The future of the Railway Heritage Committee

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The Government has announced the abolition of the Railway Heritage Committee which has served the rail industry by continuing the work of identifying railway records and artefacts for preservation, started by British Railways over 60 years ago.

Following debate in the House of Lords on the future of the Railway Heritage Committee (RHC) on Monday 28th February, the Committee’s Acting Chairman, Peter Ovenstone said:

“I welcome the statement from the Minister, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, that the Government sees merit in the proposed transfer of the RHC’s powers of designation to the board of the trustees of the National Museum of Science & Industry to continue the work of protecting Britain’s railway heritage.  I am grateful for the positive support for the work of the Railway Heritage Committee expressed during the debate, and particularly to Lord Faulkner of Worcester, the Committee’s former Chairman, for his support during this period.

“Further discussions will now take place before final decisions are made, and I and members of the Committee are ready to assist these discussions and to ensure an orderly transition to the new arrangements when they have been determined.”

The Railway Heritage Committee was established by the Railway Heritage Act, 1996, and took over from the British Railways Board the role of designating historic railway artefacts and records.  When no longer wanted by rail companies, the Committee can direct their disposal for safe keeping, including to the National Railway Museum, heritage railways and to local museums and archives.

The RHC is a Non Departmental Public Body with 10 members drawn from the rail industry, heritage railways, the National Museum of Science and Industry, the National Archives of Scotland and includes other members with expertise in conservation and archiving.

The Chairman and members of the Committee and its specialist sub-committees are all unpaid and the Committee has for many years operated with a paid staff of one, the Secretary.

 

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