Sunday, 8 January 2012

Orphans and engines

Charity collecting boxes need to attract the attention of potential donors. Some do so by their location, placed strategically next to a till for example; others have novelty shapes and bright colours; while a few offer some small piece of entertainment in return for your coin. The latter tactic is far older than you might expect. 

The Railway Servants' Orphanage in Derby placed models of Stephenson's Rocket on railway platforms in the 1880s. When a coin was inserted, the clockwork mechanism would spring into action and the engine would come to life. No doubt this was a very effective way of using 'pester power' to extract pennies from travel-worn parents! 

In 1930, you could have found one of these models at London St Pancras or Euston, or at 39 other locations throughout Britain. Although many were later converted to electricity, the example above still runs on clockwork. While its colleagues disappeared from their stations by the 1980s, this one continues its fundraising work, albeit at the National Railway Museum in York.


3 comments:

Hels said...

Very clever technique :) But also from the photo it looks like a nice model, carefully designed. Not a bit of rubbish.

CarolineLD said...

It really is a nice model - and the technique certainly worked on me!

Bernard said...

It certainly looks very well made from here. And...as a model maker, I am also amazed that it was so reliable.
(perhaps it was oiled and serviced when the money box was emptied.)
Talking of 'Money boxes', years ago on Slough Station (GWR) there was a dog who carried a collecting box on his back. I think he belonged to the station master. When the dog died his owner had him stuffed and put in a glass case on the platform. The last time I went through on a train, the 'departed dog' was still there.

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