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History Mysteries: The hunt for the lost railway

Updated Wednesday 18th January 2006

The History Mysteries team investigate the story of a remarkable Victorian railwayman.

Miranda aboard steam train Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission

Barrie Lamb is from Darlington, birthplace of the railways. He shares the name of a local railway celebrity, John Lamb, who was an engine driver in the 19th century, and who was so loved that a monument was erected in his honour.

Barrie has long suspected that John was his great-grandfather, so he wants Jonathan, Miranda and Nick to find out if they really are related, and why he was so revered by his community.

First, Miranda finds out about the man himself. Along with journalist Chris Lloyd she uncovers a photograph and old newspaper reports about his cheerful nature, his local council work, and finally his tragic death.

Nick uses Lamb’s obituary to start researching his family tree, and scours the council archives. Can he find a link between John and Barrie Lamb?

Jonathan explores Lamb’s strange monument, and discovers just how important a figure he must have been. After visiting the steam engines in the local museum, he sets about painting a reconstruction of the bustling railway sheds that John Lamb would have known.

Miranda meets experts at the Darlington Railway Museum to learn about the hardships – and perks – of life on the railways. Are the team any closer to finding out why Lamb, just a lowly railwayman, was so revered? What had he done to warrant a note of condolence as prominent as the King’s in the local archives?

The team discover just how important railway workers were in Victorian society, at the forefront of Britain’s great industrial activity, and finally they can reveal to Barrie the truth about his heritage – he is the great-grandson of the illustrious John Lamb.

 

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