National Railway Museum

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Leeman Road, York, United Kingdom
www.nrm.org.uk - +44 844 815 3139

National Railway Museum York Reviews

jeminigirl jeminigi…
113 reviews
Not just for train geeks!!! Aug 25, 2015
In my wildest dreams I did not think I would find myself in a museum totally dedicated to trains - trains from the past, trains from the present, trains from around the world - you name it, they probably have it!!!

We ended up here purely because we'd booked afternoon tea at 'The Countess of York' and having arrived early for our slot we found ourselves meandering around the actual museum itself. I have to say it was pretty interesting, even though it's not my thing. The sheer size of some of the engines, is unbelievable, and it's great that you can get really up close to each display. Displays ranged from Stevenson's Rocket to the carriage that was used at Churchill's funeral. An Orient Express carriage, part of a Japanese Bullet train, the list is endless. There's also a model railway too, and a small children's play area. There is also an on site cafe.

My favourite part was the replica station/displays - from piles of luggage to old advertising signs and weighing scales. This museum really does have a lot going on - if you're a train geek it would be paradise for you.

Ideal tourist attraction on a rainy day as it would keep kids occupied for a couple of hours - and it's FREE, though a donation is recommended for the upkeep of the museum.
Engine - sorry no idea which =)
Old fashioned advertising board
Stevenson's Rocket
Weighing scales
4 / 4 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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Ils1976 says:
nice to know coz I am not really one! :D
Posted on: Nov 05, 2015
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Vikram Vikram
248 reviews
Massive for something free! Sep 27, 2013
*** Will write in detail later

What can be said about a railway museum that's caught the fancy of not just the public visiting York, but also of various organisations around the world enough for it to win numerous Museum awards.... that's the York National Railway Museum for you. It's more than just a random display of trains, but it tells the story of how trains impacted the development of society as we see it. The NRM continues to be the most visited museum outside of London for the last 4 years in a row, facty!

The museum hosts over a 100 locomotives that have run on British tracks or were assembled on British soil. There is so much more info one can find about this treasure at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Railway_Museum.

It's really quite big for a free museum. I loved every bit of it infact. It's got a lot of carriers and reminded me of the one I had seen in Madrid. I didn’t bother reading every bit, and the parts outside (in the other room) were a bit overwhelming, although I did enjoy reading about the Eurostar. I finished by 430p. As it's so close to the railway station, I was there within 10 mins to catch my train to London.

My favourite section was the one which houses the Eurostar and talks about its origins.
The Royal insignia seen on practic…
View of the section of the museum …
Just a fancy wall
4 / 4 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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HelenP says:
Vikram, my favorite museum in York and essential place to visit when I go there.. I always give the mallard a pat and visit the engine restoration yard. last time I went they were restoring the flying scotsman
Posted on: Nov 07, 2013
sarahelaine sarahela…
648 reviews
National Railway Museum, York Jun 02, 2012
The National Railway Museum in York is one of Britain’s best known museums. It attempts to cover the whole history of the railways, from static winding engines that pulled coal trucks out of mines through to Bullet Trains, but of course the focus is on steam trains. This is fine with me – I grew up watching Thomas the Tank Engine (the real one, not the modern CGI which has FAR too many characters) and still quote it at least weekly.


York was a massive goods and rail depot in the golden age of the railways, and appropriately the museum is in some of the old buildings next to the East Coast mainline station, making it incredibly easy to get to by rail. As well as the museum buildings, there is a miniature railway for children and some of the trains are outside on sidings.


The NRM restores historic trains, including the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard. The Mallard was the fastest steam train in the world, built in the 1930s and with amazing streamlining. The Evening Star was the last mainline steam train built in the UK, and the Tornado was built very recently, more or less to prove they still could. The museum also houses an absolutely enormous Chinese steam locomotive. There are observation carriages, from the days when trains were run with the idea of sightseeing in mind rather than getting from a to b as fast as possible. There’s also a simulator, some royal carriages to look at, and other historic displays.


There is also a balcony built around their repair shop, and a live display of the signalling system for the East Coast Mainline from London to Edinburgh. For obvious reasons, you aren’t allowed to play with this!


The staff were very good at helping people with questions, as far as they could – of course some visitors were asking extremely hard questions as railways do encourage some frightening levels of enthusiasm! It is an excellent place to bring small children, who despite being born two or three generations after steam vanished from the railways still seem fascinated either by the Hogwarts Express or by Thomas the Tank Engine.


There is, of course, a gift shop and café. Disabled access would be reasonable to most of the site, and you would be fine with a buggy. Entrance is free. Car parking is severely restricted during railway festivals but available at other times – check the website. All in all, this is an excellent place for a day trip with a child (or me) and I’d really recommend it.
Looking under a train
Enormous Chinese train
Old train
Bullet train
7 / 7 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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spicyricecake says:
Congrats on your featured review!
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012
londonstudent says:
Congrats on having the featured review! But what's that about *watching* TtheTE? Was it a tv series? I just remember little books with lots of colour pictures ... but then we didn't have tv when I was a kid!
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012
monky says:
Congrats on the feature Sarah!:D
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012
jostravel jostravel
55 reviews
Chooo Choooooo!!!!!!! Feb 11, 2012
It says it's free - but they try and sell you a guidebook for a fiver on your way in. Amazing exhibitions of old trains, all beautiful and shiny. Plenty of places to eat, don't go to the little outdoor coffee spot, nice for picnics, but service terrible. We didn't do the ride on the train because we went during the school holidays, and it was packed! There's a small art gallery and you can walk along a balcony where they do repairs. Good day out if you're got children, and easy to get around most of it if you have limited mobility.
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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londonstudent londonst…
31 reviews
Worthwhile Day Out If You Like Trains Aug 30, 2010
If you already know and are interested in what a tank engine is, or what 2-4-0 signifies, or what 'lock, block and brake' refers to, then you will probably enjoy your visit to the National Railway Museum at York, as I did. Otherwise, you may sympathise with the woman who I overheard telling her husband that she was bored stiff and was heading to the shops for the afternoon. For there are a great many objects here, from the enormous to the very small, but not enough is done to explain to the unitiated their interest and significance.

The Museum is free, but you cannot just walk in; you have to negotiate an Official Greeter, who will steer you towards a desk where you will be asked to consider a donation of £3, and offered a guide book for £6, although there is no obligation in either case. In the cost category above I have assumed that you make a donation but decline the guide book. Audio thingies are also available.

The Museum, which adjoins York train station, is in two main buildings, joined by a short tunnel under the road that separates them. The Great Hall, which is the main exhibition space, is a former loco shed of colossal dimensions. Around what was once a locomotive turntable are arranged nearly 20 locos, with another dozen or so scattered around the rest of the Great Hall. There are also carriages, signalling equipment, historical advertising and information posters, and much miscellaneous railway equipment and memorabilia. The period covered is from medieval times (because waggons on rails predate locomotives by several hundred years) to the present day. The Great Hall also includes a reference library of thousands of railway books.

The other principal space is the Station Hall, which was formerly a goods sorting station. Here there are more engines and carriages, including some Royal Trains. Other places to visit include the Warehouse, which is basically a repository for over 10,000 miscellaneous objects, and the Workshop, where from a gallery you can see engineers engaged in current restoration projects. From this gallery you have access to an external viewing platform overlooking the northern approach to York train station. There is even an arrivals and departures monitor, so you know that if you hang around for only seven more minutes you can witness the 13.45 from Harrogate rattle past.

Outside there is a dinky fairground with a helter-skelter and proper carousel, a miniature railway, a real working steam locomotive and carriages which for £2 will take you on a 3-minute trundle up and down a piece of track, some big floating balls (don't ask), and quite a nice picnic area.

There is genuinely a great deal to see - I was there for seven hours with only minimal refreshment breaks, and just about covered everything. Real enthusiasts could probably spend days there. In fact, I strongly suspect from their appearance that some never go home; if you've seen Tom Hanks in The Terminal, you'll get the idea.

Refreshments are available in the Great Hall and the Station Yard, but the queues are sometimes long, the prices high, the tables too few, and the table-clearing efficiency minimal. Having said that, however, my tea was made with proper loose tea-leaves, in a pot that yielded three cups, and with fresh milk. If you prefer, you could walk for 10 minutes or so in the general direction of York Minster, where you will find many small cafés offering a wider choice of refreshment.

So does it all work? Not for everyone. Of course, some people will never find this sort of thing interesting, and are only dragged along by children or significant others (see resentful wife, above). But I think that most visitors, even those like me who enjoyed their visit, would find the experience far more rewarding if there were exhibitions that told a story. After all, the advent of the steam locomotive and railway network was probably the most socially significant development of the Victorian era, but you would never have guessed it from the NRM. Or take our attitude towards risk and safety: a British railway carriage is now one of the safest places on earth, and how this came about could be told from material that is actually presented in a pretty random and unconnected way, such as company rule books, old signal boxes, photographs and bits and pieces from railway disasters, telegraph equipment, signals, tokens for single-line working, and so on. Then there is the construction of the railways, an almost incredible feat of engineering in the age of pick-axe and shovel. But there are no diplays that illustrate these stories, or any of the many others that could be told.

Of course, as in most museums, the emphasis will always have to be simply on the display of the collection, and there is much of interest. But one or two exhibitions dealing with a particular aspect of railway history would have been most welcome; as it was, I had the feeling that I had seen much but learned less than I should have done. But it was still a very enjoyable and worthwhile day-trip from London!
No. 5972 "Olton Hall", built in 19…
No. 35029 "Ellerman Lines", which …
George Stephenson overlooks engine…
The whopping 4-8-4 KF7, designed b…
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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londonstudent says:
Thanks Sarah! I was a devotee too, but somehow never connected T and G with real trains, which as far as I was concerned had to be electric and use the third rail system :)
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012
sarahelaine says:
Great review. :) I think yours is much more balanced than mine- I get overexcited about Thomas and Gordon and forget any sort of balance!
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012
sylviandavid says:
Very nice review...
Posted on: Feb 11, 2012

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