The Network Rail archive is the custodian of a vast collection of historic documents and plans relating to today’s railway infrastructure.
It represents the development of the most significant structures, engineers and innovation on the railway from the 19th century to the present.
Each month we will delve into the archive to shine a light on the development of our network through the ages.
November: war memorials
Railway companies installed memorials across Britain after the First World War to commemorate the more than 20,000 railway workers who had lost their lives in the conflict. More than 100,000 had enlisted when war broke out.
This Armistice Day we remember all those who served between 1914 and 1918 and look back at the historic drawings of the memorials around the railway, which the industry continues to maintain today:
Most railway war memorials are from WWI, with names of those who served in the Second World War added to the earlier structures.
Sadly, many of the memorials disappeared during railway station redevelopments decades ago, such as a bronze tribute at Manchester Piccadilly, which the Railway Heritage Trust replaced with a granite memorial in 2016. Visitors to the station can see it near platform nine.
The trust worked with the railway industry and the War Memorials Archive at the Imperial War Museum in the five years before centenary of the beginning of WWI to record all surviving railway memorials. Its work includes a project with Network Rail to restore the Great Northern Railway memorial at London King’s Cross.
In September, a new memorial funded by the Railway Heritage Trust commemorated the servicemen from the historic railway town of Wolverton, Buckinghamshire.
Today the trust holds a list of all such memorials it is aware off, and continues to help researchers locate memorials erected by specific railway companies.
Find out more about the trust’s work here.
- Film: the railway at war – 1914-1918
- Centenary service to recognise railway’s WWI contribution
- Supporting the Poppy Appeal and armed forces
- From the archive: WWII and the railway
- From the archive: William Henry Barlow
- From the archive: the Royal Albert Bridge
- From the archive: the Royal Border Bridge
- From the archive: Glasgow Queen Street
- From the archive: London Charing Cross