National Railway Museum - The Soldiers' and Sailors' Canteen

Posted on 11 March 2014

For the placement module of my MA in Public History I was lucky enough to work on a project with the National Railway Museum.

National Railway Museum Logo

For the placement module of my MA in Public History I was lucky enough to work on a project with the National Railway Museum. A common misconception of this institution is that it is only attractive to train enthusiasts, but this is definitely not the case. The project that I worked on, although linked closely to the railways, also told the stories of many individuals and so was very appealing to the social historian in me. I looked into the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Canteen, set up in some train carriages in the station for servicemen travelling by train to or from the front. It was run by a group of ladies in York, and was open twenty four hours a day from 15th November 1915 to 23rd May 1919.

My research led me down many different avenues, and I hit some dead ends. However, it also gave me the chance to consider what York would have been like as a city during World War One; the troubles it would have faced and the successes it had, however small.

This placement also gave me excellent insight into how the Exhibition and Interpretation department of a museum works, and just how many people work towards making an exhibition happen. I would definitely recommend a placement with the National Railway Museum, as it is an exciting and rewarding place to get a chance to work in.

Alexandra Baker

Public History MA Placement