The National Railway Museum is a museum in York forming part of the Science Museum Group. The museum tells the story of rail transport in Britain and its impact on society. It was founded in 1975. Home to iconic locomotives and an unrivalled collection of engineering brilliance, we celebrate the past, present and future of innovation on the railways.
National Railway Museum, York
The National Railway Museum, in York, is home to some of the country’s greatest feats of engineering and tells the story of Britain’s railway innovation. It is the largest, and arguably the most historically important, railway museum in the world. The museum holds a staggering 100 historic locomotive engines and a wealth of railway memorabilia spread across several huge railway sheds.
The museum was founded in 1975 on the site of the former North York locomotive depot, where it still stands today. In the early days of locomotive transport, York was revered as the heart of the rail networks of the north.
Highlights of the Railway Museum
- The Great Hall is home to the Mallard, which sets the world speed record for a steam locomotive in 1938 - a record that has never been beaten. Children will enjoy the Mallard experience, a simulator that lets you experience what it was like to ride on the Mallard during its record-breaking journey.
- Climb aboard a 1960s Shinkansen, the Japanese bullet train, a breakthrough in high-speed rail travel and Japan’s pride, admire the sleek, modern design, and make yourself comfortable in the carriage.
- The Eurostar is the train that connected Britain to Europe through the Channel Tunnel. A special exhibit looks at the role played by ambulance trains during the First World war.
- Railway enthusiasts will love seeing a replica of George Stephenson's famous Rocket (1829), considered the world's first true steam locomotive.
- One of the most interesting exhibits is a 1949, 4-6-2 locomotive that has been cut in half to give visitors a better idea of how the engine functioned.
- There is the Coppernob, the only surviving example of a bar-framed locomotive in Britain, built-in 1847. The locomotive was damaged in a WWII bombing rain and you can still see the holes.
- Another Victorian engine is the 'Hippopotamus Class' No. 1275, built-in 1874. It was unstable at high speeds, but its power made it perfect for hauling heavy loads.
- The North Shed is devoted to ‘The Flying Scotsman Story’. Since returning to the tracks in 2016, Flying Scotsman has hauled special passenger tours across the UK and made appearances at the National Railway Museum in York and Locomotion in Shildon. Flying Scotsman is preparing for its 2022 tour schedule.
- The highlight of Station Hall is Queen Victoria's Railway Carriage, dubbed 'a Palace on Wheels'. This opulent carriage was used by the queen and her family members, including Prince Albert and Edward VII. The Museum holds the world's finest collection of royal carriages and furnishings.
- The South Yard is home to the Museum's popular miniature railway. The railway usually runs on a small oval track. There is also a steam-driven train that runs during school holidays and on the weekends. You can also step inside the Depot to see more historic vehicles that aren't always on display.
- The Signalling School invites visitors to learn how to use a set of railway signals to direct trains, while a viewing balcony looks out over the modern railway station that adjoins the museum. You can see museum staff restoring vintage locomotives in the workshop.
Events and Exhibitions
The Railway Museum is spread over three gigantic sheds and a large outdoor area that serves as a perfect place for events, exhibitions like the miniature railway ride, the Mallard experience ride, the young railway photographer of the year, or the outdoor play area.
Shopping at the Railway Museum
Indulge in a wide variety of locomotive models, gifts, homewares, and collectibles inspired by the great railways and the National Railway Museum's world-famous collection.
Eating at Railway Museum
Indulge your taste buds with one of York's finest luxury afternoon tea experiences, from the comfort of the National Railway Museum's beautifully restored rail carriage - “The Countess of York" or soak yourself in the finest ambiance with delectable food and beverages at The Great Hall Café.
A great day out If you are a railway buff and love steam. The display of Royal Trains and Pullman carriages are worth the visit. It has proudly been awarded a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award (2021) and achieved the Best Family Attraction in York in the Little Vikings Awards 2022.