This May sees the launch of Reading Museum’s major railway themed exhibition ‘On Track: Reading Railways, Past, Present and Future.’

Visitors are invited to jump on board for a journey through an extraordinary story, told with stunning imagery and must-see exhibits.

Reading station; On Track; Reading Museum
To the right of the statue of King Edward VII stands the South Eastern Railway Station, 1910s.
Image Paul Joyce Collection

The exhibition, which continues until January 2017, represents a key contribution to this month’s Reading Year of Culture heritage theme ‘The Story of Reading.’

The exhibition will trace the growth and impact of railways since the opening of the Great Western Railway Station at Reading in 1840. The railway has been at the heart of Reading life since the first passenger train left for London, pulled by a steam-powered engine called Firefly.

The exhibition highlights Reading’s association with significant figures in the history of the railways including Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sir Felix Pole, along with the long forgotten railway lines that once transported jam from Coley and biscuits from Newtown.

On Track also includes a selection of memorabilia gathered from local people, following an appeal for railway related souvenirs.

The exhibition is supported by the local rail industry and educational organisations. It has been generously sponsored by Resourcing Solutions Ltd, the Reading based rail and engineering recruitment specialist.

Cllr Paul Gittings, Reading Lead Member for Culture, Sport and Consumer Services, said: “This fascinating railway exhibition is a perfect complement to the Year of Culture. The impact of the railway on Reading has been immense and the new train station is a fundamental part of the town’s future development.

“I’m positive this exhibition will be worthy of the very generous support we have received from our local rail industry partners. We are also delighted to have UTC Reading on board as the project’s education and learning partner and I’m sure the science and engineering fun days will be exciting experiences for all the family to join in with.”

Overseeing the project, Museum Manager, Matthew Williams added: “Reading’s railway heritage is a huge story and well represented in the social history collection at the museum. Thanks to the response from the public, we can also uncover the more personal stories from Reading people who have used or worked on the railways and so make this the people’s history of Reading’s Railway.”

Richard Lawrance, CEO of Resourcing Solutions, said: “There are parallels between our company’s success today and how businesses like Sutton Seeds took off and flourished in the past, thanks to the railways. We are delighted to be able to support Reading Museum to tell this fascinating story.”

On Track: Reading Railways, Past, Present and Future opens in the Madejski Gallery at Reading Museum on Tuesday 21 May 2016 and runs until 14 January 2017.

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