Most of us approach the annual spring clean or a decluttering session with a one track mind but a local charity is asking readers to use it to help it find old railway paraphernalia and in particular, a couple of rare items which have been pilfered by thieves.
The Belfast & County Down Railway Museum Trust wants members of the public to get on board its annual Railway Rummage, and pass on any items of railway origin, or photographs of railway subjects, that they find.
“We have found people to be extremely generous in passing on their buried treasures to us over the years, and this year we would again appeal to members of the public to join us in a similar rummage. On this occasion, whilst looking for railway artefacts however, there is also a special appeal for help,” said a spokesman.
“This year, whilst looking for old railway artefacts in the normal way, we would also ask for the assistance of members of the public, and other railway enthusiasts, to help us to secure the return of a number of items that have been stolen during the last number of years.
“The first item we are anxious to recover was taken from an exhibition in the North Down area quite a few years ago. It was a specially printed timetable for the Royal Train of 1897 which was used to carry the Duke and Duchess of York from Newtownards to Newcastle and back on September 6. This timetable was bound on the left side with pale blue ribbons, and is an exceptionally rare item. Indeed it may possibly be the only copy to survive.”
The Trust is also seeking the return of a Belfast & County Down Railway Tourist Guide published in 1898. A first edition of this publication by the BCDR, it has a black leather cover with illustrations on the cover inset in gilt.
The back cover had a picture of the newly-built Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle. “The copy we lost was of particular value as it was the personal copy of James Pinion, the General Manager of the BCDR at the time, having his name on one of the inside front pages,” said the spokesman.
A few years ago the Trust purchased a large quantity of track-laying equipment from a company that has since been placed into administration.
The 48 items included rail trolleys, jacks and sleeper nips and the Trust is appealing to anyone who may know their whereabouts to come forward.
“Additionally, we are trying to trace the whereabouts of a portrait in oils of Guy Stone, who was one of the original founders of the Belfast & County Down Railway. We know that this hung in the Board Room at Queen's Quay Station until the mid-1960s.”
The Trust can be contacted on Freephone 0800 980 1242, email: firstname.lastname@example.org write to BCDR Museum Trust, 9 Kilbright Road, Carrowdore, Newtownards BT22 2HQ.