Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum is celebrating the 100th anniversary of an innovative housing fund established by the railway in 1919.
The exhibition has been produced in partnership with Railway Housing Association and charts the history of the fund from its inception, to the incredible work of the Railway Housing Association (RHA) today.
The North Eastern Railway Cottage Homes and Benefit Fund was set up in 1919 to provide suitable housing for railwaymen who were disabled during the First World War or railway staff who had to retire due to age or ill-health. The fund built homes for hundreds of railway families and became the Railway Housing Association in July 1982.
Residents no longer need to have any connection to the railways, but the association is very proud of its history.
The exhibition will feature objects from the association’s archives and the museum’s collection as well as personal stories from those who have lived in railway housing, giving visitors a real insight into how the fund has and continues to change lives.
Leona White-Hannant, Head of Steam’s manager curator, said:
“Hundreds of railwaymen and their families would have lived in the railway cottages across the region and benefited from the support offered by the fund over the years. We’re delighted the Railway Housing Association has worked with us to create this fantastic exhibition.”
Anne Rowlands, Railway Housing Association’s Chief Executive, said:
“We’re very proud of our history and thrilled to be working in partnership with Head of Steam to share our story through this exhibition. It will be a fitting way to end our centenary celebrations.”
Michael Stone is among those whose memories have been included in the exhibition. He said:
“My grandparents lived in a NER cottage home in Seaton Carew, Hartlepool for many years. They moved into the property on the retirement of my grandfather Matthew Daley in the late 1950s. He had worked on the railway as a train guard and in the goods depot in his final years after being crushed in a shunting accident.
“I can remember the property well. It was a semi-detached bungalow with a large garden to front and rear. Inside was a sitting room with a range fire/oven, one bedroom, an inside toilet and bathroom and a small kitchen.
“For such a small property I can remember it holding a great deal of children in the summer months – my three sisters and I, and my cousins; what a crowd!”
The exhibition, which opened on Saturday (7 September), will run at the museum until Sunday 1 December 2019 and is included in normal admission.
For more information about Head of Steam visit www.head-of-steam.co.uk.
Photo caption: L-R – RHA resident Brenda Flynn, RHA board member June Grimes, Cllr Heather Scott, leader of Darlington Borough Council; the Mayor of Darlington Cllr Nick Walllis, Head of Steam manager curator Leona White-Hannant, volunteer and exhibition contributor John Askwith, Cllr Paul Howell, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for leisure and the local environment; and former RHA president Frank Paterson.