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How to conduct "proper" research?

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I would also suggest joining a society that has a good reference library of material in both books and photographs etc. Whilst I am obviously going to plug the SLS (I am their PRO) as we have a vast archive of photographs and a good library there are other societies out there too.

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I would also suggest joining a society that has a good reference library of material in both books and photographs etc. Whilst I am obviously going to plug the SLS (I am their PRO) as we have a vast archive of photographs and a good library there are other societies out there too.

The LNWR Society also has a vast range of photos, drawings,publications, etc. These aren't just limited to the LNWR period as the locos, rolling stock and in particular the infrastructure lasted for a long time. If you are interested in modelling the railway scene to capture the right atmosphere, then knowing what it actually looked like is a great assett.

 

Even if you don't join a Society, most will sell you copies of photos,drawings, etc.

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For my book I used a variety of sources - it may not be applicable to modelling as it was covering an era and what happened rather than a specific subject like station track plans etc;

 

1) Join the Society and ask where I can get further information

2) Archives - for the North Eastern Railway, the superb Ken Hoole study centre at Darlington, and also the National Railway Museum at York. Both locations had copies of the company magazine for the era I was researching as well as superb photo archives - sometimes a photo really does tell a thousand words

3) Books - no matter if at first glance it won't appear to cover anything new, from most books I didn't think would be useful, and for the most part weren't, just a few lines within the text provided tantalising leads to new information

4) Perseverance, perseverance, perseverance! If it wasn't for the fact I was writing a book on the subject so I knew i'd recoup some money from the research, I otherwise wouldn't have been able to justify the money spent on it or the time spent on chasing information (although please don't get the idea i'm actually going to make a lot of money out of a railway book - i'll be lucky to recoup my research expenses)

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loco wise i have always wondered in rm they had a lot of use of pics by frank Hornby, i wonder where this collection/ resource resides in now?

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loco wise i have always wondered in rm they had a lot of use of pics by frank Hornby, i wonder where this collection/ resource resides in now?

Has something happened to Frank Hornby - the photographer, not the toy maker?

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Quite often you'll find that the info you wanted was on some obscure website that is no longer available that someone posted a link to on a message board in 2003. Sometimes you can find the pages at http://archive.org/web/

 

 

Handy site for citing things when a simple copy/paste mangles everything and bookmarking the page may fall foul of the above - http://www.webcitation.org/

Edited by Lurch

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One source not mentioned is Inspecting Officers' reports prior to opening or when changes took place. They often have plans showing track and signalling. Not sure where to find them but presumably one of the official archives.

 

The HMRS has an enormous archive at Butterley and the Welsh Railways research Circle has an archive at Rhiwderyn near Newport (Gwent).

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One source not mentioned is Inspecting Officers' reports prior to opening or when changes took place. They often have plans showing track and signalling. Not sure where to find them but presumably one of the official archives.

Many of them will be in the National Archives in Kew. Reports relating to Scotland may be in the National Archives of Scotland. Reports relating to Wales may be in Archives Wales. Some may be in in county archives. But all should be searchable through the National Archives catalogue: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/

 

Cheers

David

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A good local research on a area is the local long standing coach or bus company as they always take a piccy of each new bus or coach they buy and often keep records and so you will see the actual type and colour schemes of local transport for that era.   

 

For rural stations, try the local parish news and ask if anyone has piccys of the station at that time and they will circulate your request

Edited by russianlayout

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A good local research on a area is the local long standing coach or bus company as they always take a piccy of each new bus or coach they buy and often keep records and so you will see the actual type and colour schemes of local transport for that era.   

 

For rural stations, try the local parish news and ask if anyone has piccys of the station at that time and they will circulate your request

Another source that I've used is parish and other church magazines which have adverts from l,ocal traders in.  I got the liverey of a private owner wagon at Settle from the local Methodist church magazine.  fortunately as I'd attended there for many years the archivist was very helpful.

 

Jamie

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I noticed the other day that old-maps.co.uk has changed its interface.  The zoom level for non-subscribers seems to have worsened, and you can't do the trick of munging the thumbnail's URL to get the full-sized map tile any more :(

 

Still, I suppose they're entitled to make a living.  And my own experience is that it is relatively straightforward to subscribe for just a month or two at a time.

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I noticed the other day that old-maps.co.uk has changed its interface.  The zoom level for non-subscribers seems to have worsened, and you can't do the trick of munging the thumbnail's URL to get the full-sized map tile any more :(

 

Still, I suppose they're entitled to make a living.  And my own experience is that it is relatively straightforward to subscribe for just a month or two at a time.

 

As someone who's used their facilities and purchased numerous copies I don't think I'll be doing so in the future; the zoom is appalling as you say to try and see if the map's got what you need and the coloured tile blocks the view too making it near unusable to see if they've got what you want.

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As someone who's used their facilities and purchased numerous copies I don't think I'll be doing so in the future; the zoom is appalling as you say to try and see if the map's got what you need and the coloured tile blocks the view too making it near unusable to see if they've got what you want.

 

If by "the coloured tile" you mean the print extent, that can be switched off.  Just click on the cunningly labelled "Switch Print Extent Off" icon in the top right-hand corner.  If you then click on the adjacent "Switch Full Screen mode On" icon next to it and the enlarged map will, er, fill the screen.  Granted, you can't enlarge as much as you used to but that's probably to stop the likes of you and I doing what we do!

 

Chris Turnbull

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As Richard Rikard said, don't forget the local public library.

 

A lot of people don't realise what a proper 'Librarian' is. They're experts at researching, and can be a tremendous help. Be sure to ask for the Librarian, not just a library assistant. I'd phone the central library to get the name of the best person to contact.

 

Also, as others have said. Follow an Academic approach by keeping a small notebook containing details of the sources you discover. It's all to easy to forget where you read something and, later, you'll want to quote your sources to prove that you're not just working on (unsubstantiated) stories you heard down the pub.

 

You might also try writing to the local old people's homes and old folks societies. There's nothing better than speaking to someone with eye witness stories, and the old folks will love telling you their stories.

 

Good-luck,

Rick

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Whilst researching for my layout based on a real place and the village around it I found the internet only partially useful. Books were easily the best but even the railway section at major bookshops had no more than about 20 books on railways. The solution for me was the bookshop within the museum at my local Heritage Railway. Not only do they have for sale 40 or 50 books about there own railway and area but another 200 or so covering all areas of the country. Thats before even starting on the coach full of secondhand railway books.

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I like a 'proper' research... but more difficult to do it from the Netherlands. Who can, and want to help me from the UK?

 

See my other thread:

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/97951-bridge-over-the-river-medway-near-beltring/&do=findComment&comment=1844701

 

Grzz, Hans

Edited by jburgt
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I'm surprised no-one's mentioned Ottley. George Ottley published a bibliography of published railway sources in 1978, and then a supplement in 1988. A second supplement was published in 1998, not actually by Ottley, but published by the Science Museum. Not worth buying unless you're going to do a lot of research, but most railway collections will have a copy---I know there's a set in the TNA library.

 

On the subject of the TNA, a quick run-down of the main sources.

 

First (obviously) RAIL. This consists of the two tranches of documents got from BR. The low numbers (up to 999) were the first batch, are sorted by company, and pretty well indexed. The numbers above 1000 relate to the second tranche, and, although indexed, are not as well done or as completely sorted by Company.

 

Next, AN (After Nationalisation). I've not had much occasion to look at these, but my impression is that they are not as well indexed as RAIL.

 

Third, MT 6. MT is Ministry of Transport but covers records prior to the MoT, and 6 is inspection and other (e.g. accident) reports. Often contains plans, sometimes drawings. Watch out for these as the index is not terribly good with a lot of spelling mistakes and missing cross references, such as a station being recorded under the company name, but not under the station name and vice versa.

 

Fourth, three that you just have to know are of railway interest.

 

ZPER and ZLIB came from the old Library of the BR records office.

 

ZPER is periodicals, and contains, amongst other things, complete runs of most of the Railway magazines and newspapers and company staff magazines.

 

ZLIB is the library of published books, and contains a vast range of often rare and early books.

 

These two are not being kept up-to-date, so effectively "stop" at the transfer date. I did suggest at a Friends AGM, when we were given a talk by one of the curators that much of this material could be put in the TNA Library on open shelves, leaving only the rarer documents as orderable documents, but nothing seems to have come of that.

 

ZSPC is a real oddball. It's the lifework of one man: the W E Hayward Collection in ZSPC 11 who collected a vast quantity of stuff on railways. It's not terribly well indexed: effectively they just wrote down what was on the front cover of each volume, but each volume typically contains photographs, post cards, tickets, clippings from magazines, and can often throw up just what you need to fill a "hole". You might find you have to study this in the supervised room, as it contains a lot of loose material.

 

Mark A

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Walk the line again; the Man In Black was right!  You'll be surprised what you missed the first time and more aware of what to look for now you've been in the archives a bit more, and you'll develop a better feel for the place and how the railway 'sat' in it.  Maps are useful, the larger the scale the better and if you can get hold of an OS 6'to the mile for the period you are modelling it's show individual buildings, lamp posts, and raiway signal posts, as well as pretty accurate track plans.  Even a modern 1:50k will show alignments and boundaries, which often survive redevelopment unless the site has been totally cleared and they've started from scratch.  If you've got copies of photos, try to stand in the spot you think they were taken from and see what remains if anything; if nothing else, this will highlight the sightlines to any local landmarks that might be needed on backscenes or low relief, factory chimneys, church spires, that sort of thing.  You will be able to get a feel for the lie of the land, which directions it is falling or rising in, which will come in useful when you lay out the scenery. 

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Lots of useful information here about researching the physical/ geographical side of things, some of which i'm already utilising on my research into the Brierley Hill area circa 1980, specifically Kingswinford Jn and Moor St Sidings. Where i'm coming unstuck is actual workings, locos, stock and frequency.

 

In terms of my hobby accomplishment i'm attempting to make the move from 'trainset' enthusiast to prototypical modelling and i'm treating my current layout as a training project to learn the techniques and knowledge toward a successful prototypical layout. It's a long term project that i can start researching now.

 

So far all the knowledge i've got about workings in this area are from photos and the commentaries that come with them but is there information available out there for the freight timetable, diagrams, motive power etc that i can access so i can run a prototypical freight timetable on a given day in 1980?

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Have you tried the RCTS? Their Observer Journal may have items of relevance, ours is more on the technical side than theirs. Horses for courses.

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You might try Googling "Working Timetables for sale".  There are a lot on Ebay for example.  I also visit local secondhand bookshops from which I have obtained several WTTs of areas of interest to me (not Brierley Hill).  Not all these shops have an internet presence and of those that do not all are up-to-date or very comprehensive so a personal visit can be worthwhile.

 

One of my favorites is:

 

https://clweb02.chrislands.com/clshops/StoreNumber_4849/

 

Chris Turnbull  

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Thanks John and Chris some good ideas there, i'll have a look on ebay it seems to have plenty.

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A couple of free on-line services for everyone.

First there's the Internet Archive.

Internet Archive

This is vast stock of books, films and other media items based in America. There are plenty of old railway books, and even some Railway Modeller's from the 1960's all in PDF and other download formats.

 

If your are modelling anything in the Sheffield Area there's a free picture resource called Picture Sheffield. Plenty of Railway pictures too.

Picture Sheffield

By the way several other Local Studies Libraries have put there picture collections on line. So search for your own area one first. 

 

Another great source of National photos is Britain From Above. This is a collection of aerial photo's of the UK. The link I have posted shows what you can get just by using the word "railway" in the search.

Britain From Above - Railway

 

Then there's a useful source which is great for finding were engines were based and other details, such as when it was scrapped. You can even look at what was at a Depot on any day of any year!

BR Database 1923-1997

 

It's worth pointing out that many Local Studies and Archives have very limited hours and are not open all week. Archives also might not have the items stored in the same building, so you will have to order them in. You could be waiting around for hours for them to come. So if you can book ahead by phone or some other method. Though most Local Studies are free to enter and view things. Archives often have a ticket system or some other system for viewing records. They might be able to sign you up on the day of your first visit, but you might need some proof of who you are and where you live.

Each Library or Archive, will probably have a set of rules, for example no food. So don't take your lunch! Some don't like pens, so you will have to take pencils to make notes. Some are relaxed on the use of camera's so you can take pictures, as long as you don't intend to make money from them. If you do want to use them for publication, each Library will have rules on that. Some will charge expensive fees. Others especially those with "National" in the title won't even let you take the picture. It will be supplied by them with specific instructions on how to use it. If you have ever wondered why a colour photo is in  black and white in some books, that's why!  

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