Since occupying The Old Ticket Office, Entikera Ltd have understandably developed an interest in the history of the building together with its operation and place within the GWR. A small but growing collection of items has been gathered for general display in the Old Ticket Office. As it is a working environment which must take into account the varying constraints imposed upon space, provision for displaying these items can vary from time to time. It may not always be possible therefore to view the complete collection as it stands at any one time as the balance of the collection will be held off site. There are however always a good number of items and old photographs to see.
Displayed in various places around the Waiting Room are a number of GWR related models. Just behind the main entrance door, screwed to the wall, is what is left of an old shelf unit. Who decided to put it there is not known, but Network Rail reckon it is an original GWR unit and there it must remain. It is a useful unit upon which to display part of the model collection held at the station, some of which have a particularly local interest. The private owner coal wagons feature merchants from Morris Cowley station, Oxford, Culham itself and J.H Hutt & Sons in Cholsey who still trade and supply fuel for Entikera to use in the open fire.
The book collection includes some modern, and not so modern, books which contain reference to Culham station or are of general GWR interest. The greater portion however are original publications by the Great Western Railway itself.
The GWR made widespread use of printed material to publicise itself and the merits of travelling to various locations by rail. For example, a three volume series on Castles, Abbeys and Cathedrals was made available. Each volume included a map of the GWR system in the back and only featured those locations which were accessible via GWR trains. They also published a three volume history of the GWR in 1927/1931. These and a number of other original books and booklets aimed at the travelling public are held in the collection together with several very early train spotters booklets and timetables from the 1930's and 1940's.
The GWR sold many different wooden jigsaws, all made exclusively by Chad Valley. Only two feature local places of interest being Brazenose College and High Street in Oxford. Both feature in the collection and whilst the boxes are in poor condition, both these puzzles are complete.
Some publications were intended for internal use only, being staff reference books and rule books. One regular staff publication was the 'Great Western Railway Magazine' which was published monthly right up until Nationalisation. It was priced at 1 penny per copy for the 'Ordinary edition', but for 2 pence one could buy the 'Art edition' which contained more pictures or, again for 2 pence, the 'Insurance edition'. The extra penny of the latter contributing to a staff health insurance scheme. Many examples of each of these have been collected including one celebrating the 100th anniversary of the GWR and the very last one before Nationalisation. Bound editions were also produced, and the very earliest book in the collection is the one dating from 1906.
Other internal publications on view at the Old Ticket Office include rule books, reference manuals on Station Accountancy and Staff Association information books. Many examples of everyday GWR paperwork also reside in the collection.
There are a few items of clothing in the collection, one shown here is a GWR Porter’s jacket of unknown origin and date, possibly from 1930’s but looking unused! On top is what is believed to be a GWR Porter’s cap again of unknown origin and date, but the peak and button suggest that it dates from the 1860’s. The cap is fairly small and might have been worn by a boy porter. One visitor thought that the picture of an engine on the button associated it more with the Taff Vale Railway which became a part of Great Western Railway on 1 January 1922.
The collection holds a number of brass GWR buttons from different periods and in a variety of styles.
Edmondson date punches
In the collection are two Edmondson ticket date punches. One is unmarked but the other is Waterlow & Sons London, serial no 4063 and is complete with both spools, ribbon and some original date type. Both are of unknown origin and date but serve to illustrate the type of equipment which would have been present in the ticket office.
Operation was purely mechanical. When a ticket is pushed into the slot it is gripped by the moving jaws which serve to press it against the ribbon and date type. The ribbon would then be automatically advanced by a ratchet mechanism. Every morning the ticket clerk would have to reset and ink the ribbon and change the date type which is held in place beneath the knurled knob seen near the middle.
This system of dating pre-numbered tickets was devised by Thomas Edmondson, a trained cabinet maker, who became a station master on the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway. Previously, railway companies had used handwritten tickets, but it was laborious for a ticket clerk to write out a ticket for each passenger. He devised a complete system using pre-printed tickets that was both faster and one which could be audited as the takings had to be reconciled against the serial numbers of the unsold tickets at the end of each day. The tickets were printed on card cut to 1 7⁄32 by 2 1⁄4 inches, with a nominal thickness of 1⁄32 inch. Stocks would have been kept stacked in racks within a cabinet so that the next ticket in sequence could be taken from the correct rack. Whilst stations held stocks of tickets for popular destinations and classes of travel, blank tickets were also available for use when an appropriate pre-printed ticket was not held at the issuing station.
Whilst the date punches are no longer operational, visitors to the Old Ticket Office can still take away one of the souvenir tickets which have been specially produced. Prospective passengers sometimes come to the office to buy a ticket thinking it is still in railway use. Being unmanned, Culham is a 'no penalty fare station' so they can buy tickets for travel either on the train or at their destination.