Monday 13 September 2021

The National Railway Museum, York

On our recent trip to York we spent a fantastic morning at the National Railway Museum.

The National Railway Museum, York - a family visit

The museum is free to visit, but tickets do need to be booked in advance on the website here - National Railway Museum. We had no problem booking tickets a week or so in advance, and I did notice that there were walk in tickets available when we arrived first thing.

We visited in late August 2021 when most covid restrictions had been lifted, although it was still requested to wear a facemask. Restrictions still in place did mean that it wasn't possible to go onboard and explore any of the trains that are on display, so if that's important to you then it's worth checking the current status before you visit. We visited with our two children aged 10 and 12 as well as some younger cousins. 

Your visit starts in the Station Hall and the main attraction here are the royal trains and carriages, it's fascinating to look through the windows and see how they were furnished for different royals. 

The National Rail Museum York, train travel posters

We treated the children to a ride on the miniature railway which cost £3 each for a short ride around the track. There are a limited number of tickets which need to be purchased once you arrive at the museum, so make sure you that buy these first if you want to ride! They enjoyed the trip, and there were lots of different things for them to spot along their journey.

York Railway Museum small train ride outside

One of the star attractions at the museum is Stephenson's original Rocket, not the first steam engine but one of the most significant and a huge part of railway history. Having read about it in many of his books, Harry was thrilled to see it in real life, and kept going back to have another look!

Stephenson's Rocket at the National Railway Museum, York

The largest area of the museum is the Great Hall where you can see many, many different trains displayed around an original turntable. There's a Eurostar train, a Japanese bullet train and lots more  remarkable and historical trains. There is plenty of information to tell you all about them, and you can climb up to see them from above. I'm also pretty sure that the collections change every now and then, so there is often something new to see if you are lucky enough to live nearby.

At the side of the Great Hall there's a small model railway which the little ones loved. At any one time there is at least one train running and you can also see into the control box with lots of interesting buttons. There's also the Ambulance Train, which is the one train that you are currently allowed to step inside, and a tunnel where you can walk under a train and see what goes on underneath.

National Railway Museum York turntable

Finally, probably my favourite area at the museum was the Collections Store in the North Shed. It's basically a huge storeroom filled with all sorts of railway history in the form of memorabilia, signs, models, train service tableware, various items of furniture, vending machines - all sorts of fascinating things to browse through! Apparently there's a Platform 9 3/4 sign from Harry Potter in there somewhere, although we didn't find it. We did find this sign though - it's always nice to see something from home when you are far away!

Local train signs at the National Railway Museum in York

We realised that we weren't going to be home in time for lunch so we had something to eat at the Station Hall Café. There was a good selection of food available, with sandwiches and wraps, as well as picnic boxes for the children, and a large table for us all to eat together. There's a second café in the Great Hall which also looked good (and the staff told us that they had the best cakes!)

We spent about three hours here, and some of us could easily have spent longer! Personally I could have spent ages browsing through the bits and pieces in the North Shed and Harry loved seeing all the different trains up close. If you are visiting York I'd definitely recommend a visit. 

You can find more information here - National Railway Museum

The National Railway Museum in York for families

1 comment:

  1. What a fun day out. It sounds like there is plenty to do and see. The miniature railway looks like a lot of fun. x


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