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The largest and oldest railway museum in the world with many prize exhibits

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The Rocket
Duchess of Hamilton
Bullet Train
Queens Carriages
Railway Children
Signals & Workshops
The National Railway Museum is the largest of its type in the world, and lays claim to more than 700,000 visitors a year. This makes it more popular than any other museum in the country, outside of London.

The Duchess of Hamilton
It has existed in some form since the 1800s, but the present site was opened by Prince Philip in 1975 - appropriately enough, right next door to York Railway Station. There is actually a rail link connecting the two places, allowing the museum to continually change the models on display. This means there's always something new to see.
However, the most popular exhibits are permanent, and they begin with several ancient-looking vehicles, from as early as 1815. These include a bright yellow replica of The Rocket, one of the first steam locomotives to come into commercial use. This signified the beginning of widespread train transport, but it didn't have the best start. The Rocket only travelled at 12 miles an hour, yet on its first day of operation still managed to accidentally run over a government MP!

Rocket replica
Photo Marcin Wichary
Of course, rail travel has changed a lot since then, with no better example than the museum's Palaces on Wheels area, which displays royal trains unmatched in opulence. In 1842, Queen Victoria became the first monarch to be a rail passenger, and now Queen Elizabeth is continuing the tradition. In fact, she reportedly prefers trains to any other form of travel! Carriages used by both queens are available for viewing, but these are hardly the pinnacle of train technology!
That accolade probably goes to the Japanese bullet train. With its streamlined body and rocked-shaped nose, it looks more like a spaceship than public transport. Even with a top-speed of 220 miles per hour, it is one of the safest trains ever made. York is the only place in the world to see one, outside of Japan.

Japanese Bullet Train
Other models in the collection range far and wide, from the Mallard, the fastest steam train ever built, to the Flying Scotsman, which is perhaps the most famous. Even Harry Potter's favourite vehicle, the Hogwarts Express, visited in 2004. But that's not everything. The museum also displays a huge range of rail-related items, from tickets and posters, all the way to a section of the Channel Tunnel. Visitors can ride on mini-trains, or watch real rail engineers carry out their work.

The Mallard
Photo cooldudeandy01

The Mallard's controls
In fact, the National Rail Museum has been praised for its new ideas. It recently implemented a modern search system, for easy access to its vast archives. It also staged a theatrical production of The Railway Children, which was very well received by critics. There's always something interesting going on, which led to its crowning as the European Museum of the Year in 2001. So, for any visitor to York, it's a must-see.

Did You Know?

The National Rail Museum operate a road train from the city centre straight to the Museum's door. Trips leave the Museum on the hour and half hour from 11am to 4pm and depart from Duncombe Place (next to the Minster) every 30mins from 11.15am to 4.15pm. Trips cost £2 each way.

The Road Train at the Minster
Visitor Information
The museum is open daily 10am to 6pm. Entry is FREE. Tel: 01904 621261

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