Culture Magazine

Orphans and Engines

By Carolineld @carolineld
Orphans and enginesCharity 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.

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