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
I went for Thomas.
National Railway Museum (York)
Member Name: Fairypants
National Railway Museum (York)
Advantages: great shop, free entry
This is a fab way to spend a few hours, not least because it is free! It is situated right next to York train station, so is about a 5-10 minute walk from the city centre. It might help if you have a map, but it is easy to find. It lives on Leeman Road, and is open 10am til 6pm. You can head over the footbridge from the station, or even pick up the Road Train from right outside the Minster, which will drop you right outside the door.
The museum is organised into two main halls, the first for engines, the second for carriages. I am quite interested in trains, mainly because my great granddad worked on them, which means I find it interesting to see what he would have worked on.
Even if you have no real interest in trains, the Great hall with all its massive engines, is a breathtaking sight. They are absolutely huge, amazing feats of engineering. Tonnes of iron work, dwarfing all the visitors. You don't realise how big an engine is, as half is benath the station platform. They are certainly awe inspiring, and much more beautiful to look at than merseyrail...
The second hall with the carriages is very interesting for anyone who enjoys social history. You can see inside the carriages, all of which are perfectly preserved. You can see exactly how they would have travelled in the last century. Some of the Royal Carriages are there, first comissioned by Queen Victoria, and last seen in the 70's. Again, perfectly preseved. If you are lucky, you will even be let into a carriage and be allowed to sit on the seats, and explore the ensuite bathrooms!
You can also visit The Works, which is a fully working workshop, where they are currently restoring the flying scotsman piece by piece. You are on a viewing platform, and it certainly brings the exhibits alive, to see how they are looked after. From here you can then go through into the Warehouse, where they store all the railway related exhibits that they don't have room to display. Not all of the items here have interpretaion, as it is primarily a storage facility. It is certainly evocative though, and worth a peek.
You can also visit the Depot outside, and view engines. There are two cafes, a small cafe in the Great Hall, maily offering sandwiches and other snacks. The main cafe is situated in Station hall, with the carriages. This cafe is amazing, the food is absolutely beautiful, and all home cooked. I would certainly recommend holding out for this cafe, rather than filling up in the Great Hall!
As for shops, there is a separate Thomas The Tank Engine shop in the Great hall, which is great for any Thomas-obsessed kids! I however spent my money in the Gift shop between the two halls. There were plenty of things to choose from, including lots of pocket money friendly gifts, and postcards. Why not splash out £1 on a station master enamel badge?!
I would certainly visit again, especially as it is free. It's ideally located, with a great shop and amazing food. It's a great way to while away a few hours, especially if one or more of you are remotely interested in trains!
Summary: check it out, even if you think you wont enjoy it!
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