History of the RCHS2018-12-02T19:19:48+00:00

History of the RCHS

The Railway & Canal Historical Society was formed by what became the six founder members at a meeting in Preston on 4th September 1954. The six were Maurice Greville, Bertram Baxter, Gordon Biddle, Charles Clinker, Kenneth Seaward and Geoffrey Holt.

For a list of our Presidents and other principal Officers since 1954 click here. (It seems that to become President in our early years it was advantageous to be called Charles!)

For reflections after 25, 40 and 50 years use the following links:

The first 25 years:  RCHS at 25

The first 40 years:  RCHS at 40

The first 50 years:  RCHS at 50

Additionally at the 50 year anniversary Gordon Biddle looked back to the early years: ReflectionsAfter50Years

Before January 1959, the Journal was the only regular publication and contained routine society informations as well as articles.  Here you will find Bulletin number one – January 1959.

The NW Group was formed in 1958. The RCHS Journal published a report on its first year. For extracts from the Journal and an editorial note by Roger Taylor use the link: NW Group: the first year

In 1973 Waterways World included an article reviewing some of the activities of the RCHS – click Waterways World, Sept 1973

Our Logo – and why our ‘house colour’ is blue

Grahame Boyes provided the following information in the November 2004 Journal:

As a footnote to the history of the Society, it should be recorded that its logo (or badge or emblem, as it was then called) was first used in January 1965 on the cover of the first printed issue of the Journal. (Previous issues had been reproduced by a duplicating machine.) It appeared on the Society’s headed notepaper from about the same date.

The design, in the style of a trade token, was undertaken by Kenneth Lindley (1928-86), a notable wood engraver. (The British Library catalogue lists 27 books that he illustrated and, in some cases, also wrote.) He was a member of the Society from 1964 to 1976. His original design was executed as a woodcut, from which printing blocks were then made. Maurice Berrill, who was the Council member delegated to deal with Mr Lindley, recalls that, when the design was shown to Council, there was general approval of the overall style, ‘but there was some disquiet among the more traditional members about what they saw as a rather quirky and unrealistic depiction of an antique locomotive, the smoke from which artistically masked (or perhaps masqueraded as) the ampersand in the Society’s initials, while its wheels appeared to be about to burst through the crown of the viaduct arches, to the considerable detriment of the narrow-boat below’¹

In the end, however, the design was adopted without further fuss and brought into use without any mention in either the Journal or Bulletin. In 1966, members’ notepaper was made available, carrying in the top left-hand comer a smaller version of the logo surrounded by the words `Railway and Canal Historical Society : Member’. Like the official letter heads, it was printed to a high standard by another long-standing member, John H Denton, who was then running the Cottage Press at Codsall, Staffordshire. A small file, containing some sample off-prints from the blocks, was found in a collection formerly the property of the late member, David Garnett, and has been returned to the Society. The logo which has been printed on the cover of recent issues of the Journal has suffered from being a copy of a copy. It is planned to use a crisper version reproduced from one of these early off-prints, which will clearly show the designer’s initials.

Navy-blue had already been adopted as the Society’s ‘house colour’², having been used for the banner heading of the Bulletin since the first issue in January 1959, and this colour was used for both the Society’s and members’ notepaper. At the same time the logo was produced as a members’ lapel badge of chromium-plated cast metal with a blue and white enamelled background. In 1972 it was woven in white on navy-blue or dark red members’ ties. (There have been two later editions of the members’ ties in different colours.) Over time, the shade of blue used on the letterhead became progressively brighter. When in 1995 the East Midlands Group made available a members’ sweat shirt carrying the logo, it was a bright blue that was one of the colours offered.

¹. Letter to the writer, March 2004

². In the following March 2005 Journal, Gordon Biddle added:

Grahame Boyes’ letter has stirred a memory of the choice of blue for the Society’s ‘house colour’. At the first Council meeting, as Hon Secretary I was asked to obtain a supply of printed letter-headed notepaper. I asked, ‘What colour?’ Clinker suggested green, but I saw Baxter shaking his head. Greville said he didn’t mind what colour was used provided it wasn’t red or black. So I visited a local jobbing printer and chose a serifed typeface in royal blue, which I thought looked appropriately dignified for what we hoped would become a learned society, and blue has remained our house colour ever since.