YOU had to be versatile to be a railwayman, able to turn your hand to create anything – even artificial hands.

In the North Road Shops in Darlington there was even an Artificial Limb Shop which made replacement bits for railwaymen who had lost parts of their body in railway accidents.

In 2010, we told how Thomas I’Anson had started work in the limb shop during the First World War. Due to the aftermath of the conflict, there were quite a few artificial limb-makers employed there – certainly more than a handful – and we told how his daughter, Joyce Robson, still had some examples of his work.

This year the Head of Steam museum in Darlington is planning an exhibition about the limb shop and they would love to get in touch with Thomas’ family.

If you can put us back in touch, please email

The limb shop had closed by the Second World War, as advances in limb-making technology had made it a practice more scientific than mechanic, and Thomas, a real craftsman, had transferred to the leather shop, where he fashioned the leather straps for windows and the leather funnels through which a steam engine was filled with water.