Monthly Archives: February 2014

Marcus the mole

Recently we received a donation of four issues of Tunnel Express to add to our Channel Tunnel Association ArchiveTunnel Express is aimed at children, featuring Marcus the mole as a guide to the world of tunnels. All four issues were published in 1988, the year that construction finally began on the Channel Tunnel. The magazines feature quizzes, games and information about tunnelling animals, and the tunnel itself. It obviously got a great response from teachers, as the second issue features letters and drawings sent in by schools who had read the first issue.


© Copyright Groupe Eurotunnel

Tunnel Express isn’t the only item in Special Collections aimed at children. Marcus the mole also features in a book in the Channel Tunnel Association Archive called The Tunnel. In it Marcus wants to meet up with his cousin Pierre, who lives in France. Between them they come up with the idea of digging a tunnel and, combating the monsters under the sea bed, as well as le Rat-Bureaucrate and Techno-Rat, along the way, their tunnels finally meet. Published in 1993, the year before the Tunnel was officially opened, the book is a fun way to get children reading both English and French.

DSC00362Other children’s book in this collection aren’t fictional! The story of tunnels is aimed at children, but features information and illustrations from tunnelling organisations, and is quite serious, including an index and detailed diagrams.

TunnelsThese aren’t the only children’s books in our collections. You can find out more by searching the library catalogue.

Railway timetables

Our Transport History Collection includes a large number of timetables. These include working timetables, which were used by the rail industry to timetable all train movements, including empty trains, movements in and out of depots and freight trains. As working timetables were only intended to last for a year or two at a time, and were intended for internal rail industry use only, they weren’t made to last, so can be quite fragile.

Our two railway history volunteers have been working away on creating a collection list of our timetable holdings. This is now available on our website as a pdf document.


We also have a run of Bradshaw’s Guides dating between 1848 and 1957. Bradshaw produced the world’s first compilations of railway timetables, which meant, in the days of over 150 rail companies, that passengers could more easily find the information they needed to travel around the country. You will find references to the Guides in 19th and early 20th century literature, including Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and even Dickens.


Special Collections also houses a collection of railway clearing maps. These were published by the British Railway Clearing House and used to help work out the allocation of the revenue collected by the various railway companies from their fares along routes that followed more than one company’s railway lines.


These collections aren’t just of interest to the railway enthuasiast. They can provide context and background for historians and creative writing students. Or help to answer those burning issues: was it possible for Bates in Downton Abbey to make a  journey to London from York and still make it back on the same day by a particular time?!