Thanks in part to the 10th International Railway Congress taking place in Britain, that year, the LNER Centenary celebrations attracted word- wide attention, in a way that the LMS Liverpool and Manchester Centenary, and the Great Western failed to quite match.
Wednesday 1st July
The LNER was never a prosperous undertaking, but whenever the opportunity offered to promote itself, it did so with superb attention to detail and panache. With the LNER managment structure composed of three divisions, each with a measure of autonomy, the lead in this instance fell to the North Eastern, under Divisional General Manager, George Davidson, who was on their arrival at Darlington Bank Top first LNER officer to be presented to the Duke and Duchess of York (themselves an appropriate choice of Royal Sponsors, given that before her marriage, the Duchess had been Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, with many family connections in the North East). Mr. Davidson accompanied the party by motor car to Faverdale Wagon Works, for a visit to the Exhibition. It should be noted that all these events were timed to the nearest MINUTE! At the works entrance, the party were received by William Whitelaw, Chairman of the LNER, Lord Faringdon, Deputy Chairman and Sir Ralph Wedgwood, Chief General Manager.
After speeches and a brief opening ceremony (at 3-23pm! Perhaps in deference to the Duke’s difficulty in public speaking, he merely had to declare the exhibition open) their Royal Party viewed the Exhibition from 3.30 pm (Mr. Nigel Gresley, Chief Mechanical Engineer, was on hand to explain some of the exhibits) before departing, again by motor car at 4.15 pm. Five minutes were allowed for leaving the Exhibition to reaching the motor cars at the gate. The Exhibition then opened to the public.
There were 353 pictures and prints, 21 framed cases and glass topped tables of documents and small exhibits, 96 items of signalling equipment, and 45 samples of permanent way materials and equipment. There were 64 models of locomotives and rolling stockrks and in the yard outside 105 full sized engines, carriages and wagons.
The catalogue provides a comprehensive list of all the exhibits, many of the smaller items of LNER origin went to form a nucleus of the first York Railway Museum.
The venue, Faverdale Wagon Works, was only a couple of years old, so would not have required too much sprucing up, particularly as a major part of the activity was woodworking.
As a retired former railwayman, specialising in Public Relations, having been involved in events ranging from my first solo effort, the opening of a new Concourse at Leeds City, (since demolished!) through to the inauguration of electric train services from Kings Cross to Leeds, with innumerable station openings, loco and power car namings, Royal Visits, and a major role in “Rail 150”, I can only say that I am full of admiration for what my predecessors achieved.