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Celebrating Stratford’s Transport Heritage

Inspired by a new exhibition from our partners at Escape Arts, we explore some of Stratford's transport heritage in our collections.

Jim Ranahan
Stratford Railway Station
Stratford Railway Station c. 1910

Stratford-upon-Avon is recognised globally as a tourist destination, witnessed daily by the procession of trains and coaches bringing visitors to the town.  The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) hosts many of these visitors and its collections reflect both the arrival of tourists over the years and the movement of people around and through Stratford. Archives, books and museum objects celebrate Stratford’s railways, canals and road transport, including the stories of people who worked and travelled on them.

The latest addition to our collections is a book showcasing the railway photography of a Stratford resident, Thomas Williams - ‘T.E. Williams, The Lost Colour Collection, Volume 1’, published in 2017.

T E Williams The Lost Colour Photographs
Library reference 93.025 WIL

Stratford’s changing railway scene in the 1950s is revealed through Tom William’s view-finder and this work forms the basis of an exciting exhibition hosted by our partners ‘Escape Arts’ at the Old Slaughterhouse Arts & Heritage Studio, Sheep Street. ‘Stratford’s Lost Railways, Yesterday and Today’ has been designed and curated by Tom Williams’ son Philip, providing a rare glimpse into Stratford’s complex railway history. Launching to coincide with Heritage Open Days on 9 & 10 September, the exhibition will run until December 2017. 

In recognition of this important contribution to Stratford’s transport heritage, SBT is promoting its own transport holdings, so visitors to the exhibition can follow up their research in the Shakespeare Centre on Henley Street. Our ‘Guide to Transport Sources’ has been refreshed and we are developing a source list of transport collections, to reflect their large extent and sometimes surprising nature – for instance a jig-saw puzzle, produced by the Great Western Railway in 1934 to promote Stratford as a tourist destination, not least with the United States flag highlighting Harvard House’s American credentials (as the ancestral home of the ‘founder’ of Harvard University). 

Great Western Railway Jigsaw Puzzle 1934

Harvard House will be open to the public as part of SBT’s contribution to Heritage Open Days on 9 & 10 September, as will the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Shakespeare Centre – with a display showcasing our collections relating to travel.


Further reading:

Explore more of the SBT collections through our online catalogue, and learn more about the ‘Stratford’s Lost Railways’ exhibition at Escape Arts.