Our museum is home to the National Archive of Railway Oral History (NAROH), which contains over a thousand hours of intriguing stories from people who worked on the railways.
Here you can listen to selected samples from our oral history archive. To enjoy more NAROH audio content and delve deeper into our archives, get in touch with the Search Engine team to plan a visit to our dedicated library and archive centre. Please provide at least two weeks' notice so we have time to prepare the oral history files ahead of your visit.
On the day of your visit we'll ask you to complete a data protection form. Once this has been completed you will be able to access your requested audio content using one of the sound booths in Search Engine.
We've added clips from Betty Chalmers and Gladys Garlick to the list below to coincide with VE Day. Both recall work on the railways during wartime, including the 1942 bombing of York station and a V2 rocket hitting the tracks in 1944.
Our thanks go to Susan Major for helping us with these recordings. Susan has explored much of the NAROH archive in the production of her book Female Railway Workers in World War II.
The National Archive of Railway Oral History project was founded and managed by the Friends of the National Railway Museum. The project was kindly supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Charles Anthony Brindle
With his naval and business background, Charles Anthony Brindle joined the Western Region in 1962 as part of Dr Beeching's experiment of bringing managers into the railways from industry.
As Managing Director of British Rail Hovercraft Ltd, Brindle was responsible for establishing the world's first passenger-carrying hovercraft service between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight in 1966.
Charles Anthony Brindle
Betty Chalmers grew up in a railway family in York. She joined the LNER in 1937 at the age of 16. She worked in the telegraph office at York. Betty recalls working during wartime, the bombing of York station in 1942 and being relocated to work in an underground shelter for the following two years.
Gladys Garlick joined the railways in 1940 as a lad porter. In 1943 she became one of the two first female guards appointed by the LNER. She was on duty as a guard when a V2 rocket hit the tracks before her train in October 1944.
Ann Henderson started her career with British Railways in 1982. By the late 1980s she had become one of the first female train drivers in the country. Throughout her railway career, Ann was an active member of the National Union of Railwaymen. Ann left the railways after privatisation, and she remained involved with trade unions and became a campaigner for the Labour Party.
Eric Henshaw joined the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) in 1941 as a Junior Bookings Clerk. After war service, he rejoined and took a Traffic Apprenticeship. He then moved into management positions, was involved in implementing the Beeching plan, and worked for consultancy service Transmark, spending time in India and Australia.
Alec Martin had a long career, starting in a clerical role with the LMS in 1943 in Carlisle. He then rose through Assistant Goods Agent (Dundee), Goods Agent (Inverness), Terminals Manager (Edinburgh Division), Area Manager (Falkirk) and retired as Freight Sales Manager (Scotland) in 1983.
Ray Oakley was an Oxford graduate, and began his career with a Traffic Apprenticeship in 1949 through the graduate recruitment scheme. This led to station master roles, and a series of jobs managing railway operations, including the Channel Tunnel project. He retired from the British Railways Board headquarters in 1986.
Alan Pegler was involved with the railway preservation movement from the 1950s, and bought Flying Scotsman in 1963.
Gordon Reed commuted to school by rail and had an uncle who was a stationmaster, so he was keen to join the railways. As a boiler engineer and welder from 1948 to 1994, he saw the effects of 1948's nationalisation of the railways, the closures of the 1960s, the end of steam and the start of privatisation. Gordon retained his passion and was a dedicated volunteer at our museum.
Percival Voss's father was a signalman in Nottingham. Percival joined the railway from school and filled a variety of signalling and administration roles.
George Young joined the LNER as a messenger at Aberdeen in 1945. He later worked as an apprentice fitter at Aberdeen Ferryhill train depot and Inverurie Loco Works, before becoming a steam locomotive fitter at Dundee and elswhere. He retired in 1995 after a spell as Mechanical Foreman at Dundee.