England Europe Travel Diary

The fantastic National Railway Museum in York

I am, in a railway museum and I love it.

I am not a train nerd. I really am not. I don’t know the ins and outs of a train engine, I can’t tell the difference between a R class steam and RC 4 electric, and I certainly do not know the history of train development that well!

I do however, love travelling by train. From travelling all over Britain on the train to taking the slow train from St Petersburg to Moscow, I am intrigued with train travel!

Vintage train National Railway Museum - Amy McPherson

So when I heard about the National Railway Museum in York, I couldn’t resist a visit.

The museum celebrates everything train, and everything about British trains

Britain has the oldest railway system in the world, and have had major influence over the development of rail networks in many of it’s former colonies. Naturally, its National Railway Museum, has the largest collection of trains and train related things in the world.

A mock vintage platform at the National Railway Museum in York
A mock vintage platform at the National Railway Museum in York

A look back on the railways of the past

Starting with exhibitions of the railway life, in a mock station hall decorated with carriages, timetables, luggage trolleys and ticket machines.

I was instantly transfix upon entry, curious with the coal engine of the steam trains, looking into every train window for a peek at what it was like travelling by train compared to my own experiences today and most of all, discovering the joy of train travel all throughout the ages.

National Railway Museum decoration - Amy McPherson

While train travel has gotten cheaper and more accessible for the public, it seems to me that in the Victorian times the passengers (at least, the richer ones) could really travel comfortably: we are talking plush seating, full table service dining cars, butler tea service in your cabins decorative lamps for your reading pleasures.

Train carriages for past and present monarchs.
Train carriages for past and present monarchs.

Check out the train carriages fit for monarchs

The British Monarchs especially had their carriages decked out with the mod-cons of the day, with ‘lounge room’ carriage separate to their sleeping carriage, as well as half a carriage reserved for clothing and luggage.

If only my daily commute to work is half the luxury they used to have!

Train names and signs
Train names and signs

Trains of the past, present and the future

After having experienced the glorious old days, in a different section of the museum it is all about the evolution of the trains.

From the old Pullman carriages to the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) it is in this hall that the true nerds from the crowd of nerds.

The entire section is hands on, where you can sit in the carriages and watch documentaries on the operations of the trains, climb under a train and see how all it works ‘under the bonnet’ and see cross sections of train engines to understand how the trains are powered.

The train workshop at the National Railway museum has a collection of old and new trains, including the Japanese Shinkansen!
The train workshop at the National Railway museum has a collection of old and new trains, including the Japanese Shinkansen!

Get lost in the treasure trove of train and railway related things!

Zigzagging in and out of train carriages I found myself in what could only be called the Treasure Cave of all things trains.

There is a large collection of model trains (I believe, every single train type that has ever been produced and used in Britain and other countries) as well as stacks of chairs, station signs, decorations, platform fittings, signal apparatus and guard whistles.

You name it, you will be able to find it here.

Look at all these old signs and train related stuff!
Look at all these old signs and train related stuff!

Can you imagine a better place for a train enthusiast (both the nerdy kind and the leisure kind)?

The museum is suitably located just behind York train station. I say suitably because at time of its establishment (1877), York station is said to be the largest railway station in the world!

Admission is free. Donations are encouraged!

nrm.org.uk

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