Image: Advertisement by the London Midland and Scottish Railway extolling the comfort of their sleeping compartmentsHolidays in Scotland by rail in the first half of the twentieth century illustrated by material from the O’Dell Transport Collection.

On the early death in 1966 of Andrew O’Dell, Professor of Geography in the University from 1951, his private collection of transport material came to the University Library. It is one of largest collections of its type in the country and covers extensively the economic, historical and geographical aspects, and to a lesser extent engineering aspects, of railways throughout Britain, with material also on Europe, on Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, America and elsewhere in the world.

Some of the highlights include: an unbroken run of Bradshaw’s Railway Manual (1858-1923); a full run of the Railway Magazine from 1897 onwards; plans and maps of Scottish railway routes which date from the 1850s to the 1900s; 128 scrapbook volumes compiled by Professor O’ Dell which contain much material of local interest (seven quarto and seven folio volumes concern the GNSR itself), as well as newspaper cuttings, magazine articles, pamphlets and ephemera relating to other British and foreign railways. A full description of the Collection by G. C. K. Smith was published in the Aberdeen University Review XLIII (1969-70, 33-38. Current and earlier publications, with emphasis on Scottish railways, are regularly added to the Collection.

The O’Dell Transport Collection is one of the four collections that are on open access in the Reading Room and in which readers are welcome to browse. The resource potential, especially for those interested in the North-east of Scotland, for geographers, economists and social historians is significant.

To see a selection of posters from the Collection, please see here.