Since 1975, York Railway Museum has housed the finest collection of locomotive history in the world. It forms part of the British Science Museum Group and has an array of awards in it’s collection.
Situated right next to York Railway Station and the main bus stops, it is very easy to get to and has attractions that will cater for all ages.
There are 100 different locomotives on display with another 300 examples of rolling stock. All the locomotives saw active service in the United Kingdom or were constructed in the country. It’s actually interesting that there are so many items available to display in the first place. It was only by chance in many cases that locomotives redundant to requirements were stored in sheds and workshops with some being destroyed.
The museum itself was opened by Prince Philip in 1975 and coincided with the 150th birthday celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. In 1979, the museum saw the arrival of the historically significant Stephenson’s Rocket replica. The Rocket replica has since travelled the world as a shining light for the museum.
Concerns about the structure of the concrete roof at the museum led to some changes in 1990. To ensure the continued existence of the National Railway Museum in York, the train depot on Leeman Road was converted to host the trains as though in a station. The roof was rebuilt and the museum re-opened in 1992.
The largest locomotive in the museum originates from China and is so large it is actually 1 foot too wide and 2 foot too high to operate on the British mainline. The National Railway Museum also houses the only Japanese Bullet Train outside Japan. Japan reinvented the passenger railway in the 1960s. The Shinkansen was the first railway designed to move significant numbers of people in comfort at high speed using the Bullet train. The service is often compared to air travel and travels at speeds up to 270 kmh.
The National Railway Museum also house the carriage that Queen Victoria regarded as her “palace on wheels”. The Queen’s favourite carriage originally started life in 1869 as two saloons, and was later made into one single 12 wheeled carriage in 1895.
The museum is no stranger to Guinness world records either – the largest collection of model railway vehicles built by one man. James Peel Richards’ dedication to model building led him to construct 610 model railway vehicles during his lifetime. His aim was to build the entire LNWR fleet of locomotives, carriages and wagons as they would have appeared on one day as working examples of the locomotives on the railway.
With regular daily talks, videos and pictures the National Railway Museum in York has a hugely interactive element. Regular events are held at the museum and it can even be booked out for office events including Christmas parties. There is an on-site café and has all the facilities required to make for a fun and interesting family day out!