The Inverness Question
A major bibliography now comprising three thick volumes owes its genesis to a question about Inverness which could not be answered in the British Museum Library. This is revealed in the preface to the second supplement to the Bibliography of British railway history written by the founder compiler, George Ottley FLA. (Fellow of the Library Association)
"In July 1952 an enquiry desk was set up in the British Museum Library's Reading Room and three reference librarians were appointed to run it. It usually fell to me to deal with transport related enquiries and one of the earliest of these was for drawings or diagrams of the two locomotives of the Inverness and Nairn Railway, a 15½ mile line opened in 1855 and amalgamated into the Inverness and Aberdeen Junction Railway three years later.
This enquiry was not resolved but in the process of trying to find possible fruitful sources it became clear that there was a need for a single reference work for railway history research. I saw this as a challenge which I could tackle with enthusiasm and so began a twelve year long venture resulting in the publication of the first volume of A bibliography of British railway history in 1965".
The original publishers were Allen & Unwin and the [first] supplement was published by the Stationery Office in 1988. The S O had also published a new edition of the original in 1983. The new second supplement was published in 1998 by the National Railway Museum in York priced £49.50 (ISBN 1 872826 10 5) and lists publications up to the end of 1995. There is now a total of 19,600 entries in the three volumes.
The original enquiry which started the whole project could probably now be answered by item 18037 Highland Railway locomotives by J R H Cormack and J L Stevenson or by the vast resources now available in the National Railway Museum Library in York. We have come a long way since 1952.