2015

Rail workers remembered as new World War I exhibition launches at Edinburgh Waverley station

The critical role played by the railway during World War I features in a new exhibition at Edinburgh Waverley station from 27 April until 8 June 2015. 

Presented by the Rail Delivery Group, the free display charts how the railway helped sustain the war effort and is a completely revamped design from the exhibition which toured stations last year as part of the centenary celebrations. Visitors can also research their ancestors who died in the war, through Poppy Scotland’s ‘Everyman Remembered’ interactive screen featured in the exhibition.

Photos, soldiers’ letters and unique memorabilia commemorate:

  • The railway’s vital work transporting troops, horses, military equipment and medical supplies to ports around Britain
  • The 100,000 railway workers who fought in the war and the 20,000 who gave their lives
  • Women’s role – for the first time, women stepped in to work on the railways (previously a male preserve)
  • How the Quintinshill rail disaster provided the impetus for improvements in rail safety. Today, Britain’s railway is the safest in Europe

Scotland and the City of Edinburgh made a major contribution to the war effort:

  • Of the 10 Scottish regiments it was estimated that about 100,000 men were killed – representing a quarter of Scots who fought
  • Many Edinburgh hospitals were used to treat war casualties. Notably, the city’s Craiglockhart Hospital treated soldiers suffering from shell-shock. Patients included celebrated poets Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon
  • The German Navy sailed into the Firth of Forth to surrender in November 1918.

Michael Roberts, Director General of the Rail Delivery Group, said:

“As the nation commemorates the centenary of World War I, it’s important we remember the railway’s role sustaining the war effort, without which the nation’s troops, military and medical supplies would not have been operational. Our rich rail heritage makes Edinburgh Waverley an ideal location to showcase this exhibition, with the recent station redevelopment providing a timely link to the golden age of the railway and the current period of major investment.”

Juliet Donnachie, station manager at Edinburgh Waverley, added:

“Every year on Armistice Day, Waverley stops to remember those who died in World War I and the station is proud to be able host this unique new exhibition. It promises to bring the past alive through fascinating photos and railway memorabilia – telling the story behind the war memorials commuters pass in stations across the country every day.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

The exhibition is produced by the Rail Delivery Group, which brings together Network Rail and rail operators.

Exhibition photographs have been supplied by the National Railway Museum. All relevant historical images accompanying this press release should be credited to the National Railway Museum.

The Edinburgh Waverley exhibition forms the start of a nationwide tour with details of future locations to be announced.

Edinburgh Waverley is Britain’s largest train station outside London.  Waverley Station is of critical importance to Scotland’s historic, environmental and commercial well-being, as well as being key to delivering capacity for new rail lines such as the reopening of the Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link. The station was first opened in 1846 and was rebuilt between 1892-1902.  The station recently underwent a £130 million investment programme, creating an environment that meets passenger needs of passengers while preserving Waverley’s rich heritage.

There are six train operators at Edinburgh Waverley station:

  • Abellio ScotRail
  • Caledonian Sleeper
  • CrossCountry
  • First TransPennine Express
  • Virgin Trains
  • Virgin Trains East Coast
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