Railway Families

The railway changed the social and industrial face of the nation, and for a century after 1850 railways were major employers.

 We can show you at Bo’ness what past railways were like. Although we can’t show the gigantic scale of much railway infrastructure, we can show you the equipment used in the past, in installations large and small, throughout the land.

Railways provided secure employment and comparatively good working conditions that improved steadily through the 20th century.

We can’t help you directly to find information on a particular railwayman, as our archives do not contain detailed staff records. Extensive records do survive, however, and we can tell you where to look. We have a Fact Sheet which gives suggestions for researching family history in Scotland.

Railway Genealogy Fact Sheet

If you want to find out more about railway history, you could start by consulting many books. Some excellent general titles are:

J. Simmons and G. Biddle (editors), The Oxford Companion to British Railway History, Oxford 1999.
This looks like a dry encyclopedia, but contains a wealth of succinctly written information, arranged for easy access.P.J.G. Ransom, The Victorian Railway and how it evolved, London 1990.

This is a very readable analysis of why railways developed in the context of their times, and how they changed Britain.P.J.G. Ransom, Iron Road; the railway in Scotland, Edinburgh 2007.

John Ransom’s latest book offers a very thorough review of Scottish railways from wagonways to the present day. 334 pages, beautifully illustrated.

C. Awdry, Encyclopedia of British Railway Companies, London 1990.
This unique book tracks the growth of the private railway companies and their amalgamations, including the “grouping” of 1923 which created the LMS, LNER, GWR and SR “Big Four” companies.

British Railways Pre-grouping Atlas and Gazetteer, Ian Allan, London.
This is the best quick visual reference to the railway system as it existed by 1923.

The main archive collection relating to Scottish railways is at the National Archives of Scotland. There are also extensive records at the National Railway Museum, and at the National Archives Office. Before consulting any of these resources, it is essential to do as much research as possible beforehand, so that you know exactly what you are looking for.