The archive is split up into organisational subdivisions as follows:
- WOLV/1 Management records
- WOLV/2 Correspondence records
- WOLV/3 Design records
- WOLV/4 Production records
- WOLV/5 Workshop records
The following themes are represented throughout the archive:
The archive contains records covering all main functions of the works from the 1830s to the 1990s. It contains some record of nearly all vehicles produced at Wolverton. Detailed information on vehicles can be found in drawings (WOLV 3/1, WOLV 3/2), these drawings often show vehicles and material that was designed but never actually manufactured. The archive also contains an almost full set of drawing registers from 1886 that run until the 1980s. (WOLV 3/4). These record all drawings produced at Wolverton, even if the drawings themselves have not been preserved.
More information can be found from other sources including correspondence (WOLV/2), reports (WOLV 1/5, WOLV 1/14), order for new stock/specification files (WOLV 3/9) and photograph albums (WOLV 3/7) as well in files concerning building programmes (WOLV 4/4), condemnation (WOLV 4/10), and accounting and financial records (WOLV 4/8). Where possible lot numbers, drawing numbers and correspondence reference numbers have been referenced. This means that different types of record can be cross-referenced with each other.
The archive contains core records such as Stock Books that list stock built at the works from the 1840s to the 1910s (WOLV 1/1). After this it is possible to ascertain what stock was built at Wolverton through the ‘order for new stock’ files and specifications (WOLV 3/7). The archive contains experiment files showing tests carried out on stock at Wolverton (WOLV 4/9/3).
Later manufacture is covered in the Drawing Office project files (WOLV 3/11). Programmes such as the construction of newspaper vans and EMUs for Northern Ireland in the 1980s are described in these files. They also cover subjects such as the control of asbestos (WOLV 3/11/3/2/72).
The archive does not contain official staff records; however records relating to staff are spread throughout the archive. Some examples of where information on staff can be found are as follows: reports to the Locomotive Committee (WOLV 1/5) contain various references to staff, for example members of staff involved in accidents, undergoing disciplinary procedures, deceased, or serving in wartime; drawing registers (WOLV 3/4) contain photographs of staff members and biographical information next to the last drawing produced by them; the archive contains a small number of references written for staff members (WOLV 1/3/4); staff time books (WOLV 5/4) and piece work rate books (WOLV 4/8/6) show when staff were employed, what they did and information on pay; royal train files include some information on members of staff employed on the royal train (WOLV 3/10. WOLV 2/1); workshop records (WOLV/5) focus heavily on staff information; the ‘Staff Particulars’ volume (WOLV 5/1) contains names and addresses of staff showing where staff lived in proximity to the works; the register entitled ‘sick’ (WOLV 5/2/6) records staff member’s time taken off and their illness.
The archive contains records from the Boer War to World War Two. There are drawings showing stock built during wartime throughout the main series drawings (WOLV 3/2); there are however few files relating to World War One in the archive, possibly because of World War Two paper salvage drives. Reports to the Locomotive Committee (WOLV1/5) contain lists of men serving in wartime in the Boer War and World War One; staff time books (WOLV 5/4) show which staff members were conscripted and sometimes staff members who did not return from wars. There is a large series of Air Raid Precautions files (WOLV2/6) that cover how the works planned to protect itself from air raids during World War Two. One works book from 1918 (WOLV 4/5/1/1) describes how the works disinfected Chinese labour trains.
There are a large number of drawings of ambulance trains both for World War One and World War Two, dispersed through the main drawings series (WOLV 3/2). Some of these show components that make up carriages e.g. ashtrays, equipment, and some show the whole layout of the train and labels who would reside in each carriage; diagrams of ambulance trains can also be found in diagram books (WOLV 3/3). Photograph albums show the outside and inside of ambulance trains WOLV (3/7).
Royal Train Records
Drawings of royal trains (often named ‘special trains’) exist throughout ‘main series’ drawings (WOLV 3/2). These span from Queen Adelaide’s saloon (even though this was not built at Wolverton) and Queen Victoria’s saloon up to modern saloons from the BR period, including vehicles now in the National Collection.
Drawings from main series (WOLV 3/2) show the formation of trains on royal train journeys and where members of staff and the monarch would have been on the train; diagram books (WOLV 3/3) also contain layouts of royal saloons.
Files from the Drawing Office (WOLV 3/10) and correspondence files (WOLV 2/1) deal with a wide range of topics including staff, members of the royal family and government who travelled on the trains, wartime travel, and details of specific journeys. Files compiled by the Drawing Office (WOLV 3/10/1) describe who was travelling on the royal train on certain journeys.
Files also detail fixtures and fittings in carriages and how they were painted, as well as technical information covering the construction and modification of carriages. The correspondence file on the fire in the trimming shop (WOLV 2/5) describes a fire at the works in 1933 where local people and staff saved the royal train from damage, this includes press articles and personal message of thanks from the King. Photograph albums show pictures of royal vehicles including photographs of them under construction.
The archive contains records relating to objects in the National Collection including records on royal train carriages at the NRM. These can mostly be found in the main series drawing collection (WOLV 3/2) and in royal train files (WOLV 2/1, WOLV 3/10); there is a file covering the Duke of Sutherland’s Saloon (WOLV 2/18) which describes how it was transferred to the British Transport Commission instead of being sold, subsequently coming to the NRM. There are also files regarding the carriages to be pulled by the Flying Scotsman 1966-1969 (WOLV 3/11/3/2/57), carriages for the Coronation Scot service including an ‘order for new stock/specification’ file (WOLV 1/11), photographs (WOLV 3/7/1/5) and information on budgets (WOLV 4/7/1/9).
‘One off’ Records
The archive contains some ‘one off’ records that were presumably kept because they were deemed of historical interest. One of the oldest records in the collection is a letter from W.M.C. [surname illegible, possibly Coston], Blisworth, to Mr Fitzsimons, Wolverton (WOLV 1/3/1) from 1879, which appears to have been deliberately preserved. WOLV 1/4/3/11 contains two photographs of unnamed soldiers who presumably were members of staff. Records have been preserved from the LNWR Wolverton Savings Bank (WOLV 1/2), some of which have been photocopied, suggesting they were deemed ‘valuable’.
Some records are clearly part of a larger series and may have been retained accidently e.g. a volume containing references and paperwork received for newly employed staff members (WOLV 1/3/4) (this only covers two years); however the rest of the series has been lost.