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Step Aboard The National Railway Museum In York

26 January 2022

Should you find yourself visiting the picturesque city of York, there’s one attraction set to please the entire family. Oh, and it’s free admission too.

Strikingly close to the train station, the National Railway Museum is steep in history and character, a must-visit for your adventure in the city.

Grab your suitcase and let’s get moving, shall we?

If you’re ready to step aboard this family fun day out, here’s what you can expect.

Check out the selection at Station Hall

Once you’re through the hustle and bustle of the queues, the first part of the museum you’ll come across is the Station Hall.

The old goods shed has been transformed into platform upon platform of trains from every era your heart longs for.

From an old steam locomotive to a postal sorting van to Queen Mary’s Saloon, there’s a whole lot to cast your eyes upon.

As you wander around the platform exhibits, take the time to peek in the windows of each train at the station – you won’t regret it.

Each carriage has a unique story to tell and many of the original features have been salvaged. Take a moment to imagine the wonders that took place in everyone. 

On occasion, the museum hosts special events in this main area. For example, you may come across an interactive murder mystery game or special events for the little ones.

Ahead of booking your day trip, it’s worth checking out what’s on via the main website to plan your visit.

Wander over to the Great Hall

When you’ve explored all there is to explore in the Station Hall, the next stop has to be the Great Hall.

Within the walls of the old engine shed, you can find a pretty expensive collection. Yes, the museum curators show off some of history’s memorable trains.

Whether you’re heading here on a solo adventure or out with the whole family, there’s a lot to take in.

You can find handy bridges strategically placed around the room, which means you can look at the train exhibits from every possible angle.

Of course, should you want the inside scoop on anything? From the Coppernob to the Duchess of Hamilton, you can find a member of staff to dish the dirt.=

The ominously tired ‘Explainers’ are all over the museum, each with a vivid knowledge of the locomotives.

Time-travel back to 1960s Japan

Chances are, you weren’t flitting around Japan by bullet train back in the mid-1960s. (Of course, if you were, more power to you!)

So, having the opportunity to climb aboard the Shinkansen while you’re in the heart of Yorkshire is something of a rare treat.

Running at super-fast speeds of 150mph, the so-called ‘bullet train’ covered the distance between Tokyo and Osaka. It was iconic.

Now a permanent fixture at the National Railway Museum, the train is always a popular choice for tourists. You can step onto the sleekly designed vehicle and take a seat.

The interior has barely cowered to the cruel hand of time—much of it is still intact. From the freshly-pressed curtains to the crisp seats, it’s something of a time capsule.

Bonus points if you dress up as a businessperson, bring your own vintage newspaper, and look wistfully out of the window as you pretend to speed across Asia.

Experience the world’s fastest steam locomotive

One of the museum’s newest attractions is the Mallard Experience. Before we get into the experience itself, here’s a quick history lesson.

Back in July 1938, the A4 class locomotive Mallard set the steam locomotive world speed record.

The impressive train travelled down Stoke Bank at a massive 126mph—a record that still stands to this very day. It was quite the feat!

For speed-lovers and history buffs, the museum’s simulation is as close to the real deal as they can imagine.

The attraction takes you through the motions, literally, meaning that you get to experience every bump and grind of the trail.

Become a giant on the Miniature Railway

On a dry day, you can also take a ride on the museum’s miniature railway.

Suited to children, the ride is always a popular attraction and makes for a fun outdoor break in the South Yard of the building.

While it’s not the fastest ride in the world (not by a long shot) the miniature railway takes a turn through the gardens.

If you happen to visit in spring or summer, you’ll get a chance to see some of the local flora as you sit atop the teeny train.

The takeaway 

Whether you’re out with the entire family, on a romantic weekend, or taking a solo gander around York, the National Railway Museum won’t disappoint.

Combining just the right amount of historic education peppered with rides and attractions, there’s something for everyone.

Admission to the museum is free but donations are welcomed and some exhibits cost an additional fee.

Be sure to book your place in advance.