Display celebrates life for the queen of steam

QUEEN OF THE RAILWAYS: Mabel Kitson is pictured with some of her attendants in 1927.

QUEEN OF THE RAILWAYS: Mabel Kitson is pictured with some of her attendants in 1927.

First published in Worcester

A YEAR in the life of a teenage girl from Colwall, near Malvern, is being highlighted in a new display at one of the country’s leading rail museums.

Mabel Kitson, the daughter of Great Western Railway signalman Arthur Kitson, was just 15 when she was chosen to be the Railway Queen of Great Britain in 1927.

Now visitors to STEAM – the Museum of the Great Western Railway at Swindon – can follow this girl’s journey in her year as only the second-ever railway queen.

The displays show how Mabel won her title, the duties she undertook and how her life changed that year.

Among her duties was a trip to France with a delegation of railwaymen to meet their French counterparts.

This was at a time when few ordinary people travelled abroad. Elaine Arthurs, the museum’s collections officer, said: “We were inspired to create this exhibition following a donation to the museum from Mabel Kitson’s son Eric in 2012. The items donated are quite extensive and even include a gold watch which was presented to Mabel at the beginning of her reign. Even the receipt was included showing the cost of £3 and 15 shillings.”

Eric Davis, Mabel’s son, who lives in Rushwick, near Worcester, said: “I inherited all this stuff when my mother died and my first thought was to send it to the national railway museum at York, but I thought it might get a bit lost there.

“The museum at Swindon is especially for the Great Western and they were delighted when they saw what I had. Her father was the signalman at Colwall and my paternal grandfather was the signalman at the other end of the tunnel through the hills, at Malvern Wells, so you could say that I come from a railway family.”

The exhibition will be open every day until December 31.

For more information, visit steam-museum.org.uk or call 01793 466646.

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