What We Can Learn From The Archive?

The archive collection of The Swansea & Mumbles Railway enables us to look at different facets of the railway in very fine detail. These details can be used to help us to explore many different aspects into the inner working of the railway and the companies that ran it.

The Lives of the People Who Worked on the Railway

This is a very exciting aspect of the collection. Whilst the collection is predominantly a series of business and financial documents, it is still a very useful source of information for social historians. Within the collection there are a number of interesting documents that highlighted who these people were and what they did.

An interesting example of this within the collection is through looking at personal ledgers. Within the personal ledgers we can look at who worked for the railway companies. The levels of information vary from the basic to that of much more detail. The ledgers allow us to see the ages of the various workers involved with the railway. Furthermore, the ledgers show us details such as holiday allocation and reasons why holiday days have been taken. This can open our eyes into popular leisure practices at the time.

Success and Failure

The archive’s financial documents can tell us the success (and potential failures) of the various companies who operated The Swansea & Mumbles Railway. The cash books show the financial incomings and outgoings from each of the operating companies. They detail the intricacies of ticket prices, payment of wages, railway improvements and other charges for cargo and transportation. Within the minute books we can also learn about the purchasing of shares, share prices and financial profit margins. The minute books are particularly informative as we see the views of the important figures of the railway, as opposed to just statistics.

Rules and Regulations

The availability of posters charting rules and regulations for behavior on the trains is a particularly interesting aspect of the collection. These posters are an interesting way of looking at the morality and standards expected during the period and whether they differ or draw similarity with the rules of the railway. Furthermore, these posters are a great way to gauge context. What has changed since this period and what has stayed the same? It makes for an exciting and thought provoking investigation.

Who Ran the Railway?

The collection can answer the question of who owned the railway along with other questions as to ownership. Through the collection, you can see a list of the initial shareholders and those of which through time. This can give a prospective visitor the stimulus to find out who these people were and what they did, it could unlock doors into more specific histories of important figures involved in the development of the railway.

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