6:00 pm 26 May 2023 RAF Club Piccadilly

Railway heraldry is an absolute mess. Almost all railway heraldry conforms to the rule of being borrowed, bogus, or the product of outright theft. Indeed, Scotland’s major railway company even had the temerity to steal the Royal arms of the Kings of Scots, a heraldic version of a Great Train Robbery.

Much of railway armory amounts to heraldry we really don’t deserve – systems of identity that are really badges, totems, insignia, emblems, motifs or devices, rather than coats of arms. How did this come about will be a theme of the lecture, with the suggestion that in Victorian times, when it came to matters of the heraldic iron horse, successive Kings of Arms of both England and Scotland missed their trains. Or maybe clouds of steam enveloped them. Whatever else, ghastly practices developed under their armorial noses from Queen Victoria right into our own time.

Our speaker is journalist and heraldist Gordon Casely.

Gordon says that heraldry and railways have been entwined throughout his life. He was born far too many years ago beside an LNER line, and thanks to being a lifetime cyclist, he’s travelled on railways from Dundee to Dunedin, and from Hong Kong to Hereford.

In 1977, Gordon was a founder member of the Heraldry Society of Scotland. He writes and lectures on heraldry, and is a strong advocate for the promotion of modern 21st century heraldry.

He has directed the gaining of coats-of-arms for a peer, three knights, a bank, Scotland’s largest company, far many individuals, eight community councils, and three heritage societies.

In 2002 he produced the exhibition Royal Heraldry at Balmoral as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.  Four years later, he produced another exhibition, this time in St Andrews, visited by the Princess Royal.

He holds the honorary position of personal herald to the chief of clan Irvine, and is the editor of a book on heraldry entitled “Who Do You Think You Are?”.

Gordon’s single-minded involvement with Scottish culture and identity ensures that heraldry, genealogy and tartan – and books, banners and bagpipes – clutter his life and his business.

He wonders if he might be able to get pills from the doctor for this?