Museum Snapshots

Big Four Railway Museum

Post mark for the Big Four Railway museum

Some museums are well documented, while others can be rather elusive. A case in point is the Big Four Railway Museum in Bournemouth, about which we know very little. According to one source it housed a collection of railway locomotive name plates belonging to the enthusiast Frank Burridge and was open in the 1980s. As this postmark suggests, it may also have hosted temporary exhibitions.

Burridge wrote a book about locomotive name plates. As the book’s cover indicates, the Big Four were the four main railway companies in the United Kingdom between 1923 and 1947: Great Western Railway, London, Midland and Scottish Railway, London and North Eastern Railway, and Southern Railway.

A postcard apparently showing the museum’s interior is reproduced below.

Interior of the big four museum with name plates

Images via ebay and Alwyn Ladell on Flickr.


4 replies on “Big Four Railway Museum”

I visited this museum once and the illustration is not as I remember it – one large room had each of its four walls dedicated to an individual railway company; not a mixture as in this photograph. The owner bemoaned the fact that, though his museum which was set back and not visible from the road, he was not permitted by the council to advertise its existence on the pavement outside – you needed to be aware of both its existence and location before going.

Does anyone know what happened to the collection?

The owner was Frank Burridge who also wrote at least one book called (appropriately) ‘Nameplates Of The Big 4’ in 1975. I visited the museum once or twice and as David Grainger implies, it was quite well hidden, off Dalkeith Steps in the town centre. I’d estimate that it was open from about 1975 to about 1982. The premises are now the home of Dalkeith Auctions. My mother knew Frank’s daughter (they were at the same school), who used to look after the museum when Frank wasn’t available. Several postcards and ‘First Day Covers’ were produced, which like his book, still crop up on online auction sites from time to time.

Hi I have two very interesting First day covers, one with Stephenson’s Locomotion 1825 first day of issue, and the other Caerphilly Castle 1923, first day of issue 13th August 1975. These were issued by ‘The Big Four Railway Museum and Model Centre’ commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the first public railway in the world. On these two first day covers it states ‘double cover’ and celebrates the opening of the railway museum which was on 13th August 1975. Hope this helps with the start date. I was working in Bournemouth at that time and often shopped as far up as Dalkeith Steps (home of the museum) but I never noticed it so it was certainly well hidden.

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