Charles Clinker Collection

Scope and Content

Papers relating to British railway history, especially that of the Great Western Railway (GWR) and railways in the London area, including books, maps, periodicals, timetables and several thousand photographs, c1920s-1980s. The books represent a strong collection on British railway history from earliest times to the early 1980s. There are some substantial runs of major periodical titles. A substantial collection of Bradshaw guides, working and passenger timetables, with the following archival material:

Clinker Collection comprising notes and correspondence relating to the publications of Charles Ralph Clinker on railway history, particularly his Register of closed passenger stations and goods depots in England, Scotland and Wales, 1830-1977 (1963, revised 1978) and papers relating to his 1982 revision of the History of the Great Western Railway (London, 1964) by E T MacDermot; timetables, including those for the Bristol area, 1880s-1970s; General Strike, 1926; timetables during other strikes, 1920s; Great Western and Midland, various notices; Midland and South Western Junction Railway timetables, 1885-1947; operation instructions, GWR, London Midland and Scottish (LMS), London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), Southern Railway (SR); GWR working of stations, 1939-1965; LMS Railway train marshalling, 1943-1944; LMS timetables, 1890s-1940s; train arrangements during World War One and World War Two, 1914-1918, 1939-1945; papers relating to Broadgauge conversion; papers relating to Golden Valley Railway, Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway and Leominster-Kington Railway; ephemera relating to the Hay Railway, 1811-1977; Southern Railway plans for stations west of Salisbury, 1905- (mainly 1920s-1930s); Severn Bridge, General Manager's file, 1936-1943; logging of train performances, 1918-1927; books and periodicals, including rare and 19th century printed material on the early railway system, particularly guidebooks and station instructions.

Clinker also collected the papers, photographs and other material of other railway historians, Charles Loch Mowat and Harold Vernon Borley [not yet catalogued].

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Ralph Clinker was born at Rugby in 1906 and joined the Great Western Railway from school in 1923 as a passenger train runner. By the outbreak of World War Two he had risen to become liaison officer for the four major railway companies with Southern Command HQ, and as such was involved in the planning and execution of the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 and the D-Day Landings in 1944. He left railway service in 1946 and devoted the rest of his life to research and lecturing on railway history, a taste which he had acquired when seconded to assist E. T. MacDermot in the preparation of his History of the Great Western Railway (London, 1927-1931), and which Clinker himself subsequently revised for republication in 1964. Clinker wrote numerous books and pamphlets on railway history; his Clinker's Register of closed passenger stations and goods depots in England, Scotland and Wales, 1830-1977 (1963, revised 1978) is widely regarded as his magnum opus. He died in 1983, leaving his collection to Brunel University Library.

Access Information

Available to researchers, by appointment. Access to archive material is subject to preservation requirements and must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation.

Acquisition Information

The collection was left by Charles Clinker to Brunel University Library in 1983.

Other Finding Aids

Some of the books and periodicals, and some timetables are catalogued on the Brunel Library Catalogue . This material in the collection is catalogued with the addition, where appropriate, of the item number in Ottley's Bibliography of British railway history . A finding aid is available on the Special Collections website for the Clinker archival material, although some remains uncatalogued. Please contact Special Collections with any queries.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Some of the collection is particularly fragile.

Conditions Governing Use

At the discretion of the Special Collections Librarian. Some of the photographs in the Clinker collection are in the copyright of the National Railway Museum, York. It may be possible to supply copies of other photographs, please contact the Special Collections Librarian . Acknowledgement for reproduction must be made to `Brunel University Library'.

Appraisal Information

The Clinker archival material was resorted into files roughly corresponding to scope and content

Custodial History

The collection was previously housed at the Runnymede campus (now closed) of Brunel University, but is now held in Special Collections within the University Library at Uxbridge.


Selective purchases have been made of new books in the area of British railway history, especially on the Great Western and railways in the London area.