Newest Review: ... nephew and children of my own. The range of engines that is on display at the National Rail Museum is fantastic. From the iconic, high spe... more
Trains, Trains and More TRains!
National Railway Museum (York)
Member Name: willtheman
National Railway Museum (York)
Advantages: Free, Fascianting, Trains, Rides, Excellent talks and deomsntartions, Full day out
Disadvantages: Parking Charges
I love trains. I just love them. Now before you ask I'm not a train buff. I don't drive a 100 miles to a station just because a CLASSD543986 is passing through. I don't make sure I see a Simpson's recovery engine Class 3593 before I die. I don't make sur I get to photograph a diesel Class G6754 just to prove I saw one. I just like trains. Nothing more to it. The reason I like trains is probabaly because I absolutely loved Thomas when I was a kid( seen the Movie , got the toys.)
And I just like steam.
Now I have been to many heritage railways but never to the NRM. I always promised myself I would go every year-but the chance never came arund. But then it came-and I jumped on it and I finally got to visit the National Railway Museum. You can just imagine the smile on my face....
Anyway back to the museum.
It is of course in York. Which is in Yorkshire-slightly North East of Leeds and a bit away from where I live-Sheffiled a couple of hours drive although you could just get the train.
It thankfully is well signed from all aproaches to the city. To get to Leeds just follow the M1 from London or the M60 somthing from Manchester. Then follow the signs to York .
I you come by train then its a 5 minute walk from the station and is signposted.
From the city centre it is once again signposted. They also run road trains to the museum from Duncombe Place( next to the Minster) for no extra charge.
The car park is next to the museum and costs £7.00 a day which in York isn't too bad-its also manned by very helpful people.
You enter into the Great Hall past a small kiosk where you ca buy a guide book for a couple of quid. As you may already know entrance into the museum is free.
The Great Hall is one of three ABSOLUTELY HUGE galleries in the museum. The Great Hall did in fatc used to be a locomotive works -so its had trains in its blood all its life. First all of you pass the huge and ornate Euston Station Gates-I can't imagine walking through those-they are just too beautiful.
The main and probably most famous thing in here-is the turntable-it has always been a truntable(there is the outline of another one underneath the Mallad). Around here is a cracking collection of locomotives-diesel which includes Intercity and freight trains, electric and lots os steam which includes Gladstone which I presume was the then Prime Minsiters train and many others. Perhaps the most impressived is the Chinese locomotive-it is absolutely massive and if you stand beside it you barely reach the wheel! In one of the engines you can walk underneath it and in another they have sliced it in half allowing you to see the mechanisms inside and discover just how a train works which is absolutely fascinaitng.
Now they also do turntable demonstrations. During these they operate the turntable with an engine on as well as give a little talk about it. The turntable they have is electric (cheats) but in the olden days you had to push this few tons of weight by hand-which apparently if you get it in the right position you cand do quite easily.
At the back are some narrow guage engine including the dlightfully named Wren and a Dounble Fairlie(an engine with two ends.) Also there is a small exhibtion on how trains came about whic is very interseting.
Perhaps the most famous exhibit is the Mallard-the train which still holds the record speed for a steam train (although apparently steam trains in America probably smashed the speed but didn't tell anybody as it was illegal then.) The Mallrd is certianly impressive and you can look inside the coach which recorded the speed
Next is the Rocket-a replica but still over 70 years old (the original one is in the Science Museum at London).
The Bullet Train (Shinkanshan) is impressive-sleek, white and with an impressivbe nose-you can actually sit inside it on lovely comfy seats and watch a video all about this train or just rest. Its scary to think this was amde just a few years afterf the last steam train had been made in Britain. As well as that this train came all the way from Japan-the journey to the Museum bacame a television documentary!
Cross over the rather delightful and well placed Railway bridge into an exhibtion about mail on trains.
For some reason the little waggon which the carried all the mail. Maybe because it was packed to the brim with letters or maybe becuae it looked so small and carried so much. I don't know why.
After passing some more trains we know enter the Works.
The very first area is the Flying Scotsman Story-an interseting exhibtions on the Flying Scotsman-here history, who made her, why she is special-oh and all about the trtain not the engine-it used to run between London and Edingburgh.
After thats is the Warehouse- described as a Alladin's Cave this is juts home to masses and masses of railway memrobila-hats, coins, tcikets, cups, the bage used by the great train robbers-all labelled this makes this area absolutely fascinating . It is just well-undescriable.
After that take a ride on this 'cliff' railway it takes up to a platform giving excellent views over the Great Hall. As well as that its used for disbaled people.
Now you are now a platfrom and are looking down into the real Works where brillaint/mad volunteers are re-vmaping engines-cleaning , changing the insisdes. Currently here is the Flying Scotsman-who was only half here when we saw him and the impressive Green Arrow. Up on the top level is an exhibit on the working conditions of people who once worked here (remember it was once a locmotive works) as well as bits on rail safety-signalling all that stuff with some nice intercative displays to boot.
There's also a platform to watch trains going past on the mainline-none came past when I was there (terrible service.)
Now ist time to go under the subway to Station Hall.
Its smaller than the Great Hall but if you had to ask me it is just as good.
The mian thing here is the Royal Trains. It was in fact Queen Victoria who started the trend of going on railways. Her saloon is hre-magnificently restored by volunteers-it is really a palace on wheels-large with amazing furniture-blue sofas, desks for writing, ronate lams- everything in here is the best-and so it had to be. Also there is a waxwork of Victoria-looking miserbale.
After that there is also Queen Alexandria and King Edwward's saloon before you come the War Years one-horrible-sarcthy setas, hideous decor-yuck.
At the front is the impressive train-with its four headlamps-the only train allowed to have that number with Union Jacks draped of it.
After that check out freight which includes a rather strange cart which to me looks abit like a fire engine , an impressive crane and lots and lots of waggons-inclduing one which carried bananas. Apparently the workers sometimes has surprises inside-tarantulas which would pick me of the job quickly.
There's also an area on how trains were used for holidaying -old posters and an overnight carriage with cramped and uncomfortable bunk beds.
There's also two trains where you can step on the footplate and look at all the deadly complicated controls and the coal chute.
Now ist time to gpo outside and to the diesel depot -aa rather marquee like building home to lots of diesels which all have something special about them.
The minatuire train is delightfuly-its costs a pund but we managed to get on free due to the machine being broken -(yaya!) and enjoyed it. It was only very short-a 5 minute journey if that but it goes through a nice garden made to look like Britain in mainature-with a pond, grassland, heather, streams-oh delightful. Plus you can walk through it.
Behind are some sidings with some more visible waggons and an old drinking fountain. On here trains sometimes run a short way-but they weren'r unning on the day we went so I can't really comment on this.
After that pay a visit to the Interatcive Learning Centre-lots of hands on fun. Here kids can operate signals, use a track to disocver which wheels work the best on curves, use a hammer to listen to the different noises on wheel, make there own model railway and station from building blocks and see a real Stepney-cracking good fun and an excellent place to take children.
As well as this the Yorskshire Wheel is right next door- a minature London Eye which apprenly offers stunning views over the city but unfortunately I never got the chance to go on it. The pods hold up to 8 people -it takes 13 mintes and you go around 3 times. It is open daily from 10.00am-6pm (last ticket sales are at 5.30pm)
It costs £6 per adult and £3 per child.
The Museums opening hours are:
Open dailway 10am-6pm closed 24th-26th December.
As I said before admission is free.
The gift shop is quite small for its size but don't let that put you foff there was plenty of things in here with many DvD's, books, T-shirts, pottery, Thomas The Tank Engine and Ivor the engine stock and toys fro fairly reasonable prices.
The main restauraunt is in Sattion Hall-its expensive but did look very nice to be fair.
Outside and in the subway are burger and coffe bars which sell a few light snacks for reasonable enough prices. The Station Cafe in the Great Hall sells light snacks a couple of hot meals. I fyouv'e bought your own food then you cane eat it in the picnic area in the childrens play area or if it is wet in the indoor picnic area in Station Hall where Thomas videos are on a loop.
There are plenty of toilets all of which are very celan.
There are events reguarly which are moslty free- this year in the Summer there is athatre production of the Railway Children. £15 adult, £10 child.
Between the 21st March and 6th April there is a Chinese Festival-mask making etc. etc.
Between 24th May and 1st June there is an event called 1968 and all That-the year steam was removed-with footplate experiences , real ale and BBQ. There is a charge for this event.
Day out With Thomas run once a year-the next one is in Feb 2009 . During these there are rides on Thomas, face painting and other activities(there is a review on ths event on page 1). Admission is £10 per adult and £5 per child.
Each Saturday and Sunday there are performances from Platform 4 theatre free of charge.
There are daily demonstarations.
10.30 Shinkansen talk (opposite Mallard in the Great Hall) - a short introduction to the Bullet train - the only one outside of Japan.
11.00 Winding engine demonstration - first the vertical Weatherhill Engine near the car park entrance is demonstrated for about ten minutes, and then the horizontal Swannington Engine in the far corner behind the turntable is switched on at ten minutes past the hour. (These demonstrations are subject to the mechanical well-being of the engines.)
11.30 Turntable talk and demonstration (at the turntable in the Great Hall) - a short talk describing the turntable and its uses, concluding with a full turn of the table.
12.00 - 12.30 Evening Star footplate access (track 6 off the turntable in the Great Hall) - come on board this 101 year old engine and chat to the Explainers about the history of the engine and how it works.
14.25 Shinkansen talk - as above
15.00 Winding engine demonstration - as above
15.30 Turntable talk and demonstration - as above
16.10 How a Steam Engine Works (either at Ellerman Lines or Rocket in the Great Hall) - an introductory talk about the mysteries of a steam engine demonstrated on one of our sectioned locomotives.
16.40 - 17.30 Mallard footplate access (Great Hall) - come aboard the fastest steam locomotive in the world to find out about the record-breaking run and how it went so fast.
The Works and Warehouse
11.00 Workshop roundup (on the Works balcony) - an introduction to the Museum workshops and the restoration currently being undertaken by the workshop staff.
12.00 - 12.20 and 14.25 - 14.45 Warehouse Tour (starts from the ground floor entrance to the Warehouse) - discover more about some of the interesting objects in the Warehouse. With ten thousand items to choose from, you'll find something to interest you!
11.30 - 12.00 Black Five footplate access (in Station Hall at the head of the Royals exhibition) - visit the footplate of one of the most prolific classes of steam engines in Britain and find out what made them so successful.
12.35 - 13.05 Station Hall Tour (starts from the Information Point in Station Hall) - a short tour taking in some of the highlights of Station Hall.
15.00 - 15.30 Black Five footplate access - as above
16.50 - 17.30 Station Hall carriage access - an Explainer will open up one of our historic carriages and chat about its history
Oustide there is a play area for chilren with slides, swings and things like that.
There are other events ( free of charge throughout the year)
Please see the website:
www.nrm.org.uk for more details.
They now have a archive area called' Search Engine' which I have yet to visit.
Address: National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ,Uk
Telephone: 08448 153139
Fax0870 421 4011
The musum is fully disabled access.
They now have a new museum called Locmotion in the North East which I am yet to visit. That too is free.
The verdict is fantastic.
Its free is probably the main thing I like about here. Although it may be the huge collections of magnificent trains gleaming in the spotlight with fascianting stroies unravlled about them, excellent interpretation boards and hands on displays giving you the opportunity to learn more.
Or is it because of the friendly staff who take time out to painstaikingly restore these engines to their glory?
Or is the fascianting dailt talks and demosntrations of which there are so many which are so interesting and os varied.
Or is it because of the excellent facilities and the working steam?
No. Its all of them. If you had to ask me NRM is one of the best days out Iv'e had in a long wheile-ever-and yes it certainly is a day out -we spent 5 hours there.
It really is absolutely magnificent and I definitely will be going to this magnifecnt musuem again and again.
Summary: A splendid day out
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