Monthly Archives: August 2013

‘The Up and Down Lines’ – a Railway Mission Pastoral Poster

A post by Ginny Dawe-Woodings, Special Collections placement student.

My job as placement student in Special Collections at Brunel University has focused around a map listing project. Most of the maps are railway maps, part of the Transport History Collection, many in black and white, and there have been many photocopies and multiple editions. So when I came across a brightly coloured, cartoon style map I was delighted and a little surprised. In amongst a selection of original maps of tramlines and railways in Wales I found a map entitled ‘The Up and Down Lines’ which depicts railway and pastoral scenes, with references to passages of the Bible. upanddownlines The poster is a brightly coloured pastoral setting, featuring scenes of farming, horse racing, railways, and industrial buildings. Each scene is accompanied by a map reference, for example there is a boxing match scene (by the horse racing) which is labelled with Rom.3.14-17 – “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” The poster isn’t in the best condition, with considerable wear around the edges, but it is a beautiful example of 19th century railway imagery. DSC00217  Initially I wasn’t certain where the map was supposed to be depicting, but with further research using our Transport History Collection I found out that this kind of map is a fictional setting, using railways as an allegory for a life journey. They were produced by the London based ‘Railway Mission’ which provided Christian counselling to railway workers and their families, and were particularly popular during the late 19th century (there is another example of a similar map from 1895). The Railway Mission produced their own monthly publication called the Railway Signal, where poster prints like ours would have been found. The title ‘The Up and Down Lines’ plays on the railway directional terms, where an up line goes towards a major location (eg. London) and and down line goes away from the major location.  DSC00221  The Transport History Collection consists largely of material relating to British railway history and the Channel Tunnel. It includes many items, including books, maps, timetables and journals, which are all housed in the Special Collections in Brunel University Library. A description of the collection was recently added to Archives Hub.

All images used with the permission of the Railway Mission, which published Railway Signal and still exists today.

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Against the grain

The culmination of various workshops held in Special Collections this academic year, using our SALIDAA (now re-named SADAA) collection, was a Saturday afternoon event at the West Wing Arts Centre in Slough.

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Founders of the AWWC Ravinder Randhawa, Rahila Gupta and Rukhsana Ahmad in conversation with Shyama Perera

The afternoon included reflections from the original creators of the Asian Women Writers’ Collective on how the group had started and then evolved, turning from a writers’ group to a writers’ collective.

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AWWC founding members with their daughters.

Later on some of the founding members returned to their stage accompanied by their daughters and discussed how they too went against the grain to pursue uncertain careers.

One of the founding members, Maya Chrowdhry, read some of her poetry to the gathering, and was interviewed by Lakshmi Holström (one of the founding trustees of SALIDAA).

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Maya Chowdhry reading some of her poetry

The afternoon was a celebration of achievement: the two community groups who had visited us earlier in the year for workshops on Preserving community heritage and culture, where they learnt about caring for historic collections, had then gone on to learn skills in oral history, and gained certificates in Heritage Skills. They were presented with their certificates by the Mayor of Slough.

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The Mayor of Slough presenting Heritage Skills certificates

And another group, this time of local women, who had worked on a creative writing project based around the SALIDAA collections, had the opportunity to read their work aloud, and also see it published in a booklet.

The booklet will shortly be available in Special Collections.

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Creative writing group participants reading aloud from their work.