Rail life stories... exhibition focuses on workers who kept UK moving

THE fascinating lives of the men and women who kept Britain's railways on track over the past century have gone on display in a new exhibition.

The exhibition, at the National Railway Museum in York, uses a treasure trove of objects from the archives to explore the everyday lives of generations of workers – from the 1950s-designed Brown's railimeter, which measured wear and tear to discover how much life a piece of rail track had left, to a humble GNER burger box.

Visitors can also read the memories of real railway workers such as trackman Harry Arrowsmith who worked on the lineside from 1952 to 1993, and train driver Bill Starvis's diaries, which were written between 1949 and 1962 and record his personal experiences of life on the footplate including concerns about safety and his record-breaking runs.

The museum's exhibitions organiser, Ellen Tait, said: "The railways used to be the biggest employer in Britain, so this new exhibition is exploring the stories of people's uncles, aunties, grandfathers and grandmothers through the rich treasure trove of material they left behind.

"Train drivers were often considered a bit of a local celebrity, especially if they were at the helm of a top-flight locomotive. However, the tale of the ordinary railway employees who were beavering away behind the scenes doing more mundane tasks such as cleaning, catering and clerical work has equal importance.

"Our new exhibition reveals the human faces that kept the railways running using a blend of images, objects and written excerpts taken from over a thousand hours of sound recordings."

The exhibition, which is called Driver, Draughtsman, Cleaner, Clerk: Running Britain's Railways, is open now at the museum in Leeman Road and continues until June 19. Admission is free.