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Page last updated at 08:09 GMT, Tuesday, 28 September 2010 09:09 UK
AHOTW: Glass dish points to Leicester railway history
Leicester West Bridge Station
Some station platforms on the Leicester to Swannington railway line still remain

A glass salt dish, which was submitted to the BBC's A History of the World online database, has been traced back to Leicester's first railway line.

It is believed to have been used during celebrations for the line opening.

The object was uploaded by Stuart Bailey from Loughborough, who is chairman of Leicester Civic Society.

He was given the small but fascinating piece of railway history from his godfather, Reginald Garlick of Kirby Muxloe in the 1960s.

Stuart said, "He was a most eloquent man, a highly qualified elocutionist with a beautiful speaking voice.

Salt dish
The folk memory that comes down to us with the dish may be out by a couple of stations
Stuart Bailey, Leicester Civic Society

"The story of the dish came directly from him. He gave it to me some years before his untimely death."

Reginald's father was the signalman at the station at Kirby Muxloe for many years and the glass dish was used by him in the signal box as an ashtray.

Stuart was told that the dish had originally come from a luncheon set used for a light meal on the platform in honour of the distinguished guests on the first train to pass through Glenfield Station.

However accounts from the line opening in 1832, although confirming the 'Comet' locomotive did stop in Glenfield after loosing its chimney in a tunnel, indicate the dish was more likely to have been used at the terminus in Bagworth.

"So the folk memory that comes down to us with the dish may be out by a couple of stations."

History lesson

The Leicester to Swannington railway was only the fourth line in the whole country.

Leicester West Bridge Station
West Bridge railway station in 1832 - the year the line opened

Robert Stephenson built it following the Liverpool to Manchester Railway and the Stockton to Darlington line. Many of the men who ran the line were from the north-east.

Stephenson built all his railway lines to the same gauge - 4 feet 8.5 inches as he firmly believed that one day all his lines would join together. This same gauge is the standard today in the UK and across much of the world.

The Leicester to Swannington Line is the source of another piece of folklore.

It is said that Stephenson invented the steam whistle - which was later attached to every steam locomotive when built - here in Leicestershire after an accident where the line crosses a road in the village of Thornton.

A train smashed into a cart loaded with vegetables en route to market.

A History of the World

The BBC and British Museum's collaborative project, A History of the World, is drawing to a close.

It aimed to build a digital museum of manmade objects, revealing the stories of people and places linked to them.

Ten artefacts from Leicestershire were chosen by local museums, that they felt best represented the county's history and connections with the wider world.

Further objects were uploaded to the database by members of the public to create the historical catalogue.


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