Railway and Public Utility Plans

The core collection

In the 1940s The National Library of Wales acquired a collection of railway and other public utility plans, largely centring upon the work of Henry Robertson, a Scottish engineer working in mid and north Wales between 1842 and 1888.

Minor acquisitions have been added over the years, bringing the collection to about 12,000 items, though 20% to 30% are duplicate items or copies with minor variations. Around 10% of the collection relates to public and commercial utilities such as canals and docks, roads and mines.

The railway plans relate mostly to the period 1860 to 1900 and are almost exclusively concerned with civil engineering and construction; only about 100 to 150 items relate to rolling stock. Some 1,400 items are particularly fragile, being on tracing paper, and have been encapsulated for protection.

The majority of the collection can be ordered through the Library’s online catalogue and viewed in the South Reading Room.

Other collections with railway and public utility plans

There are numerous railway and public utility plans held in special deposits and named collections. The most important are:

  • The Scott-Archer Collection, concerned mainly with Mid-Wales and the Marches, and including plans for many lines which were subsequently not built
  • The Longueville and Wynnstay Collections, concerned with Mid and North Wales railways
  • The Bute Collection contains plans of lines around Cardiff, including the Cardiff, Barry, and Taff Vale Railways, and the lines at Bute Docks
  • The Maybery Collection contains plans for railways in South Wales
  • The Piercy Collection mainly contains plans for railways in North-East Wales

In addition, there are railway plans in the Jenkins Resolven, and Harpton Court collections, and many other collections also contain some railway plans.


  • Frazer Henderson, The railway engineers and architects of Wales (Aberystwyth, 1991)