York’s National Railway Museum was established in 1975 and is home to the national collection of historically significant railway vehicles such as Mallard, Stirling Single, Duchess of Hamilton and a Japanese bullet train.
I would personally call the centre a national treasure, I’ve many wonderful memories of family visits from past and present.
Family Friendly Visit
The museum is very family oriented and has great facilities for everyone. During our trip with our grandson, we discovered so much on offer for all ages.
Our grandson Elijah really enjoyed himself while learning about the railways and was fascinated with the historic steam engines. His eyes lit up as soon as he saw the rows of trains inside the building, which is filled with trains of all types and eras throughout history.
The train that surprised me the most was probably the Japanese bullet train, I wasn’t expecting to see one in their collection, but I love the British heritage of the steam trains too.
During school holidays there are special events to take part in, so it is certainly worth visiting with children at these times, although it will be busier than usual. Check their website for special events at the National Railway Museum in York.
There are two café areas serving hot and cold meals and snacks as well as drinks. On our family visit, we took advantage of this opportunity for a lunch break and chose the open plan café. The food was delicious and the portion size very generous too.
What’s also so different about this café was that it’s set in an open position with trains surrounding the seating area. My grandson loved it too.
Pullman Car Topaz
The American entrepreneur George Pullman created lavish carriages to add to the American railways in 1862 and these became very popular, they were fully carpeted and had upholstered seats and even a steward service. In 1874 the Midland Railway Company brought the concept to the UK.
The Pullman Car Company’s First Class Parlour Car ‘Topaz,’ luxury carriage was built in 1913, Topaz is a 1st Class Parlour car built at Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Works Co. Ltd., Smethwick in 1913 and entered service with South Eastern & Chatham Railway in 1914.
The LNER 4468 Mallard is a LNER Class A4 4-6-2 steam locomotive built by the London & North Eastern Railway at Doncaster Works, England in 1938.
It is a significant train in the collection in York due to holding a historical speed record for steam engines at 126 miles per hour, (203kmh.)
It was designed by Nigel Gresley and is 70ft long, (21.34m.) It was designed to pull streamlined trains. The wind-tunnel-tested, aerodynamic body and high power allowed the class to reach speeds of over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), although in everyday service it rarely attained this speed.
When the Mallard was in service with British Railways, it regularly steam-hauled rail services in the UK which were officially limited to a 90 mph ‘line speed’, before the war, the A4s had to run significantly above 90 mph just to keep schedule on trains such as the Silver Jubilee and The Coronation, with the engines reaching 100 mph on many occasions.
Mallard covered almost one and a half million miles (2.4 million km) before it was officially retired on the 25th April 1963, its restoration took place between 1986 and 1988. Now a part of the National Railway Museum collection in York.
Japanese Bullet Train
The bullet train, or “Shinkansen”, is a type of passenger train which operates on Japan’s high-speed railway network. It is capable of reaching a maximum speed of 320kms per hour, and the Bullet train offers riders an exceptionally unique and efficient travel experience.
The list of Shinkansen train lines includes the Akita, Hokuriku, Joetsu, Kyushu, and Yamagata.
While some routes are especially popular among travellers – Tokyo to Nagano, Tokyo to Kyoto, Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima – all feature frequent, and timely departures throughout the week.
The maximum operating speed is 320 km/h (200 mph) (on a 387.5 km section of the Tōhoku Shinkansen). Test runs have reached 443 km/h (275 mph) for conventional rail in 1996, and up to a world record 603 km/h (375 mph) for SCMaglev trains in April 2015.
Once inside the vast museum, you’ll notice that the exhibits are wide ranging from early steam railway trains, including the fastest recorded steam locomotive through to the Eurotunnel exhibits which show the trains used during the construction of the Eurotunnel, and the trains used on route carrying passengers now.
Eurotunnel facts; (The tunnel is a 50.46-kilometre (31.35 mi) railway that connects the UK to France.) It’s interesting to learn how it was constructed and it’s use today.
A few facts on the Eurotunnel, at its lowest point, it is 75 metres (250 ft) deep below the sea bed and 115 metres (380 ft) below sea level. It is 37.9 kilometres (23.5 mi), which makes the tunnel, the longest underwater section of any tunnel in the world.
The museum also runs a road train service, which is a wonderful way to discover the city of York, the service usually runs between the railway museum and York Minster every 30 minutes, but do check the National Railway Museum website for full details to check for any changes or disruptions to the service.
Location and Entry
National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ
It situated not far at all from the magnificent York Railway Station itself.
Free entry to the museum
A well designed and very organised museum with facilities for everyone. There’s a lift for disabled access and for pushchair access, the baby change room was very useful for us on our visit too.
There are plenty of exhibitions to be discovered and interactive activities to take part in throughout the museum depending on the time of year and whether an activity needs to be booked in advance or not.
Our family have enjoyed visits to the railway museum on many occasions, from toddlers through to grown ups and now with our grandson too. It’s not just for railway enthusiasts, there’s something fascinating to learn and discover for everyone.