Worlds most historic railway artefacts discovered by Network Rail

Railway artefacts
Credit: Network Rail

Network Rail has announced that members of the public will be able to see plans by George Stephenson for the first passenger railway to use locomotives.

The notebook is dated 1822 and was found by John Page, who is a records assistant at Network Rail’s archive in York and outlines the redesign of and budget for the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

John uncovered the notebook, which has not been seen since the 1950s while searching for documents in the archive’s deeds room in April.

There are about 20,000 documents on the shelves, with the Stephenson notebook being number 350.

The rediscovery means the public will be able to see the notebook for the first time at the National Railway Museum, in York.

The notebook is going on display until 28 December as part of the museum’s Highlights exhibition in the Great Hall.

What did officials say?

John said:

“Because it is a historical document it would never have been loaned out or requested as it didn’t impact the running of the railway so since the 1950s, it has sat on a shelf unnoticed amongst hundreds of other packets.

“I was looking for a deed for one of our internal colleagues and purely out of curiosity decided to look through the packets, and there it was, and what a thrill it was to find.”

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, chair of Network Rail, said:

 “George Stephenson’s original survey of the Stockton and Darlington Railway ushered in the railway age, not only in Britain, but around the world. Network Rail is delighted and proud to have found this astonishing artefact, and very pleased to have it displayed by our friends at the National Railway Museum. Then, as now, railways were essential to creating economic growth, jobs and housing.”

Catherine Robins, interpretation developer at the National Railway Museum said:

“I would like to thank Network Rail for the opportunity to display this notebook alongside other significant items from the collection. This is a rare and historic document which includes many new and interesting details which help bring the story of the railway’s early years to life.”

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Michael Holden avatar
I have had an interest in Railways for as long as I can remember. I am a member of a number of heritage railways and actively volunteer at 2 of them. I enjoy all types of railways, real life, model and simulations. I started RailAdvent in 2014 and am the main editor of the site.