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Friends of the Railway Studies Collection

About the Club

The Friends of the Railway Studies Collection (the ‘Friends’) support the Railway Studies Collection (the ‘Collection’), an extensive library instigated by the late David St John Thomas of David & Charles publishers. 

The Collection is one of the larger collections of UK and Ireland railway history and has over 16,000 books covering all aspects of railways and tramways. Books in the Collection are arranged by a revised version of the ‘Ottley’ classification scheme which is a similar scheme to that used by the National Railway Museum. The Collection also comprises over 85,000 photographs, an extensive collection of railway periodicals, working and public timetables, track and signal diagrams, plus an extensive digitised archive of railway related articles.

Housed within the Newton Abbot public library, the Collection is available from 9am to 6pm Mondays to Thursdays, 9am to 5pm Fridays, and 9am to 4pm on Saturdays. Some of the books can now be borrowed with the remainder being reference only.  The Friends support the Collection by various means including fund raising for the purchase of new titles and the purchase of equipment and resources to assist the library in growing the Collection, and the disposal of duplicate railway books using the funds raised to reinvest in the Collection.

A current task is the identification of photographs, compiling a data base of the Collection’s photographs and the digitisation of the Collection’s railway slides. To keep the Friends updated a monthly newsletter is circulated with news and articles and photos submitted by the Friends. 

The Friends also hold meetings on the third Tuesday of the month with the programme running from September to June. Talks cover all aspects of railways including some foreign topics. Friends can attend meetings for free, guests pay a nominal sum of £2. Additionally there are usually duplicate railway books for sale. 

Benefits of Membership

  • Support one of the largest railway book collections in the country

  • Regular ‘presentation style’ meetings on railway themes

Meeting Days

At least monthly, typically Tuesday evenings.

Meeting Venue

First floor of the Passmore Edwards Centre, Market Street, Newton Abbot, Devon.




Membership fee


How to Join:

Go along to a Friends meeting or visit the Railway Studies Collection and ask if any ‘Friend’ volunteers are present.

Or write to The Secretary, G. Walker, 68 Mile End Road, Newton Abbot TQ12 1RW enquiring for information on membership.

Other Societies With Related Interest

Nearest Heritage Railway

South Devon Railway / Dartmouth Steam Railway

Nearest Model Railway Club

South Devon Model Railway Society

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