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Having previously visited this museum on a school trip as an 8 year old my trip the 2nd time was no less enjoyable. 20 years later I returned with my wife and the size and array of the engines on display was no less impressive .It certainly was a nostalgic trip and one which I look forward to making again with my 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 speed steam engine The Flying Scotsman to the modern day high speed Bullet Trains from Japan. The museum has everything a train lover could wish for.
As well as the number of shiny engines which have been beautifully restored and maintained there is also a great selection of train memorabilia. There is a glimpse in to how the upper classes of society used to travel by train with some restored 1st class carriages. There is also engines on display to show how trains in this country have changes through the years.
What's even better about this museum is that it's free. I would strongly encourage people to leave a donation so that those at the museum can continue to grow and maintain this wonderful museum which celebrates all that is good and great about the Railways both in this country and abroad.
This museum is a must see for anyone with a passion for the railways and is highly recommended for any parents who have Thomas obsessed children (Like I was once upon a time!).
It's fun for all the family and is handily situated next to the Railway Station in York.
Living in York one of the places we visit often with our son is the National Railway Museum. My train mad 3 year old loves going and seeing the trains and the various changing exhibits over the year.
Where is it
Located in the centre of York the National Railway museum is easily accessible by public transport. A bus stop is near by and if you have travelled by train it is actually to the rear of York station and is a short walk across a concourse and over a road a walk in total from the station of about 5 minutes. If you are coming by car it is well signposted with brown signs and is on the inner ring road off Leeman road. The museum has its own car park which will cost £5 for the day. However if you are visiting on a weekend I would suggest using the train stations commuter car park which is next to the museum and cost £2.50 for the day. There is plenty of parking here and again is a 5 minute walk to the museum. However don't use this car park during the week when the fares make it much higher than the Museums own car park.
What's there and our experience
There are two main sections to the museum the Great Hall which is on one side of Leeman road and the South yard and Station Hall which is on the other. The two are linked by an under road path there are some steep steps here so you do have to be careful with young children. There are also lifts which makes it easy for pushchairs and the disabled to get between both sites. In the underground walk way there is also some lockers situated so you can store some small items. There are also about 6 large lockers that would fit a pushchair of a large suitcase if you so choose and are worth bearing in mind if you are checking in and out of hotels before a trip home by rail. The fees for these are quite small £1 for a small one and £2 for a large one.
The Great Hall
Included in the Great Hall is the turntable so you can watch at regular intervals the trains being moved around. The Mallard train and the Japanese Bullet train are also located in this section. Some of the trains you can only admire from the ground and feel dwarfed by their size but other you can go on walkways to see inside the engines or in the case of the Japanese Bullet sit in one of the carriages.
One of my son's favourite bits in this section is the model railway which is behind some Perspex screens. Several model trains on a 0 gauge go round this track that is laid out well, with trees, tunnels, animals, stations and everything a little boy would love to see on their own railway set. The railway is set out in a very child friendly way with ramps so that younger ones can watch the trains go round without having to be lifted up to see. My son has been able to see under aided since he was 2 years old.
There are several interactive sections in the great hall, inducing a section on mail/post going by rail here you can record a message to be relayed or post letters through slots to see how quickly they can go and do various other push button questions and watch some films. The letter posting is always a firm favourite with my son and other children so occasionally you may have to wait your turn.
Close to this there is the elevated section called The Works about the Flying Scotsman and some of aspects about railways. The elevated section is accessible either by stairs straight from the Great Hall or by a lift that is hidden in the warehouse section. From this elevated section you can look down into the works to see them working on restoring not only the Flying Scotsman both other projects to. Around the walkways are various displays telling you about the Flying Scotsman and some interactive displays to either build an engine or a touch screen telling you about various points in the history of the Scotsman. As you walk further around here there are other displays mainly regarding signalling and how they control trains on each section of the railway. The next highlight for my son is the viewing platform here where you can watch trains arriving and leaving York station. There is a handy timetable on the wall that updates regularly to let you know when the next trains are arriving so you can pop back in a few minutes if one is not due when you go. My son often loves watching these go back and forward and waving to passengers even though I am sure they can't see him.
The other area off the Great Hall we have discover recently is the Search Engine this is a library about all things train related, however it is worth noting for younger visitors that might want a bit of quite time that there are also children's books here to look at and my son and I had a quick read of some Peter's train books on our last visit.
South yard and Station Hall
The Station Hall has changed over this year prior to this it used to have a large exhibit of the royal trains and other private carriages for you to see. Since July this year that has changed and is still in the process of redevelopment. They are trying to re create a huge railway station atmosphere with lot of carts, luggage, freight carriages for you to see. I have to admit to having some mixed feelings about this as my son misses seeing the posh carriages close up as he used to and we would play games to see if we could see the mannequins move. The empty space still seems a bit vast and under used but as it is planned to be finished into 2012 it is still early days and a large section of the hall was corned off on our visit for the Santa experience so what will sit in that space I am unsure. What was nice though was the story telling here as it had a nice open space for all the children to sit and watch the story unfold.
The Station hall is also where the main restaurant and indoor picnic area is and this does take up a degree of space.
Situated next to it is the art gallery which is a new feature that will display changing exhibits of paintings and other art work inspired by the railways and if you are interested in this it is probably worth while checking the website for details of the current exhibit.
The South Yard as well as being where the adventure play ground is and the miniature railway has some outdoor seating for picnics and a signal box. It is also the place where if they are running short steam trip you can catch the train from. There is also a works shed which was closed the last time we visited but generally houses some more modern trains and carriages to look at.
Outdoor Miniature railway
At a cost of 50 pence a person for a ride this small miniature railway is popular place to visit with our son. Situated next to the outdoor children's play area with swings he is happy to be amused there with the various activities till we can have a turn on the train. Tickets are purchased from a machine that takes both coins and notes so you don't need to stock up change before a visit. The train trip is very short but goes past a small pond with fish and a tunnel made of willow so provide a little bit of interest to look at but for our son it is just often enough to sit close to the engine and watch it chug along the track.
The museum has regular events on especially for families during school holidays. During the weekdays and most weekends there are story time for the children and my son generally enjoys these as most are interactive getting the children to respond to things by shouting and waving flags for instance.
There are often some special events on through out the year most recently a Santa experience my son and I did last Saturday which my son enjoyed and we got a nice gift of a wooden connect four for him included in the price for him. Some of the events do cost so it is always worth checking the web-page for the museum for the individual details.
For the grown ups there are often talks scheduled during the day and regular announcements let you know when they are on. There is also the regular Railfest each year that includes often the change to go into more of the trains than normal and steam train journeys between York and the Shildon museum site.
Restaurant and picnic area
There is the main restaurant in the Station Hall this servers not only drinks but hot meals, sandwiches and snacks. Whilst it isn't cheap the food is very well cooked and presented and the few times we have eaten there as a treat we haven't been disappointed. They also serve child's potions and a children's snack box. The restaurant is self service which can at times seem to run a bit slow. The tables we find are always nice and clean and you can have tap water without any charge. There are plenty of highchairs to use and there is the facility to heat baby food if you need to.
The smaller signal box café in the Great Hall is mainly for drinks sandwiches and cakes. This again is well presented and does seem to be a bit better value for an afternoon treat rather than lunch.
There is an indoor picnic area in the Station Hall that has several large picnic benches for you to sit on these easily accommodate several adults and children. There is also some very handily situated bins near by for rubbish. These are ideal for families and something we use on most trips to the museum.
The museum is very family friendly with lots of activities for the children such as story telling, to events where they can make things. There are plenty of toilets situated though out the museum that have baby changing in them. The ladies toilets in the Station hall area also have some larger cubicles to allow you to take a pushchair in them which is very handy. The restaurants are also very family friendly with the inclusion of a good amount of highchairs. There are the usual pester power points of gifts shops by the entrance and a few Thomas rides that take 50 pence around the museum as well. The playground is a great way at times in the better weather we find to break up the looking at trains and for burning off some excess energy.
There does appear to be a good disabled access through out with very few of the exhibits being inaccessible to the disabled. Most areas have either lifts or ramps to get a wheelchair around them. There are also available larger print maps if you would like one. You can also have a wheelchair to use if you need one, there is no mention if you need to book these on the website but it maybe worth a ring to reserve one. There is also free disabled parking to the front of the museum.
The railway museum is a great tourist attraction in York with lots to see and do. We frequently attend throughout the year and my 3 year old never seems to get bored of visiting there. The family friendlessness of the museum makes a pleasant place to visit as a family and it is good cheap option for a day out.
Entrance fees and opening hours
The entrance to the museum is free however I have noticed that there is a bit more of a push to ask you to make a donation recently. However if you refuse politely as I have done the staff don't give you any horrid looks. The entrance to the museum I find a little annoying as they ask you to queue up and go to the till to say how many are in your party which when its free seems pointless bar them trying to get a donation from you or to encourage you to buy a programme. The queue at times can stretch outside and be a bit cold which again is a bit frustrating
It is open Daily 10.00 - 18.00 but Closed on the 24, 25, 26 December
National Railway Museum, Leeman Road,
York, YO26 4XJ
telephone: 08448 153139 (Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm)
fax: 01904 686228
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!
The National Railway Museum in York is a fantastic free, day out! Situated behind York Railway Station and clearly signposted it appeals to both younger children and those a little bit older! I have visited this week with my children (6 and 9 years old), their grandparents and my sister (30) and we all had a great day. Inside the engine shed's there is a turntable which is currently part of a display demonstrating how a roll on, roll off ferry works, many engines including a Japanese express train, Euro tunnel and more vintage models such as a replica model of Stevenson's Rocket and The Mallard. There a range of hands on exhibits and games, particularly outside in The Learning Platform. We watched a super free children's performance which explained in a range of practical ways how the railways use power to make them work. The enabler was entertaining for both adults and children and explained theories such as friction using practical demonstrations and help from the audience!
After this we had a ride outside on the replica rocket along the track, this was an additional cost of £1.00 for children and £1.50 for adults. It was an exciting and informative trip, bringing history to life. Younger children may enjoy a ride on the miniature train for a small additional cost.
We had our lunch on the platform cafe which was busy but food is good and varied but does come at a cost. There is a new range of child friendly food, a sandwich bag with 5 items including cheese, crisps, a drink, yoghurt and a sandwich costs £3.50. There are also picnic areas both inside and out where visitor's can take there own food.
There is usually a free activity inside, on this occassion my boys made a cardboard rocket using paper fasteners. Staff were very encouraging and child friendly.
A great day out!
I have to be honest, trains and railways are not my thing. Not even in the slightest. But, the other half had a train set when he was younger that he used to spend hours on with his dad, so he has considerably more interest in locomotives and the like than I do. When we were in York, he used the 'it reminds me of being young' sentimentality card spectacularly and it was for this reason (coupled with the fact that it was free to enter) that I found myself wandering over the threshold of the National Railway Museum.
The museum is located in the centre of York, next to the York Wheel and, funnily enough, the railway station. It's open from 10am until 6pm everyday except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Like I said, entry is absolutely free, although if you arrive by car, parking costs £7 per day.
So, back to my trepidation about visiting; I was very wary because I just didn't know anything about trains - the only time I use them is to get to and from the airport in other countries - what on earth was I going to find to interest me in here? As it turns out, lots.
As you go through the entrance, you go into what the call the Great Hall and it is very aptly named. It's basically just a huge warehouse full of trains - brilliantly coloured, gleaming engines and carriages of all sizes. This area is home to, what I am eagerly told, some of the most famous trains ever; Mallard, Duchess of Hamilton, the Japanese Bullet train and a replica of Stephenson's Rocket, amongst others. The hall is brilliantly laid out and it's easy to wander around the exhibits without failing to notice how much pride the curators clearly have in the maintenance of their charges. There are placards next to every exhibit where you can learn as much or as little as you like about the trains. The Great Hall is surprisingly interactive as well, you don't just look at the trains you walk through them, over them and, my particular favourite, under them (where you get a full view of what the engine looks like underneath).
Moving on from the Great Hall you go into the Warehouse, where you'll find more about the history of the train, both in this country and abroad. The centre piece is the Flying Scotsman, which provides an interesting look at one of the world's most famous trains (even I had heard of this one). Again the information is well presented and you don't get easily bored. There are also plenty of staff on hand to give you further information or demonstrations.
Next to the Warehouse is the Works, where you can see the engineers at work. Viewing platforms allow you to look over the latest conservation work that is being done on the Flying Scotsman or the work that is being done for the actual train tracks in the area.
Station Hall is next and it rivals the Great Hall in it's collection of carriages and engines, although these exhibits are from a bygone era. It's excellent fun to wander through the carriages of the Royal train to see how the other half lived. There are also early cars and other vehicles as well as an excellent collection of railway themed works of art. This is also where the restaurant is, so you can eat like they did in 'the olden days' over looking some of the greatest inventions of the past.
Finally, you can go outside to the South yard, where the focus is very much on the younger visitor. There's a train themed playground, a miniature steam train ride that runs all year round and a learning platform, where they can learn all about the way a train works and why we use them in a fun and interactive way. There's also a picnic area out here and you're free to bring your own packed lunches with you.
Other than the main exhibits, you'll find all the usual features of a museum here; a gift shop (selling all the usual souvenirs as well as a comprehensive selection of model trains), a restaurant and lockers (available for a small charge). There is also a very good library area, imaginatively called 'The Search Engine' where they have research books, children's railway themed books and often temporary exhibitions.
For anything I haven't covered here, there museum has a great website (www.nrm.org.uk) where you can find out all the information you need. You will also find details of any special events that the museum is holding here - these are particularly good in school holidays when they have plenty going on.
The museum has done a fantastic job of making what is, essentially, a specialised and often perceived as quite dull subject come alive with a combination of excellent displays, informative descriptions and plenty of eye-catching exhibits. The fact that entrance is free just compounds the idea that this is an excellent day out for all. As for me, I'm not quite a convert, but I am beginning to see what all the fuss is about!
This review is for the National Railway Museum in York, a museum which was opened in 1975 to maintain and display items of interest from Britain's railway heritage.
The museum is very accessible, next to York station, near to car parking and easy to find. The museum is free to enter as it is receives funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. It is open from 10am to 6pm, although these times may change and is open most days of the day, with just a couple of days of closure over Christmas.
There are several elements to the museum, which is sited on old railway yards and freight depots. These are interlinked over a road by a connection passage, and there is good accessibility for the disabled and those with limited mobility.
The largest of the halls is the Great Hall, which has around 25 trains displayed. The museum actually owns nearly 300 trains, but some of these are at display at its other site at Shildon in County Durham and some are lent to other institutions around the country. There is a large and original turntable in the Great Hall which is frequently displayed working, and many of the trains are lined up around this.
Inside the Great Hall are a range of different trains, and at the time of my visit these included a number of Royal Mail trains, the Mallard, a replica of Stephenson's rocket, a Japanese bullet train, an enormous Chinese freight train engine, a Eurotunnel train and a range of unrepaired trains from a variety of eras.
One of the other large display areas is Station Hall, where the collection of Royal Trains is held. There are a range of information posts which recognise your presence and start to give a commentary of what to look out for in these trains. The collection is fascinating and has trains used from Monarchs from Queen Victoria right through to the present Queen Elizabeth II.
Opened a few years ago is the Works, which is situated just off the Great Hall. Here there is a viewing balcony so that you can see the work which is being done, currently including work on the Flying Scotsman. You can see the volunteers and staff working on the vehicle, and see all of the various engineering items that they use, and see how the train has been disassembled ready to be rebuilt to the exacting standards required.
My favourite section of the museum however was the Warehouse, which is a brilliantly designed area which looks like it is just a mountain of items which the museum is storing. These items are however well secured and there are literally thousands of items to look at, from Stephenson's desk to a working model railway with signals used to teach signalmen over the decades, from railway signs to timetables and from railway display boards to cutlery. There is even the packaging of the last burger to be microwaved on one of the railway networks!
The scope of the museum is therefore huge, and it is has done well to appeal not just to railway addicts, but also to those who have only a casual interest in the history of the railways. There are lots of school visits, although the children on these are sometimes not overly interested and can be a bit of a disturbance to other visitors, but the range of information is wide enough to maintain the interest of all ages.
There are lots of hands on exhibits in the museum, allowing children to interact with many of the displays. There are the usual videos to watch, but there are also board games, interactive signals, signalmen's bells and much more to keep children interested. The museum is very large which also allows space for children to run about and explore so that they don't get too tired. Many of the trains can be boarded in part as well to aid in the hands on approach.
The staff are superb as well, and there are lots of them about to help with any questions. There are lots of demonstrations, and these are announced a few minutes before so that anyone interested can go and watch and listen. There was a range of staff ages, but all seemed enthusiastic about the museum and the exhibits, and they were all accessible and helpful.
The museum is somewhere you can spend many hours looking at everything and browsing at the exhibits. There are model railways, play areas, lots of toilets and the displays are often changed to keep the content in the museum fresh and interesting.
There are a number of choices for food, there is a restaurant in the Station Hall and a cafe in the Great Hall, which both serve food and drink at seemingly sensible prices. You can either opt for meals, or just buy sandwiches. Alternatively, you can take your own picnic, there is space in the building both inside and outside, so this might be a cheaper option, especially if you have kids.
Overall, this is a superb museum. It's very hard to fault it, as there is something for everyone who has even the slightest interest in trains. The only possible fault with the museum is that at busy times, it can be a little busy, but this is simply due to the excellent quality of the museum itself and the number of visitors who want to visit it. Definitely worth a look if you're in York, and if you are interested in trains, worth a visit to York to see it.
The National Railway Museum (often shortened to NRM) in York has been open to the public since 1975, and now has become one of the largest and richest collections of railway related material in the world. It has won many awards including the European Museum of the Year Award in 2001.
NRM is located in Leeman Road, next to York railway station. There are three main areas open to visitors: Great Hall, Station Hall and Outdoor Play Area. Historically the Great Hall was York's North Motive Power Depot (an engine shed) which originally had 4 locomotive turntables. Station Hall was the main goods (freight) transhipment station for York and the Works was the York Diesel Locomotive Depot until 1986. Today mainly in the Station Hall there are displays about the historical development of the railway industry and British locomotives. In the Great Hall there is a collection of locomotives from around the globe as well as other items related to worldwide railway history.
The NRM is huge and it has so much to see. An ordinary visitor could easily spend 4 hours there, and a railway enthusiast could use up more than a day. Although I'm not a train fan, I still felt excited by what I saw there. From my visit of NRM in October 2009 I have to say the British people do know how to display their history, and the UK still plays a very important role in the railway industry around the world.
When I write this article and look at pictures I took during my trip many fragments of memory flash through my mind like snapshots. So now I would like to share with you 10 of these snapshots.
Snapshot 1: Turntable show
There is a big turntable in the Great Hall. Every day at 11am two staff will work the turntable and explain to audiences how they change the direction of a locomotive. It was the first time ever in my life to see the procedure, and it was completely different from what I imagined. The show is short, but easy to understand, and you really have to see it to believe it is possible to turn around a locomotive.
Snapshot 2: Gladstone engine
It is displayed in a corner of the Great Hall, next to the turntable. I came across it by accident after watching the turntable show. When I read the information panel I realized this engine has a special meaning in history.
It was built at Brighton in 1882 and named after the then Prime Minister William Gladstone. It's the only surviving British front-coupled express passenger locomotive and is notable for being the first locomotive to be preserved by a railway society.
Snapshot 3: Ellerman Lines
How does a steam locomotive work? To many people it would be a very complicated question; however NRM made it easier for you to understand. They cut a cross-section, longitudinally through an engine named Ellerman Lines. Thus you can see into the three parts of the locomotive: i.e. tender, footplate and firebox. If you are patient enough and follow the introduction numbers bit by bit you will find out what does what. When I finally had worked my way from the tender to front end of the firebox I almost considered myself as a qualified engineer.
Snapshot 4: Cast Iron Footbridge
Historically over 50 cast iron footbridges were used to connect adjacent platforms of ordinary double track stations in the North Eastern Railway region, the first being built in 1891. Today several of the bridges are still in regular use. The bridge on display at NRM came from Percy Main station and is set amongst the engines in the Great Hall. When I walked up the steps I felt I was about to commence a journey, but I was so happy the feeling was more like I just came back home.
Snapshot 5: Chinese Locomotive
This giant locomotive is the largest in the National Collection. The engine was made in Britain and was used in China. Now it has sailed around half of the globe to be back in the country where it was built. I was delighted to be able to see a display from China, in particular when I read the Chinese writing inside the cab.
Snapshot 6: Japanese Bullet Train (as known as Shinkansen)
It is the only Japanese Bullet Train outside Japan and it represents one part of the world's fastest passenger rail network. It was donated to the museum in 2001 by the West Japan Railway Company. The fascinating thing is that you can climb aboard and sit down to watch TV footage about the use of these trains in Japan. At the time I felt I was on a trip going somewhere in Japan and the train was flying fast.
Snapshot 7: The Duke of Sutherland's Saloon
It was unusual to have a private saloon on a train in late 19thcentury. However as a main owner of London and North Western Railway, the Duke of Sutherland owned such a saloon. The carriage displayed in a corner of Station Hall was built at Wolverton for his personal use. One picture on the information panel shows the Duke of Sutherland and Edward VII. Coming from a different culture it's interesting to see how 'money could talk'.
Snapshot 8: Palaces on Wheels
This section occupies a large area of Station Hall. It displays Royal Carriages, which once belonged to Queen Victoria, Queen Mary, King Edward V and the present British Queen.
Walk along the red carpet and listen to voice explanations above your head whilst you view the comfortable and luxurious lives that such people lived as they travelled about the UK. When I saw these carriages, which were fully furnished with wardrobes, beds and full bathrooms I thought I was in a mini house instead of a railway museum.
Snapshot 9: Railway collecting dog Laddie
Between the end of 19th century and middle of the 20th century railway collecting dogs were familiar sights at large stations around the country. Laddie was one of these dogs and during his 7 years of work collected over £5000. The amazing thing was after he died in 1960 he was stuffed and returned to Wimbledon Station to continue his collecting career until 1990 when he became part of the NRM collection.
Snapshot 10: Workshop
The Workshop is located on the first floor of the Great Hall. Here you can search for almost any information connected with railways using their computers as well as their extensive library.
There is a very impressive exhibition at the entrance of the Workshop. It shows that since 1828 Britain has exported engineers, workmen, money, carriages, locomotives, wagons, signalling equipment and everything else you need to build and run a railway. So far Britain has laid enough rails to circle the globe twice. It has exported over 45000 locomotives and still earns millions from railway exports. I was surprised with what I read as I know these days that Japan and Germany are the leaders of railway development.
These 10 snapshots were the principal features I recall from my four hours stay there. I know there are still many things I did not see. I'm referring to activities such as: the Flying Scotsman display, taking a ride on the miniature railway in the Outdoor Play Area or a visit to The Works where an interactive gallery offers a live link to York station's electronic signal box and the chance to catch a glimpse of trains on the real railway. I left the museum telling myself I must visit NRM again one day.
Last but not least don't be surprised when I tell you NRM is FREE! The museum is open daily from 10am to 6pm (except Christmas day). You can also find a locker to store your personal items while you enjoy your visit. When you feel tired you can always find a seat to take a break on this spacious site. By the way there is a restaurant in the Station Hall and a café in the Great Hall too.
PS. Welcome to visit my blog for more pictures.
Visited here in June. It wasnt our first choice of place to go but had heard it was pretty good. I must admit we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. The layout is great, the trains are HUGE! and the mock ups etc are great fun. We particularly loved the Bullet train from Japan and especially loved the Royal Trains through the ages, that was by far our favourite part. We would of liked to of gone out in the train yard but there was a special thing on for enthusiasts so we didnt do that this time. The cafe and restaurants are ok but not fantastic although the prices are average, seating in the restaurant is however a novel layout.
The stotage part is fascinating to go through, its like an aladdins cave of railway history and paraphenalia and the playform 9 and 3/4 sign is hung over here.
There is a big wheel situated at the side of the museum which is a seperate cost, we didnt do this but it did look fun.
The shop is big with a nice array of railwayana and train inspired goods including of course Thomas The Tank Engine items.
One thing to remember as well is most is indoors and its totally free to go in.
THIS REVIEW WAS POSTED PREVIOUSLY ON QYPE BY MYSELF UNDER THE NAME SUNLINESAM
The National Railway Museum is a firm family favourite in our house. Even if your not passionate about trains like my husband is the NRM has plenty to offer to keep the kids occupied. We began our visit with a walk round the main exhibition area where trains such as Mallard, Evening Star and the Japanese Bullet Train take pride of place. We stood under one of the concrete segments from the Channel Tunnel and took a look at a cutaway Eurostar cab.
We took a picnic lunch - which you can eat indoors or out - but I noticed there is a small cafe in the main hall and a larger restaurant farther into the exhibition if picnics aren't your thing.
The NRM has an excellent children's learning area where kids can move a signal with levers, discover the effects of friction and find out what wheel tapping is. Experiments help kids work out which wheels work best on a curved track and the effects of streamlining with the wind tunnel. There is also a soft rumpus area so younger children can let off some steam of their own.
On to the great outdoors where there is a minature railway, lovely picnic areas and more engines, diesels this time. Finally a quick look round the gift shop for a souvenir or two before catching the train home.
I only planned to spend the morning at the NRM but we ended up taking the whole day to look around because there is so much to see and do. An outstanding day out and very economical, admission to the museum is FREE. It was easy to find, the museum is near to the railway station. Most of the museum is under cover so it doesn't matter if it rains. The staff are very friendly and there are lockers in the entrance to leave coats and bags so we could walk around unhampered.
Daily 10.00 - 18.00
Closed 24, 25, 26 December
Admission is FREE for all visitors except for certain special events when charges may apply.
The National Railway Museum in York first opened its doors to the public in 1975 and although I was too young to remember, around five or six years old at the time, I think that I was quite possibly one of the first visitors to see this attraction. I do vaguely recall visiting here all of those years ago but my memory is very sketchy. I remember that my grandparents had saved up tokens from Kellogg's cereal packages that entitled us to free rail travel tickets and with this offer they took myself and my brother not only on a train for the very first time, but also to see lots of other trains too at the Railway Museum. I am sure that we must have done lots of other things whilst we were in York, but as I say it was over thirty years ago and I do not remember.
Last week I returned to the National Railway Museum for a second time. I would love to tell you how it has it has changed over the years but alas I cannot, so instead I will just tell you about how it is today, as per my recent visit of Wednesday 2nd April 2008.
If I was a train enthusiast then there is no doubt that I would have been in seventh heaven here, but I am not. My main reasons for visiting here was firstly because it is free and since it was during the school holidays we had promised to take the foster kids somewhere, so in many ways my visit to the National Railway Museum in York was a treat for the kids. It actually turned out to be great day out for us all.
This museum houses over a hundred different locomotives of national and international importance. In addition to this there is also a vast collection of other rail related memorabilia. To give you some idea of the size of this place it covers an area of 20 acres. I always remember from school being told that an acre was the approximate size of a standard football pitch so try and imagine twenty football pitches and that's about the size of this place.
The success of the National Rail Museum has been phenomenal and today it attracts around 750,000 visitors every year, more than any other British museum outside London. The museum is housed within the former power depot building of the main East Coast main Line directly adjacent to York's central train station.
At any one time this museum holds around a hundred locomotives out of the two hundred and eighty that form the National Collection. These other engines are hired out to other heritage museums throughout Britain but since most of these arrangements are usually for only a few weeks or months at a time this means that the locomotives on display at York is constantly changing. There are however a number of engines and carriages here that are on permanent display at York and these tend to include the most important items.
My knowledge of trains is not particularly good but I do know a little about Stephenson's Rocket, built in 1829 by Robert Stephenson. Until my recent visit however I actually believed that this was the world's first steam locomotive. In fact this was actually only the first commercially viable engine and the first steam driven locomotives had been built by Robert Trevithick as early as 1804. The earliest example of one of Trevithick's models that can be found at York dates from around 1815.
The Mallard is another train that I remember from my history lessons. Built in Doncaster in 1938 this is still the world record holder for the fastest steam train when it reached a speed of 126mph on the 3rd July 1938. The other world famous steam locomotive that can be found at York is The Flying Scotsman, built in 1823. This design revolutionised steam locomotives and such is its importance that it has a whole display and exhibition dedicated to it entitled "The Flying Scotsman Story".
Not everything here is steam driven nor indeed particularly old. There are some modern replicas of old steam locomotives including that of the Iron Duke but the steam driven locomotives only form a small part of the collection and there are many more examples of electric driven engines.
Amongst the newer trains is a Japanese Bullet Train, donated to the museum in 2001 by the West Japan Railway Company. This is one of the few trains in the museum that you can actually climb onto. Once aboard you can sit down and whilst seated watch TV footage of some of these trains in use in their homeland along with a short documentary about their design. This is the only example of a Bullet Train outside Japan and it was its arrival at the museum that helped the National Railway Museum to win the coveted European Museum of the Year award in 2001.
I found the Japanese Bullet Train fascinating, and a far cry from even the most modern trains that we find in Britain today. My favourite part of the museum however was the Royal Carriages. This section is entitled "Palaces on Wheels" and features carriages that once belonged to Queen Victoria, Queen Mary, King Edward V and even our present Queen. It is notable that the carriage on display that belonged to our present Queen, which was last used in 1977 is far less grand than many of its Royal predecessors.
Each of the Royal Carriages are displayed in area that has a red carpet that you walk on between the carriages and this certainly helps to add to the ambience. All of the carriages are fully furnished, many with their original artefacts which include wardrobes, beds and full bathrooms with baths. Whilst it is not possible to go inside these carriages there is an elevated viewing platform that allows visitors to obtain a good view inside.
The National Rail Museum is huge and it is certainly the sort of place that you need to spend around half a day in to see everything and fully appreciate it. The majority of the engines are displayed in two different areas. One of these is called the Great Hall and after looking around this I foolishly thought that I had more or less seen everything. I then discovered that there is another equally large area called The Works as well as further area with more modern 1970-1990's trains in sheds outside and even more trains in The Station Hall.
Outside there is a mini railway which looked great for the kids but the queues were so long that we decided to give this a miss. Facilities indoors include a restaurant, a cafe and a large shop. As I didn't use any of these I cannot comment on their prices or quality. There are also several toilet area, each of which are fully equipped for disabled visitors and have baby changing facilities. Upstairs there is a large archives section and library that is free to use but due to time restrictions we did not visit this either.
Overall I thought that this museum made for a great day out and I am surprised that it is completely free. I have certainly paid good money to enter attractions that are not a patch on this one.
The museum is open daily from 10am until 6pm.
National Railway Museum
Telephone: 08448 153139
Fax: 0870 421 4011
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.
I was in York recently, on business and knew I would be finished before dinnertime, so I took my wife and she did a bit of shopping before we met up at 11am. Now as we where in York we?d decided that we?d visit the National Railway Museum as I don?t get to York very much. The National Railway Museum is home to the history of trains in Britain and is within easy reach of the M1 and M62 and once in York is fairly easy to get too. Once there the best part of the National Railway Museum is that admission is free but parking is £4.50 per vehicle. As we went during the teachers annual six week summer sabbatical (Summer Holidays) the place was pretty busy, but due to the size of the place you don?t really notice. The only place that was really crowded was the gift shop but I?d say this was more to do with it being part of the main entrance than people buying things. The museum is split into two huge halls, the Great Hall housing the majority of the engines, the Station hall being home to the older engines, their carriages and the royal trains. Lets start with the Great hall as this was the area that most interested me due to the large number of engines on show. Now I?m not going to go into massive technical details about each engine as I?m not sure what all the numbers mean and I?m not a massive fan of Trains its just the engineering aspects which excites me. Depending on through which entrance you enter the Great Hall, will depend on what you will first see. If you enter from the car park as we did, then you will see the Locomotive turntable directly in front of you and the most amazing set of gates I have ever seen, which where apparently the original gates from Euston Station. If you walk around the Great Hall you will see a great many locomotives, and perhaps the most famous of these is the Mallard. This engine broke the train speed record in 1938 at a speed of 126mph (202kph) and as far I have be
en able to find out this record still stands. It?s amazing that a steam train from 1938 is still faster than most UK trains of today! Next to the Mallard is a new exhibition which is the Shinkansen, Bullet Train from Japan. This is a 1976 Bullet train given to the National Museum by the Japanese Railways West division and is a look at the future of railways from the past of a more forward looking railway company. The inside of the Shinkansen has been split into two halves and at each end of the carriage are large video screens showing a presentation about the Shinkansen, how it came to be, the rail system and the trains. There are also models of the newer Shikansen?s in a large glass case outside. Museum staff also give talks about the Shinkansen at periods throughout the day. Announcements for these are made over the Museums Tannoy system. All around the great hall there are many great engines however I?m not going to give you a big list as if you?re going to visit you?ll find that out for yourself or look at the NRM website, link below. As well as the engines in the great hall there are also demonstrations throughout the day, these are at the engine turntable and the stationary engines of which there are two, both very different. There are also a variety of smaller exhibits throughout the hall and they range from one of the engines having been cut open so you can see the insides, and another engine which you can walk underneath. At the bottom of the hall there is a postal train exhibition which goes from the very first postal trains to the latest trains. This takes us to the next room we visited which is The Warehouse. This room was just amazing and is full of railway paraphernalia which the museum has no permanent plans to display but still wants the public to see. The amount of property in this room is quite amazing, there is everything from model trains, through to station badges, sign posts, carriage interiors
, etc , etc?. There is loads of stuff, all labeled. Next, on to another area called the works. Where you can watch the staff at the museum fixing, painting and bringing old engines back to life. There is also a show here where you can watch how the trains would have been made in the 1900 ? 1960?s. It last about 15 minutes and is well worth watching to give you a view of what the original builders went through to make the engines. This leads you onto the working railway exhibit, which informs about how a railway works. The most important part of this informs about how signaling works. There is also lots of information about railway time tabling. At the end of The Works is the railway observation which overlooks York railway station and if you stand here long enough you might see one of those modern trains. On to the Station hall now and this is where the showy trains preside. Here you will find all of the royal trains which are owned by the NRM as well as lots of carriages, some of which are in superb condition, you can look inside as there are steps and platforms at the side. The other areas at the NRM are the restaurant which is in the middle of the Station Hall, the buffet in the Great Hall, the children?s play area and learning zone which are outside of the Station Hall and the Gift shop as you enter the Station Hall. In there Great Hall there is the model railway exhibition and the Balcony galleries which are both quite interesting. There is a massive amount of stuff to do here, and I honestly think that one day would not be enough if you stopped and read all the information and took pictures of every thing. We arrived at 11am-ish and left just before 6pm and still didn?t see everything in as much detail as I would have liked but that can wait for another day. My overall impression of the National Railway Museum is WOW! This place is amazing, there is so many things to see and do, and touch and feel, It?s
a pity yo u don?t get the smell as well but Health and Safety might have something to say about that! I will be going again, I don?t know when but I hope it?s not as long as the gap last time. I first went when I was still at Primary school and that was before 1982! © Mike Porter, Copyright 1999 ? 2003
First of all I would like to say that I am not a ‘museum person’. However on a recent trip to York with two children it seemed that our visit wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the National Railway Museum. The museum is easy to find, being located alongside York’s main railway station. The place is huge and is housed on two sites on either side of the road, which are accessible via an underpass (solely for the museum’s use). On entering you come to The Great Hall which is home to over 100 trains/engines. These range from the Mallard to a Japanese bullet train. I basically knew very little about trains/railways before visiting but there is a great deal of information in all kinds of formats and plenty of staff on hand to answer any questions. The Great Hall is also home to an area called Play Train. This is an activity centre for children where they can make hats, flags etc, naturally all relating to trains. More complex activities such as badge making were priced at 50p. This area was excellent and seemed to appeal to children of all ages, my only suggestion for improvement would have been seats nearby for the weary parents! After crossing the underpass you reach the Station Hall where the emphasis is on the interior of trains throughout history. This included a replica of the Royal Train and examples of first second and third class carriages from the early 1900’s. From The Station Hall you then came to the outside attractions. Here there were a number of things, which would have kept us entertained if the weather had been better. There is an old fashioned fair ground (at an extra charge per ride), picnic area, children’s play area and steam train rides which left every hour (no charge). There was also an excellent area hidden around the corner – Interactive Learning Zone. From the outside this looks like an old-fashioned railway station, but inside it is full of activi
ties for kids and adults alike. There were lots of ‘hands-on’ demonstrations such as working the signals, brass rubbing of train plates etc. My daughter was particularly interested in a computer program where you built your own railway, making lots of decisions along the way and seeing if the outcome was profitable (it was in her case!). For anyone visiting be warned that although there is a snack bar and small restaurant prices tend towards the exorbitant – a small sultana scone was priced at £1.80! In spite of this the restaurant appeared to get filled up very quickly and on leaving The Station Hall about 1.30pm we noticed that they were not letting anyone else in. However there is no problem with eating a packed lunch here and picnic areas are provided both inside and out. The National railway Museum is open most days from 10.00 till 18.00. Admission is £7.50 for adults and free for children and those over 60. The car park also charges £3 but this allows parking all day (a pretty good deal in York!) Overall we all had a good time and stayed for about 3 hours. My son’s only disappointment in the place was that there was no Thomas the Tank Engine. I later found out that they have special ‘Thomas’ exhibitions but only once or twice a year, oh well I guess we’ll just have to go back for that!