Worthington Archive

Scope and Content

The collection includes letters, accounts, specifications and plans as well as railway memorabilia. The contents of the collection may be summarised as follows:

S. B. Worthington

S. B. Wothington’s material relates to, among others, the Sheffield - Rotherham Railway, Caledonian Railway, Paris - Rouen Railway, Orleans Railway, Lancaster & Preston Junction Railway, Lancaster & Carlisle Railway Company (absorbed by London & North Western Railway Company in 1879) and the Gauge Commission of 1846-1848.

W. B. Worthington

W. B. Worthington’s material is much more miscellaneous, but contains Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway reports of visits to America, items relating to arched bridges, 1840-1921, and rainfall, 1929-1932.

General Papers and Documents

These items do not seem to relate directly to the careers of either S. B. or W. B. Worthington and may therefore be records of interest to or railwayana collected by the Worthingtons. These papers relate to, among others: the Kelso – Berwick Railway, 1809, 1824; East Lothian Railway, 1825-1826; Forth of Clyde – Stirling Railway, 1826-1827; Clydesdale – Glasgow Railway, 1828; Liverpool & Manchester Railway, 1824, 1836; Railway Chronicle Travel Charts, c.1840-50; new railway station at Hunt’s Bank, Manchester; Manchester Ship Canal, 1835-1894.

Items from the Worthington Family Archive

Personal and mostly non-railway items including a notebook of Samuel Barton Worthington, an account of a walking holiday by William Barton Worthington, and a book of carte-de-visite photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

These papers relate to the careers of Samuel Barton Worthington and his son, William Barton Worthington, who were both railway engineers.

Samuel Barton Worthington (1820-1915)

Samuel Barton Worthington was articled to Joseph Locke in 1836 to work first on the construction of the Grand Junction Railway. He worked with Locke on many of the surveys of English and Scottish railways on which Locke was engaged, including the Glasgow-Greenock Railway, the Lancaster & Preston Junction railway, and the Sheffield & Manchester Railway. Between 1840 and 1844 he was in France with Locke working on the construction of the Paris to Rouen Railway. In 1844 he returned to England to be resident engineer for the southern half of the Lancaster & Carlisle Railway. When the line opened in 1846 he became engineer to the company. The Lancaster & Preston Junction Railway was placed under his charge in 1850. In 1859 the Lancaster & Carlisle was leased to the London & North Western Railway and Worthington was placed in charge of the lines from Carlisle to the Liverpool and Manchester line. In 1862 his division was extended to include all lines north of Crewe except the Cromford & High Peak Railway, and he remained Engineer of the London & North Western Railway Northern Division until his retirement in 1886. He practised as a consulting engineer from then until 1896. He was a Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers (1861) and the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (1860).

William Barton Worthington (1854-1939)

After four years at Owen's College at London University, William Barton Worthington was articled to his father, S. B. Worthington, who was then Engineer of the Northern Division of the London & North Western Railway. He then spent a year on the Carlisle Joint Station reconstruction works and a year as an assistant to Messrs. Blyth and Cunningham of Edinburgh on the Caledonian Railway works. In 1878 he was apprenticed resident engineer for the London & North Western Railway on new works in and around Manchester. He became an assistant to S. B. Worthington in 1883, and in 1886 was appointed Engineer of the Lancashire Division of the London & North Western Railway. In 1890 he became Assistant Engineer of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway, and was appointed Chief Engineer to the company seven years later. In 1905 he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Midland Railway. After his retirement in 1915, he practised as a consulting civil engineer in London. W. B. Worthington was elected President of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1917 but was prevented by illness from taking up office. He was able to serve as President in 1921-2 and then served on the Council until Nov. ember 1927. In 1923 he received an honorary degree of D.Sc. from Manchester University. He was also Chairman of the Engineering Joint Council in 1922-3, President of the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers in 1928, and a Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (1897).


It has not been possible to ascertain how Samuel Barton Worthington and William Barton Worthington arranged their papers. Therefore the collection has been arranged into four series, as follows:

  • Samuel Barton Worthington
  • William Barton Worthington
  • General Papers and Documents
  • Items from the Worthington Family Archive

Access Information

Access is given in accordance with the NRM access policy. Material form this archive is available to researchers through the Search Engine reading room.

The collection came to the National Railway Museum in an extremely fragile state. Conservation work has been undertaken on some of the items – these are marked with an asterisk (*) and are fully open to researchers. Other items are not yet available.

Opening times:

Search Engine is open to the public Wednesday to Saturday 10.00-5.30. You don't need an appointment to use the library collection but you will need to book at least a week ahead if you wish to look at archival material.

To make a booking, email: search.engine@nrm.org.uk. We recommend you contact us at least one week before your visit.

Contact details:

Address: Search Engine, National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ. Email: search.engine@nrm.org.uk

Check full details on the website at: http://www.nrm.org.uk/ResearchAndArchive/enquiriesandvisiting.aspx

Acquisition Information

1999-8291: Main part of the Archive (now series 1-3 in this catalogue) - donated to the National Railway Museum by William Barton Worthington’s nephew, Dr. Edgar Barton Worthington, CBE, in 1999.

2003-9270: Items from the Worthington Family Archive (now series 4 in this catalogue) – purchased from Maggs Bros. Ltd. in 2003.

Other Finding Aids

A list of the contents of the collection is appended to this catalogue.

Alternative Form Available

Not applicable.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The collection contains a wide variety of material, from hand –written notes and papers to printed pamphlets and plans. It also contains various volumes. Many of the items require conservation and repair, and are therefore not available to the public.

Archivist's Note

The draft handlist was prepared in January 2000 by Zöe Browne, Stacey Gee, Victoria Holmes and Tom Robson, students on the post-graduate archives administration course at the Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies, as part of a work placement at the National Railway Museum. Final editorial work on the handlist was carried out by Richard Taylor, Curator Archives Collections, National Railway Museum, in 2000 and by Tim Procter, Access Team Project Leader, National Railway Museum, in April 2004.

Description created by Jane Ronson (Archives Hub team) using the Archives Hub EAD Editor, May 2015.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied of items in the archive, provided that the copying process used does not damage the item or is not detrimental to its preservation. Copies will be supplied in accordance with the NRM’s terms and conditions for the supply and reproduction of copies, and the provisions of any relevant copyright legislation.

Appraisal Information

No appraisal of this collection has been undertaken.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

Related units of description in NRM archives, listed by Inventory number:

1976-8963: Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway, Free Ticket, W. B. Worthington Esq, Ivory (NRM Tickets, Passes & Labels).

1998-11491: Rule Book & regulations to be observed by Enginemen, Guards, Policemen, Breaksmen, Gatekeepers, Platelayers & others, issued by S. B. Worthington, Resident Engineer, Lancaster & Carlisle Railway. 1855. (NRM Library Collections).

Location of Originals

Not applicable.


The Railway Magazine 16 (1905), pp. 352, 526; 41 (1917), p. 379

Who was Who, 1929-1940, pp. 1489-1490

Journal of the ICE (1939-40), no. 4, p. 354

Proceedings of the ICE 200 (1915), pp. 466-8

Engineering 99 (1915), p. 196

John Marshall, A Biographical Dictionary of Railway Engineers (1978), p. 245