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The Birmingham Railway Heritage Study Centre Acocks Green

Along with our partner collection in the Library of Birmingham, we offer one of the most extensive collections of resources on railways in the country.

Acocks Green Library concentrates on books which can be borrowed, of which we have around 2,000, and the Library of Birmingham keeps back runs of periodicals, has large collections of photographs, postcards, tickets, maps and plans, and a collection of 5,000 books.

A unique feature of this public library collection is the three large-scale models of railway carriages on display alongside the books. The models have been in the care of Birmingham Library Services since the late 1960s, and cover goods, sleeping, and restaurant stock sold to countries in four continents, thus illustrating the world-wide reputation of Birmingham in the construction of rolling stock. Each model is in its own wood and glass case.

Brighton Belle "Hazel" Pullman Kitchen Car

"Hazel" was built in 1932 by Metro-Cammell as part of a five-car electric Pullman train no. 2051 (later re-numbered 3051). The other coaches were "Doris", and no.s 86, 88, and 89. They entered service in 1933 on Southern Railway's Brighton Belle, and were still operating when the Victoria to Brighton service was axed in 1972 despite nationwide protests. The multiple unit was split up and sold off, and "Hazel" went to a Mrs. Pagendam, proprietor of the Black Bull Inn, Moulton, Yorkshire, who had it restored for use as a first class restaurant in the grounds.

The scale model's dimensions are: 195cm length x 43cm width x 137cm height, including the free-standing glass case. It is thought that it was made by apprentices at Metro-Cammell around the time the carriage itself was built. This model of "Hazel" has an outstanding amount of detail, including furniture, table lamps, crockery, cutlery, marquetry wall plaques, and kitchen utensils.

Central Brazil Restaurant Car

This type of restaurant car (type RT7) is most likely to have been in service during the 1920s and 1930s, during the era of the grand style of travel. The main part of the Central Brazil Railway is the 300-mile line between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

The scale model includes interior features in some detail. Its dimensions are: 159cm length x 56cm width x 134cm height, including free-standing glass case.

It was made in 1924 by Twining Models Limited. This has been established by Mr S. Buck, who is researching the life of Ernest Twining.

The model was restored by B. Payne and Son of Tyseley.

East African Railways Lightweight Sleeping Car

In the early 1950s Metro-Cammell were involved in the construction of lightweight aluminium alloy coaches for use on long-distance trains in mountain areas, as well as on the London Underground. This type of carriage was ordered for East African Railways in 1954, and 34 cars (some day, some sleeping) were bought by the Crown Agents for use on long-distance routes in the then colonies of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika. Internally the sleeping car version reflected the social conditions of the time, with separate "European" and "Asiatic" toilets. A typical train on the Kenya-Uganda line might have included eight or more of these lightweight carriages and six or more freight wagons, hauled by a type 60 Beyer Garratt locomotive. The light construction was necessary for use with big loads on steep gradients.

The dimensions of the scale model on display at the library are: 141cm length x 39cm width x 137cm height, including free-standing glass case. The model only shows exterior detail. It is thought to have been made by apprentices at Metro-Cammell at the same time as the originals.

If you wish to visit the library to see the models, please telephone or e-mail beforehand, as the models are occasionally lent for exhibition elsewhere. There is also a large collection of railway material for reference at the Library of Birmingham.

e-mail acocks.green.library@birmingham.gov.uk

Acocks Green Library