Free train travel….if you are George Stephenson.

The pass is one of six similar tokens held within the IMechE’s archive collection. Tokens such as these were presented by a railway company to an individual and entitled the holder to free travel on that company’s rail services.

The tokens in our collection were all presented to George Stephenson many by virtue of his involvement with the railway company through serving positions such as Director, Engineer-in-Chief and Civil Engineer.

As well as this pass from the Whitehaven Junction Railway (for whom George Stephenson was the engineer-in-chief) we also hold passes presented by the following railway companies; the Yarmouth and Norwich Railway, the Eastern Counties Railway, the Whitehaven Junction Railway, the Leicester and Swannington Railway, the Midland Counties’ Railway and the Grand Junction Railway.

Dating from the 1830s and 1840s the tokens and their respective railway companies signify the boom of small private companies who formed to create local rail links.

The tokens were made from a range of materials that were available during the early 19th Century and we hold tokens made from metal, ivory and mother of pearl.

The tokens have been digitised and 3D versions of the tokens can be viewed at: https://archives.imeche.org/archive/artefacts

Archives, Institution of Mechanical Engineers

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