Tag Archives: Transport

Social Aspects of Transport: People, Products and Politics.

MS 4613 Bus Ticket Machine (Public Works Department 1974)

MS 4613 Bus Ticket Machine [Public Works Department 1974]

At 6.30 pm at the Library of Birmingham on 12th December 2013, there will be a talk exploring various aspects of transport, when archivist Jim Ranahan will examine how the Library’s collections can support research into transport beyond the more usual concentration on technical and operational matters.

Birmingham has a long association with many modes of transport: as a hub for the national canal, rail and motorway networks; as a manufacturer of vessels and vehicles to use these networks; as the home of major public transport operators (Birmingham City Transport, Midland Red) and as the home of very many communities whose early employment opportunities included public transport providers.  Our collections reflect this varied association and a selected list is provided below.

The Wingate Bett Collection of transport tickets is one of the Library’s iconic collections.  It is well known amongst collectors of tickets and transport enthusiasts more generally.  However, it also has great potential for visual industry researchers, as the number of enquiries generated by its website gallery testify: see www.libraryofbirmingham.com

illustrate ticket with Hovercraft on front for crossing from Ramsgate to Calais. 20th century.

Illustrated ticket with Hovercraft on front for crossing from Ramsgate to Calais. 20th century.  [Hover Lloyd Ticket, Wingate Bett Collection]

However, the Wingate Bett Collection has even more research potential and this will be considered, in conjunction with opportunities provided by other collections.  Themes include commuting, tourism, migration, employment and equality issues, concentration and dispersal of populations and industries over time – and politics.  This is a very topical aspect of transport, not least because of current controversies over High Speed Two and recent challenges to the principle of Freedom of Movement within Europe.

Tram moving up the Bristol Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham. [WK/E1/274]

Tram moving up the Bristol Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham. [WK/E1/274]

If you wish to hear more about these aspects of transport, please note the following details:

Thursday 12th December 2013   6.30–7.30pm                                         Library of Birmingham Room 104   Tickets £3

Box Office: 0121 245 4455   www.birmingham-box.co.uk

A Selected List of Relevant Collections at the Library of Birmingham

MS 86 : Birmingham Canal Navigations: Minutes, accounts, plans etc
BCC 1/BE : Birmingham Transport Committee: Minutes – Operations & infrastructure
BCC 1/AO : Birmingham Public Works Committee Minutes – Infrastructure
MS 99 : Metro-Cammell, Rail and Bus Manufacture
Railway Collection : Plans, Photographs, Timetables etc
Wingate Bett Collection : Transport Tickets

Jim Ranahan, Archivist


Guest Blogger: From the Searchroom

Map of Aberdare

Ordnance Survey Map [1″ 7th series / sheet 154]

This is probably going to make me unpopular with other authors, but in my field of technical guidebooks to railways I have latterly found myself increasingly going back into their history, to correct all the errors and gaps left by all the others who have failed to research their material properly. My own current project is a survey of railway cable inclines, of which the UK industrial sector once had over a thousand, every one now gone apart from preserved or re-created samples.

I find that Ordnance Survey maps, while suffering their own limitations [eg. the one-inch cannot cope with station platforms staggered both sides of a level crossing, or distinguish mineral lines from aerial ropeways, while some lines had come and gone in the 70 years between the 1st and 2nd editions], are an incomparable resource for the purpose. As are your admirable staff on the 6th floor who, no matter how much I drive them crazy blundering about between different editions chasing things for which I do not have dates, always manage to find what I ask for sooner or later. I recommend them to other users for all purposes.

Michael Oakley


Spaghetti Junction’s 40th Birthday

Spaghetti Junction

Aerial view of Spaghetti Junction, Gravelly Hill, 1972 (Ref: WK/E2/259)

This May sees the 40th anniversary of the opening of Birmingham’s ‘Spaghetti Junction’.  The name is said to have been coined by Roy Smith, a journalist from the Birmingham Evening Mail in the 1970s and this phrase is now used throughout the world.

Some interesting vital statistics: the engineers had to elevate 21.7 km (13.5 mi) of motorway to accommodate two railway lines, three canals, and two rivers.  The junction covers 30 acres (12 ha), serves 18 routes and includes 4 km (2.5 mi) of slip roads, but only 1 km (0.62 mi) of the M6 itself. Across 5 different levels, it has 559 concrete columns, reaching up to 24.4 m (80 ft). (Wikipedia).  My favorite fact is that in a curious meeting of the ‘old and new’ the pillars supporting the flyovers had to be carefully placed to enable horse-drawn canal boats to pass under the interchange without fouling the tow rope. (The Motorway Archive).

Spaghetti Junction

Aerial view, 1969 (Ref: WK/E2/243)

I like these pictures because they show how something that we take for granted everyday was, at the time of construction, ambitious and innovative and they allow us to see it removed and from a new angle.  The photographs are from the Warwickshire Photographic Survey collection, work on which is currently being undertaken to catalogue and digitize the images. 

Amanda Thomas