Location of records
At nationalisation in 1948 the records of the ‘big four’ companies (and their predecessors) were transferred to the British Transport Commission (BTC), and the material was mostly stored in the British Transport Historical Records Department (BTHR) in Paddington, with additional stores in York and Edinburgh.
When the BTC was abolished in 1962 the British Railways Board took over the BTHR, and in 1972 the Public Record Office (now The National Archives) took over the BTHR.
At this point records were distributed as follows (please click on the links to find out more details about the individual repository's holdings):
- Records relating to the administration of the railways and technical records about the lines were transferred to The National Archives.
- Scottish railway records were transferred to the National Records of Scotland.
- Records of the TfL Group and its predecessors are at the TfL Corporate Archives.
- Some local record offices were designated as places of deposit to receive the archives of specific railway companies by the advisory panel on railway records. This includes London Metropolitan Archives which holds some of the records of London Transport with its predecessors and subsidiaries as well as records of the London Transport Executive.
- There is also material relating to the railways in the Parliamentary Archives.
Cliff Edwards notes that there is some interchange between these categories, so some Scottish or London material may be found at The National Archives, and some administrative material may also have ended up at the National Railway Museum in York, where the records of locomotives and rolling stock are held.
The National Archives holds railway pension material dated up to the end of the 20th century, but it is likely that the majority of Railway Pension Scheme records, and a significant proportion of British Rail Pension Scheme records, will have been retained by the scheme’s administrator, RPMI Limited, as they will continue to be of use operationally.
Please note that the Network Rail Corporate Archive holds records relating to the infrastructure of the railway and does not hold any historical records relating to railway staff.