Brochure set couple on collection track

A COLLECTION amassed by a Northumberland couple has proved a transport of delight for a top museum.

A COLLECTION amassed by a Northumberland couple has proved a transport of delight for a top museum.

Robert Forsythe and wife Fiona built up more than 125,000 items on rail, air, bus and coach and water transport, including timetables, brochures, booklets, hand bills, and other paper ephemera.

It took up 275ft of shelving and 625 binders at their home in Prudhoe which they share with their nine-year-old daughter.

Now the collection has found a new home at the National Railway Museum in York.

It is rated as probably the most comprehensive private collection of transport material in Britain. “Our house was full, and we wanted the collection to be accessible for people,” said Robert, 49, a former museum curator who now works freelance in the cultural sector, as does Fiona.

Robert graduated in theology from Durham University and Fiona gained a degree in librarianship from the then Newcastle Polytechnic. She was previously head of library services at Newcastle College.

Robert’s father was a leading figure in marine preservation and both sides of Fiona’s family were railway people.

Robert said: “At the age of 12 I decided to collect something different and wrote to local station masters asking them to send me their timetables and leaflets. The material we collected is a window on society and the sort of items which slip through the net.”

They range from a British Rail booklet from 1960 which outlines what jobs were available to women on the railways, to transport arrangements for football fans and railway tourism items for Northumberland. A favourite is brochures for the 1961 British Rail Stranraer ferry Caledonian Princess, which later became the Tyne-based Tuxedo Princess.

NRM curator of archive and library collections Tim Procter said: “Now this fantastic treasure trove of transport history can be accessed by the public.”

Tony Henderson


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