Archive Service Accreditation is the new quality standard for archives services across the UK and achieving accredited status demonstrates that an archive service has achieved clearly defined national standards relating to management and resourcing; the care of its unique collections and what the service offers to its entire range of users. Accredited archive services are also recognised for their capacity to seize opportunities which bring benefits across the service and mitigate potential risks to ensure the sustainability of the service.
Network Rails archive looks after and catalogues legal documents, deeds, drawings and other information from the dawn of the railways that is still needed today.
Vicky Stretch, Network Rail’s archivist said: “Network Rail is a young company with a significant engineering and operational inheritance. Theres a huge value to the business of having a good archive. Its the accumulation of knowledge from right across the business, and that means we have a record of what was done, why it was done and in what context decisions were made.
Being one of the first businesses in the country to achieve the standard is a real reward for the work we do, especially as our archive has only been around for five years – weve come a long way in a short amount of time. Managing a modern business archive alongside records from the very earliest days of the railway, helps us deliver a better railway for Britain now and safeguards our chapter for future generations.”
Some of Railways Greatest Names
Among the interesting items filed in the archive are the very earliest drawings of the Forth Bridge, title deeds for all the land Network Rail owns some of which date back to the 1600s and drawings signed by Brunel and George Stephenson.Network Rail and its contractors still use these drawings when working on the network, which includes some of the oldest railway in the world.
Vicky added: If you think about the impact the railways have had over the past 200 years, Network Rail is the 21st century part of that story. What were doing now is the next chapter in the history of the railway, and its really important our story is told in another 100 years time.
In February 2012 Network Rail launched its virtual archive which celebrates the heritage of todays railway infrastructure and provides public access to view a special selection of the Network Rail archive, which holds over five million records.
Visitors to the site can chart the history of the railways most significant structures and stations including the Forth Bridge, the Tay Bridge, Box Tunnel, and many main line stations. The archive holds records by the most famous railway engineers including Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Robert Stephenson, Joseph Locke and William Henry Barlow.