January is the month of resuming and restarting, and for many of us that means getting back into the habit of the working commute. Today, over 1.5 billion of our journeys are made by train across the UK each year, and all that is made possible with the help of a ticket.
Today, we can purchase our tickets online, in person or on the day, and they come in both electronic and paper forms. Back in the good old days, however, the tickets were laboriously hand written until the Edmondson railway ticket machine arrived into travellers’ lives in the 1840s. This machine was invented by the cabinet maker turned station master, Thomas Edmondson, as he worked on the Carlisle-Newcastle line. First introduced on the Manchester and Leeds railway, his machine was used nationwide up until the 1990s.
Tullie House’s Edmondson railway ticket machine comes from Brampton, where Edmondson worked as the station master and was used on the Newcastle to Carlisle line. Manufactured by Pratchett’s of Carlisle it’s one of the museums most prized objects from the social history collection. The machine itself remains in good working order, even if the brass plaque is a little worn.
The Edmondson Railway Ticket Machine, front view @ Copyright Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust
A ticket for the last train journey on the Carlisle to Silloth railway @ Copyright Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust