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Allegheny1600

How to conduct "proper" research?

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A word of warning B) !

Research takes time and dedication, it cannot be rushed. As an example, the research that I did to prepare an article for The Industrial Railway Record of the railway sidings where I worked took nearly 5 years,(1980/85) and I was on site with access to the works internal archives!

Even so, my final draft was edited and added to by the IR people with information that I had not found. (IR Record 1990 #122).

All my photos, plans etc were passed on to a colleague who later wrote a history of the works itself (Blackheart , Bob Read, Breedon Books 2005 ) and I am told that the reference material we used is now in Derby Local Studies Library.

 

And while you are researching you cannot be modelling !!

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I would also add the London Gazette which has published every statutory notice since 1666.

 

Cheers

David

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In the light of the latest updates, Google Street View is a bit handy - I've been checking bridge locations and general look on that for Much Wenlock of late.

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Found another useful source. The Royal Mail Archive holds records, manuals and correspondence relating to the working of TPOs. It covers route diagrams, rolling stock, mail exchange apparatus, inspection reports, rules, staffing, contracts with railway companies and emergency arrangements during WW2. Series POST 18 ('Travelling Post Offices') consists of 115 volumes of manuals and 96 files of correspondence from 1838 to 1992. Files are open subject to anything still under the 30 year rule.

 

Series POST 19 ('Postal Business Statistics') has a block of files containing weekly TPO returns of train times and traffic figures from 1951 to 1974.

 

The British Postal Museum & Archive is at Freeling House, Phoenix Place, London WC1X 0DL.

 

Cheers

David

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Guest jim s-w

Hi All

 

Wondering if any Iphone apps might be helpful when researching vary large buildings? Pedometer and Altimeter for example.

 

Cheers

 

Jim

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A while ago I joined the Lancashire Library as they give you access to online research such as The Times and vaious other papers going back to even before the Middleton Railway.

 

This is a free service to join and free to use, I know of many people that are using it for some information on family history, but if you search you'll find acts of parliament and other documents reproduced in the papers of the day.

 

http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/onrl/

 

You can view 17th, 18th and 19th Century papers, Times upto the late 1980's - Access to Newsbank online national and local papers. Just done a search and come up with info from June this year going way back.

 

The problem is that you can get engrossed reading articles that you have been sidetracked by and as mentioned above it can take up a lot of time.

 

 

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For Lowton St. Mary's it might be worth enquiring at the Great Central Railway Society. (Though research is not their strongest card, IMHO.)

 

Another suggestion I would make for this location is the Wigan Borough Library. I know for a fact they hold many items of railway interest, including documents around a proposed GCR extension from Wigan to Heysham that very few people seem to have heard of. So they might have something on LSM as it is in their area.

 

Also worth checking if there is a local history society in the area, or for that matter a local paper. Enquiries through this route may turn up a local bod with a collection of photos or at least memories. Certainly worth a try.

 

Good luck, you have certainly picked a very interesting prototype.

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A couple of other thoughts on this excellent thread would be English Heritage, they hold a surprising amount of railway pictures, ok they are not cheap but they might just be able to help. They usefully send out photocopies so you can choose what you want to order.

 

Another thing i have found as invaluable rather than just collecting the information, if your going to prepare plans to make models offer them back to who ever gives you information. Daft as it sounds if people offer to let you see information you have asked about, follow it up.

 

Finally dont forget ask others if they know of others you should be speaking to. Certainly for drawings of the S&D at the southern end , you find working on one station gives information on a different one so more information is spread around.

 

all the best

Duncan

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Guest stuartp

The National Archives of Scotland were mentioned earlier, this site "Scotland's Places" links to that and the RCAHMS collections and is a bit easier to use (I find) than Scran and Canmore.

 

It contains free downloadable photos - modellers of vernacular Scottish buildings in particular owe a huge debt to John R Hume who seems to have spent most of the 1970s photographing everything from sheds to castles.

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I'm surprised that no one has mentioned (as far as I can see) the various historical Line Societies. What they preserve, record, etc. will however depend on their objectives or "mission statement".

 

For example, the LNWR Society collects material about the LNWR and its predecessors. Much of this relating to the railway infrastructure is also applicable to the LMS and BR. This information is available for viewing at the Jeremy Flegg Study Centre in Leamington, online at the Webbsite and by purchasing photocopies and prints. The Society also publishes Portfolios (booklets) on various topics.

 

I don't know what other Societies do, but collectively this does provide another large source of information.

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Yes, groups specialising in particular lines or companies are a great resource - for example the Midland Railway Society has a library - details on their web-site. Then there's the NRM of course!

 

For online searches I would recommend using British History Online which has historic large-scale Ordnance Survey maps and plans to access (not great resolution but they're ok for free!), as well as all sorts of other materials, such as the Victoria County Histories that in some cases are very useful for aspects of transport history.

 

My main recommendation though is to use your local/county/city archives, or record office as they used to be called - it's free to do so, and they'll have loads of books, maps, and photographs to help do your research, plus staff who know their stuff and who'll guide you through what you need. You can also get photocopies or scans of photos and maps, to take home. Good luck!

 

all the best,

 

Keith

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Just a quick addition to this thread which seems to have gone dormant recently.

 

It is tempting to think that information on a station or other location you are researching will be in the county record office for the county where it is located. They may well have something of use, but it is perhaps more likely that plans and other railway documents will be in the Record Office for the county where the railway company was based, and in particular the location of its drawing office.

 

Thus, in searching Dulverton, which was in Somerset, the most useful information for me, in the form of a large scale plan of the station from the late 1930s, came from Wiltshire Country Record Office. This is because they received material from the ex-GWR drawing office at Swindon.

 

Another thing you may get from Country Record offices is historic plans submitted for planning applications. In the case of Dulverton, I got a very useful floor plan of the Carnarvon Arms Hotel from the late 1950s from Somerset Record Office, which were produced for an application to extend the hotel.

 

Douglas

Edited by Douglas G
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Excellent thread.

 

I have been involved in hands on research for a new book connected to railways for nearly two years now.

 

All the above recources are excellent but if you got the National Archives in Scotland read their requirements carefully as regards the documents you will need. Whilst I was there a chap came in from Australia without the right paperwork and was sent away to get it. I don't what he did! Same applies at Kew and some other local archives.

 

There are strict guidelines when handling documents and I got rightly told off at Kew once!

 

One source of knowledge is anecdotal. Depends how far you want to go back but many local history groups are very helpful and can direct you to ex railway men and women that were involved in the area.

 

Good luck its fascinating to do this but it can take a long time.

 

Jack

Edited by GC Jack
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I recently found this site to view old maps for the Republic of Ireland.

 

http://maps.osi.ie

 

To navigate the site, select Historic 25" and pan/zoom in as far as you like. The red cross in the middle can be used to aim at your target.

 

It is very addictive, I should warn you!

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There is some first-rate advice in this thread. As others have commented, don't underestimate the amount of time required for this. I researched and wrote the book on the Minehead Branch (pub by Lightmoor in 2006 with 2nd edn in 2011) and spent more than 20 years researching. I think there are a couple of things to be borne in mind:

1. if you are *just* researching for a model then it can be done quite quickly. To be honest, if you make a couple of mistakes its not that important and could be put right if required. Large scale OS maps and a visit to the local records office, the line society or local museum would give you almost everything you need to get started.

2. HOWEVER if you are intending to publish your research then you must be more careful. Once a work is published it will be regarded as fact and if not careful you can seriously mislead future researchers who will look at what you have done. In these cases you own it to others to get it right. With the Minehead Branch book I spent quite a lot of time debunking facts in previous books that turned out to be fanciful.

 

Notwithstanding that it is an absolutely facinating task. Just to be touching the very same documents that were written and signed by those who were instrumental in building our railway heritage is a humbling experience. My best moment was coming across a piece of paper hand-signed by Brunel in his capacity as engineer to the West Somerset Railway in 1857. This was in the House of Lords records Office (a source i dont think is mentioned above) where you can consult all the parliamentary evidence submitted when a railway was planned. Not normally massively useful for modelers but great for historians.

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Good comments above but be aware of copyright if you intend to publish.

 

Documents in the public domain cannot be used without permission, as we all know on this site, photographs belong to the owner.

 

Not a minefield if it is for personal use, but if you intend to publish for commercial gain it can be!

 

 

Jack

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Notwithstanding that it is an absolutely facinating task. Just to be touching the very same documents that were written and signed by those who were instrumental in building our railway heritage is a humbling experience. My best moment was coming across a piece of paper hand-signed by Brunel in his capacity as engineer to the West Somerset Railway in 1857.

 

Indeed it is. A few weeks ago I was reading the report by Doctor Beeching written out in his own fair hand in pencil. I can also recognize a comment by Harold Wilson by the size of paper he used for his notes. Many important documents are now digitized so this experience will not be so common in future. You cannot go through Hansard for example as you once could. It's much easier to obtain information but the romance and excitement has been taken out of the task.

Bernard

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I have 'researched" for the purposes of re-creating them in 4mm Sedbergh Station on the the Lowgill-Ingleton Branch (LNWR) and Tettenhall station on the Oxley-Kingswinford branch (GWR).

The National Archives was a bullseye for Tettenhall but nowt for Sedbergh.

When the Lowgill-Ingleton Branch was built Sedbergh was in Yorkshire and their archives are in Wakefield but as county boundaries/counties changed Cumbria archives are held in number of places. Neither archive had anything! Photographs I found on the internet e.g. CRA site (very helpful guy at the Wigan Show) but no plans whatsoever apart from Rob Weston's book and subsequent finding of the old OS map in county archives.

Sedbergh Local history were very,very helpful but still no plans. I was disheartened but quite by chance I was pointed to 1945 track plans of Sedbergh and Ingleton on a cumbria website run by Carlisle library http://www.cumbriaimagebank.org.uk/

So 4 points:

 

Search engines do not search as we would think. Typing in Sedbergh Station on Google does not get you Carlisle libraries plans so don't think by using a search engine

you have searched everything. Somebody who knows far more about search engines can explain why. On the above site try Sedbergh station you get 3 photos. Now try a freetext search (2nd box on menu) by typing plans see how many stations come up !

 

Make sure you know about the history of local boundaries the archives may not be held where you think.

 

Libraries and archives do not know of each other.

 

If you do find things then put back into the system; the local history society now has copies of the 1940's track plan.

 

Finally if anybody does know of building plans for Sedbergh station, now a private house and very little like the original, (I know the goods shed the family business runs from there)

they would have my eternal thanks if they shoved them under my nose.

 

 

As somebody who lives in Golborne I was staggered to find Golborne had 2 stations and there was one at Haydock so I'd be very interested in anything on this line and Lowton.

Edited by bob hughes60
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Thank you for starting this thread John, which I've just found after almost two years!

 

OS maps are an excellent resource, but beware of some of the track formations. Some cartographers don't understand the niceties of single and double-slips, trap and catch points etc.

 

Kelly's Street Directories are very useful for information on shop names, though the last editions came out in 1975. For more up-to-date information on shops, Goad maps are also very good for that sector.

 

Oral history is a very good source of original material; as someone has stated above, don't forget to have a consent form to use the material.

 

Finally a little story to end on. Some years ago the BBC ran a project called "People's War". I collected some oral material for it and one lady in particular stays in my memory. After she'd spoken about the Second World War, I persuaded her to tell me more about general life in the town where she grew up.

 

One day she was allowed home early as her uncle was visiting. I thought this rather strange; children wouldn't be allowed out early just because a relative was visiting. Anyway, she sat on his lap, played on the lawn and had tea. After he'd left she asked her dad why she'd been able to have the afternoon off school. Her father said that her uncle didn't come down from London all that often. "So what did uncle do father?" Well her dad told her that her uncle quite liked writing. "What does he write?". Her dad said uncle had written a few books. "What are they called?" Well, one was The Time Machine, another The Invisible Man and another called The War of the Worlds.....

 

Really makes history, come alive.

 

Regards,

Peter

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Hello

 

The local council Records Office is well worth checking. They will hold relevant maps and probably some photographs.

Most railway structures did not concern the local councils to much hence their records may be scarce on these however all the surrounding non-railway buildings would have needed planning permissions etc.

A project I am researching had a building of unknown purpose adjoining the station, this building was shown on maps and the railway facing side appeared in many photographs, other than that, nothing. The building itself, the station and the whole surrounding area is long gone and has been redeveloped.

A visit to the local records office produced the planning application for this building along with the original drawings.

Subesequently I have found some 75% of the buildings surrounding the staion site, some plans give snippets of railway information eg: applications from coal merchants showing sidings, huts etc.

 

Pete

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not sure whether its already been mentioned, but i went to the NRM yesterday and they have an archive library, where i ordered electronic copies for certain stations etc that i needed. they cost £5 per record,

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Another potential source could be local Universities. Leeds Uni libraryhad a lot of historical information in the libraries during my time there - I understand that you can ask for access.

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Another mapping site with a useful split screen feature so you can find old railways where they have been completely obliterated.

 

http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm

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