(c) Mike Rogers

LTAN was formed in 2020 as an informal network for archivists, curators, custodians and researchers, interested in the care and use of archives relating to any aspect of any form of land transport: including vehicles, operators, personnel, passengers, manufacturers, freight and infrastructure

Here are our draft Terms of Reference which set out the aims of the Network


An initial virtual meeting was held on 24 August 2020 to discuss the feasibility of an Initiative relating to the Archives of land-based transport. The first draft of this document was drawn up, based on the initial discussions, and on the published aims of the Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative, to act as a basis for formulating the scope of the activities and aspirations of such a group. At a subsequent virtual meeting on 25 November 2020 the name Land Transport Archives Network was adopted and some changes to this document suggested. For the time being there will be no formal organisational structure for the network, though it is recognised that a Constitution and elected Officers will be required if external project funding is to be pursued in the future.

1, Definition

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Transport as:

The action of carrying or conveying a thing or person from one place to another; conveyance


A means of transportation or conveyance; originally a vessel employed in transporting soldiers, military stores, or convicts; later, the horses, wagons, etc. employed in transporting the ammunition and supplies of an army; sometimes including the things so conveyed.

A suggested definition for the purposes of our group would encompass archives relating to the design, manufacture and operation of land-based vehicles (whether on rail, road or off-road, whatever their form of propulsion, and regardless of whether they have wheels) as well as the associated infrastructure and people associated with these forms of transport for work or leisure purposes.

2. The need and potential

  • The historical importance of land transport industries to the UK and globally (e.g. the invention of the railway and its role in the Industrial Revolution; the Midlands car industry). The continued importance of transport industries to the UK’s manufacturing and R&D base. Current research in this area.
  • The importance of this area for the heritage industry.  There are many road and rail museums, and related sections/displays within science/technology/transport museums, preservation societies, owners’ clubs, and a few archives dedicated to aspects of land transport.
  • The impact of road and rail infrastructure and forms of transport on society and the environment.
  • Contemporary businesses are often not mindful of archives.
  • Managing and promoting archives can often come second to managing and promoting artefacts within museums and other heritage organisations.
  • There are a good number of potential holders of archives outside established major centres, e.g. provincial and local museums, heritage lines, societies and enthusiast groups and individuals, people who worked in the industry.
  • There is a large group of potential archive users due to the number of road and rail historians and enthusiasts.

3. Project aims

  • To create a mutual support network for the creators, custodians and users of archives related to land transport.
  • To create a website on which to house resources.
  • To create a directory of contacts to help locate relevant people, organisations and skills, when seeking advice.
  • To advise on good record-keeping practice appropriate to the audience (e.g. business, amateur-led society, individual, museum) with a view to ensuring archive preservation into the future.
  • To create a forum in which to raise and answer questions, explore ideas, share experiences, and promote resources.
  • To map existing archive documentation of land transport research, development, manufacturing and operation in the UK, to help make collections accessible. (NB This is a huge sector and it may be best to take a phased approach). Surveys, in the experience of the Business Archives Council, promote archive preservation by making the owners of the archives more aware of their historical significance and value and encourage research use by bona fide historians.
  • To highlight and publicise resources available for research, possibly through an online ‘Guide’.
  • To identify significant gaps in existing documentation and develop approaches to fill them.
  • To help identify suitable repositories for archives when required.
  • To identify archives at risk and provide appropriate support and advice.
  • To identify and promote sources of funding for archives.
  • To create new partnerships and strengthen existing ones.
  • To promote and champion to other heritage organisations, the importance of archives.

4. Results

  • Enhanced knowledge of the archival record of land transport and the heritage of individual players in the sector.
  • Better record-keeping  – both preservation and documentation – in present and future
  • Identification of archives at risk and provision of relevant support to owners.
  • Develop an awareness of the importance and potential value of their archives and heritage amongst leading UK businesses.
  • Open up research possibilities by signposting related archives in private ownership and in the care of national, county, university, specialist, community and other archives.
  • Create opportunities for academic partnerships for future sectorial engagement.

5. Potential partners

  • Established Archives, holding relevant collections or items.
  • Established transport and science and technology focused museums.
  • Land transport focused societies and heritage bodies, such as vehicle clubs, heritage railways and enthusiast groups.
  • Manufacturing and operating companies.
  • Individual enthusiasts and collectors.
  • Researchers and publishers.
Courtesy of The Bus Archive

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