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Our Legacy since 1977 £2.2 Million Achieving 60 plus projects   

We are always grateful for donations, endowments and bequests of any size - any gift makes a difference.  As a charity, our income enables us to care for Britain's Railway heritage and to benefit all.

You can click on the donate icon here, to donate online.

To donate by cheque/post, send to:

Friends of NRM

National Railway Museum,

Leeman Road,


YO26 4XJ

To donate by telephone phone: 01904 636874

Gift Aid

This will increase your donation by 25p per £1 donated, at no cost to you. 

For more information, or to make a donation, please email us

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Since 1977 over £2.2m has been raised by FNRM (Friends of the National Railway Museum) initiatives to support over 60 museum projects in the following  categories :- Locomotives, Carriages, Artefacts and Archives. The National Railway Museum acknowledges that the scale and range of the projects have made a significant unique contribution to the expansion of the museums offer to the public over the last 43 years. The cash has come from Members subscriptions , Trading , Outreach activities, Public Appeals, Partnerships, Lottery Awards, Legacies and Donations. 






The Friends of the National Railway Museum gave £250,000 towards  the  development of Wonderlab to commemorate  the outstanding contributions made by Michael Wallace, MBE to the Museum. The distinctive  area is an introduction to the Wonderlab experience and will be used for briefing school parties and for demonstrations about engineering and railway topics. 

View the museums Wonderlab flythrough video here


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Over 180  oral history recordings were made as part of the Britain’s Railways All Change (BRAC) archive project.
BRAC was initiated and funded  by the Friends of the National Railway Museum in partnership with  members of the Retired Railway Officers Society to cover gaps in documenting the railway privatisation process in the United Kingdom, between 1994 and 1997, when the government-owned British Rail was dismantled into over 100 privately-owned companies. The interviews capture the recollections of people involved in the planning and implementation of the privatisation process, the management of change and running the railway during privatisation. The individual interview summaries can be accessed
here and may be listened to, by prior arrangement with NRM Search Engine by contacting them  


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TRAIN DETECTION AND CONTROL is the fifth volume in the series titled ‘The History and Development of Railway Signalling in the British Isles’. Written by Tony Pinkstone and Mike Peart, this volume looks at the development of train detection from its earliest uses at the dawn of railways through to the high speed lines of today. It shows how equipment needed to keep pace and maintain safety with increases in railway lines' capacity and speeds in all weathers. Engineering and technological developments in track circuiting, axle counters, treadles and other detection equipment are covered in detail. Footplate systems such as Automatic Train Control, Automatic Warning System and Train Protection and Warning System, all of which have seen extensive development are examined along with some inventors’ systems that didn’t make the grade. Above all, the quest for greater safety and learning the lessons from real-life incidents are fully described. Read about the HADORS series here


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The FNRM were called upon at short notice to help with the acquisition of one of Rowland Emett’s most colourful and intricate sculptures.  Having lain in pieces for over eight years, it was likely that this, the largest of Emett’s many moving pieces of art, would be bought by overseas investors. Read about this fascinating item here

Photo: Jason Hynes, Science Museum Group


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After many years being exhibited in the Science Museum, London, Stephenson’s original Rocket was transferred to York in 2019 in support of the excellent Brass, Steel and Fire exhibition of models of early locomotives. At the NRM, home of Britain’s railways, Rocket will continue to be exhibited, although sometimes it will be taken to sister museum Shildon for exhibition. As the other ‘most famous steam locomotive in the world’ the original Rocket is somewhat different in appearance to the replicas, as following its successful trial at Rainhill in 1829, it continued to be used for tests and was modified in several ways before finally being ‘withdrawn’. The Rainhill trials, the development of the Liverpool and Manchester railway and a profile of the Stephensons is given in this latest FNRM publication. Read about the Friends book publishing story here


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A special exhibition of an Ambulance Coach was opened at the NRM in 2016 in time for the 100th commemoration of the end of the Great war in 1918. Many of these coaches were built or converted from existing vehicles to carry home the wounded from the battle fields and it was found that no book had ever been written specifically on these invaluable vehicles which saved so many soldiers’’ lives. Trains of Hope describes the story of those who built them, travelled on them and worked on them during many different conflicts. The first ambulance train was actually hauled by Rocket, when it was pressed onto service to carry William Huskisson MP to hospital in 1830 after being hit by a passing train. Sadly, he didn’t make it to the hospital, only to pass away in a nearby house soon after the accident. Read about the Friends book publishing story here


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Often called the most famous steam locomotive in the world (although some would contest that Rocket may hold that claim), Flying Scotsman returned to mainline operational condition in 2016 having been under overhaul for over ten years. Since being bought from British railways in the 1960s, it had passed through a series of private owners until it was finally ‘won’ at auction for the national Collection. After many years, working on steam charters had taken its toll, and a complete ‘nut and bolt’ overhaul was required. Members of the Friends ran an on board sales trolley, and also set up stands at stations, to sell mementoes of the Scotsman-hauled excursions, with items from a 50p postcard to a £45 plaque. The best seller was the latest FNRM publication, Flying Scotsman – the locomotive. Telling the story of this famous locomotive from its appearance at Wembley in 1924 to the present day, with many colour photographs, this books has continued to sell in large volumes ever since, with Scotsman being on the mainline every summer (2020 excepted due to Covid). A second edition was published in 2018 which included more coverage of its sell-out excursions during 2016/7. Read about the Friends book publishing story here


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LEVEL CROSSINGS is the fourth volume in the series titled ‘The History and Development of Railway Signalling in the British Isles’. Written by Tony Pinkstone and Mike Peart, this 218 page volume looks at the development of level crossings from their earliest uses covering horse-drawn waggonways up to today’s high speed lines. Engineering, legislation and technological developments from mechanical to automatic crossing equipment are explored in detail as level crossing safety tried to keep pace with increases in railway lines' capacity and speed. Human interaction – and frequent impatience - with the railway at level crossings is also examined. Above all, the quest for greater safety and learning the lessons from real-life incidents is described in some detail. Read about the HADORS series here


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Bulleid pacific 34051 Winston Churchill pulled the funeral train of the great man in January 1965, and the NRM brought together several of the actual vehicles which were in that train for an exhibition to commemorate 50 years since that freezing cold January day when the train took his body from London to Long Hanborough, near Blenheim. Bulleid’s pacifics were unusual in many ways; not only being developed and built during World War 2, but also in their engineering and profile, although many were later rebuilt to look like more conventional engines. The Friends book, Winston Churchill and the Bulleid Pacifics was published covering the provenance, design and working life of these locomotives, several of which are now preserved across the country. Read about the Friends book publishing story here


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The Friends South of England Group (SoEG) raised funds for the restoration of 34051 Winston Churchill ready to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the locomotive pulling his funeral train in 1965.  A painting by Philip D Hawkins FGRA of ‘The ACE (Atlantic Coast Express) at Battledown’ was commissioned, limited edition prints being sold to raise funds. Read the article here 

The ACE at Battledown by Philip D Hawkins . Photo: Ian Harrison


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FREIGHT MARSHALLING YARD OPERATION, CONTROL AND SIGNALLING is the third volume in the series titled ‘The History and Development of Railway Signalling in the British Isles’. Written by Richard Parker and Mike Peart, the historical development of marshalling yards, typical layouts and the wide range of equipment used in them is well covered in the book’s 218 pages. The introduction of hump yards and retarding and switching equipment grew to be sophisticated although did not rule out some risky human operations such as those of ‘chasers’. A full list of actual and proposed mechanised yards is included. The history concludes with a discussion of the changing patterns in wagonload and trainload freight traffic leading to the end of mechanised marshalling in this country. Read about the HADORS series here


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This signal box at Borough Market Junction in South London, was where the lines from London Bridge, Cannon Street and Charing Cross converge. It was originally mounted on top of a brick tower that provided a good view over the lines that the signal box controlled.

Built in 1895 to standard South Eastern Railway design and equipped with a Westinghouse K frame in 1928, it was said to be the busiest in Britain, at peak times two signallers dealt with 100 trains an hour. It was closed in 1976, when London Bridge power box was opened and it was then dismantled.  The wooden ‘cabin’ portion and frame was donated to the NRM.  Eventually it may be rebuilt on a brick base, possibly using some of the original bricks which are being carefully stored. Read the article here   


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F A R S A P  (Film Archive of Railway Signalling and People). The Friends in partnership with The Signalling Record Society and supported by Network Rail and the Railway Heritage Trust initiated a project to record on film unique traditional signalling and operating practices at over 150 locations before they are absorbed into centralised control centres. Read the article here

Signal gantry from SMG collection


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Steve Davies, the NRM Director at the time, decided that to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Mallard’s record run, all six surviving A4s should come together for the ‘Great Gathering’. This amazing achievement generated huge attendance at the NRM and Shildon and the Friends had a sales stand at both sites. We published a book about Gresley’s A4 Class, and for the 16 days of the

initial exhibition at York, open 10am to 6pm, we sold a book every two minutes, that’s almost 4000 copies! As in 1988, when Mallard88 generated a large income from ticket sales, Mallard 75 did the same, which helped the Friends’ funds having earlier donated a large sum for the restoration of two of the Gresley A4s in the event. Read about the Friends book publishing story here


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To appeal to young visitors to the NRM and Shildon, a small book describing various locomotives in the National Collection, from across the centuries, was published. At a pocket-money price of £3, youngsters could read about how British railway locomotives developed from Rocket to the latest Javelin and Eurostar Classes. This book has sold many thousands and was reprinted in 2015 to bring it up to date with the latest developments in the ever-evolving story of Britain’s railways. Read about the Friends book publishing story here


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FNRM North East Branch funded the purchase of a very special Merry-Go-Round wagon to exhibit at Shildon. A tense day of bidding in November 2010 for the final MGR wagon built at Shildon resulted in the Friends clinching the deal and then arranging for it to be brought back to its ‘birthplace’. Read the article here

Photo: Dave Camp


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Although in the National Collection since 1980, for several years in the 1990s Great Northern Railway No 1247 was on loan to various heritage railways and was overhauled and painted into BR black in 1995.  On its return to the NRM, the Friends South of England Group raised funds for the locomotive to be repainted back into its original green livery, and in May 2009 it is seen here at Locomotion, Shildon. Read the article here                     

 Photo © Philip Benham


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With traces of snow below the crest of the fells, Lord Nelson hauls eleven carriages across Dandry Mire viaduct, Cumbria in January 1981 with a fine exhaust in the chill winter air. 30850 Lord Nelson 4-6-0 (SR 850 & BR 30850) - designer Richard Maunsell and restored for main line operation by Eastleigh Preservation Trust - supported financially by FNRM. Read the article here

Photo © Philip Benham


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With the demand for National Collection locomotives to be restored to mainline running condition in the new millennium, the FNRM decided to capitalise further on the very profitable business of publishing books. Building on the wide knowledge of FNRM members, and with access to the NRM’s extensive resources, especially photographs, it was decided that books should be written to describe the various locomotives used on steam charters. With no authors’ costs, no royalties and no editorial and proof reading costs, these tasks all being performed ‘in house’, the only cost was for printing. The books were sold not only on board the trains hauled by the locomotives, but also on Heritage Railways, when the locomotives might be operating there, and also in the NRM shop, the locomotives often being on display in the Great Hall between mainline duties. From 2003 to 2009, seven books on specific locomotives were published – City of Truro (2003), Flying Scotsman (2005), although at this time Scotsman was still privately owned, Living with Green Arrow (2005), Sir Lamiel (2006), Oliver Cromwell (2007), Duchess of Hamilton (2009) and Lord Nelson (2009). Read about the Friends book publishing story here

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THE TELEGRAPH AND THE ABSOLUTE BLOCK: SINGLE LINE OPERATION is the second volume in the series ‘The History and Development of Railway Signalling in the British Isles’. Written by David Stirling and published in 2002 this is effectively two books in one with the first (132 pages) covering how many of the early railway companies developed their telegraph systems and introduced block working and its associated equipment. Helpful diagrams and illustrations show how the major players improved equipment and operating safety. The second book (168 pages) shows how single line working developed from the early train staff systems, token equipment through to radio electronic token block. Read about the HADORS series




The National Archive of Railway Oral History was a three year project developed and managed by FNRM and partially financed by an award of £95,000 from the  Heritage Lottery Fund. 

In three years the whole life stories of 500 men and women who worked on railways were recorded and deposited in the NRM archives. Read the article here

Photo: Lesley Cook, East Anglian Daily Times


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Ever since the first railways began, control of trains has been vital to ensure the safety of railway employees and passengers.  As networks became more complicated, the number of trains increased and the trains’ speeds meant that advanced warning had to be given of the road ahead, signalling has become ever more complex.  From simple mechanical apparatus to electrical and now computerised systems, signalling has advanced to become a hugely complex subject.  In 2000, the FNRM decided to start writing and publishing a series of books on signalling, not only ‘lifting the lid’ on this fascinating subject but also to raise funds.  The first HADORS book was published in 2000, and on average, a new book is published every four years (with the fifth edition imminent).  Read the History and Development of Railway Signalling (HADORS) story here

Image of signal gantry (photo courtesy SSPL)


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BROAD SURVEY was the first volume in the series titled ‘The History and Development of Railway Signalling in the British Isles’. Written by Stanley Hall and published in 2000, this 230 page book covers the development of signalling and safe railway operation from its genesis and provides a backdrop for the subsequent volumes in the series. Thirty-five well-illustrated thematic chapters take the reader from hand signals and how the earliest trains were kept apart and safe up to the latest technology of the time on the national infrastructure and mass transit systems.  Read about the HADORS series here


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Green Arrow was selected to be part of the National Collection as representative of one of the most versatile classes of LNER locomotive, the V2s. Once given the epithet ‘the locomotives that won the war’ the V2 class did play a major role, but that was true of many other classes across the ‘big four’ railway companies of the time. A book describing not just Green Arrow, but the 184 strong class built between 1936 and 1944 was published and this proved very popular on the many steam trips hauled by Green Arrow. Read about the Friends book publishing story here



The Great Railway Show -  Expansion of volunteering opportunities at NRM. Great Railway Show poster. Read the article here 


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LMS Coronation Class 46229 Duchess of Hamilton. Restoration to BR mainline operational standards funded by Friends of the NRM.  Read the article here 

Photo: Roger Bastin

Photo: Ian Smith


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LNER A4 Pacific 4468 Mallard – 126mph on 3rd July 1938. Restored to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the world record run. Read the article here  

  Photo © Philip Benham


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To support the 50th anniversary of Mallard’s record breaking run on 3 July 1938, the Friends decided to write and publish a book for sale at the NRM and also on-board the Mallard-hauled excursions, This 48 page A4 size (what other size would have been appropriate!?) softback charted the history of this famous locomotive. With many colour pictures plus diagrams of the locomotive, this was a very popular memento of the occasion bought by most of the passengers on the special excursions. Read about the Friends book publishing story here


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Locomotives belonging to the NRM (called the National Collection) often operated on British Rail tracks, and now work on Network Rail’s tracks.To ensure that locomotives were available and in excellent condition, between 1980 and 1990, the FNRM sponsored the employment of two fitters at the NRM York, Kim Malyon and Peter Pickering.  As well as maintaining all the operational locos based at the NRM, they also co-ordinated and managed the restoration of Duchess of Hamilton and Mallard. Secondly, between 1977 and 1991, the NRM insisted that all volunteers involved in the operating support teams for the charters had to be members of the Friends. The FNRM contributed to every main line operation during that period through financial support, and providing staff and a support coach to run steam charters, which in turn generated substantial income for, and raised the profile of the NRM.  A typical trip was the centenary celebrations of the Tay Rail bridge.  Read the story here



Letchworth Station 1912. Spencer Frederick Gore -1878 - 1914. Read the article here  

NRM archives


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Celebrated railway artist, Terence Cuneo, has again supported the Friends of the NRM through publishers Richard Lucraft Ltd., with a limited edition print of No 6000 King George V emerging from Dainton Tunnel.  Part of the profits from the sale of these went towards supporting the restoration of the locomotive.  Read the story of his delight when painting another of our National Collection locomotives, Duchess of Hamilton, here


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The Friends support coach at Stratford-upon-Avon in the summer of 1985. The crew is relaxing while 46229 has gone to turn. Note the two large water carriers visible through the kitchen window. Members of the Friends have supported steam excursions for many years and in 1983 they financed the conversion of a British Railways 2nd brake to accommodate eating, sleeping, catering and general support duties to facilitate fundraising and publicity for the FNRM and the NRM.  The current support coach now serves as a mobile ‘base’ for FNRM members selling memorabilia on Flying Scotsman excursions, travelling many thousands of miles a year.Read the story here

Photo: Rob Tibbits



Chinese Government Railway Steam Locomotive 4-8-4. Designer Col K Cantlie,  Built 1935 Vulcan Foundries, Newton-le-Willows. Donated to NRM by Chinese Railways 1983. Friends supported restoration to Museum display standards. Read the article here

Photo: SMG Collection


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46229 Duchess of Hamilton makes a spirited get-away for the benefit of the passengers and photographers past Armathwaite signalbox during one of the ’55 Club’ tours run during the 1980s.  It did of course reverse to the station so they could re-board. Read the story here                                                   

Photo: Mike Lamport


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LMS Class 502 Electric Multiple Unit built Derby 1939.

Restored and operated at Steamport by NW Group FNRM 1981 - 1990. Read the article here

Photo: Robert Hampton


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Lord Nelson at Culgaith, near Penrith, on a Cumbrian Mountain Express, 3 August 1982. 30850 Lord Nelson 4-6-0 (SR 850 & BR 30850)-designed by Richard Maunsell and maintained and prepared by Friends volunteers. Read the article here

Photo: © Philip Benham


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The 1980 Rainhill Cavalcade, also known as Rocket 150, featured many locomotives from the National Collection which were prepared by the Friends team of volunteers for this special occasion. Read the article here

Photo © Philip Benham


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Capt Bill Smith, the first Honorary Life Member of the Friends donated his Great Northern Railway locomotive 1247 to the NRM in 1980.  Here volunteers and staff are busy lavishing attention on their new arrival. Read the article here                     

Photo: NRM



Limited edition print sales contribution from Richard Lucraft to the Friends Duchess Restoration Appeal. Read the article here 

Duchess of Hamilton on Shap - painting by Terence Cuneo


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National collection locomotives were serviced at the NRM to enable a regular summer steam service to be operated.  To enable this to happen, the FNRM paid for two fitters to be employed to ensure the steam locomotives were in excellent condition for these special days out.  FNRM volunteers also sold mementoes on trains to help fund the operation.  Read the story here

British Rail poster advertising the Scarborough Spa Express.  Photo: NRM collection SSPL


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Working replica of Stephenson’s 1829 original ROCKET.  Read the article here


Photo © Philip Benham



LMS Coronation Class 6229 Duchess of Hamilton - leased from Butlins and restored for main line operation between 1980 - 85. Read the article here 

 Photo: Ian Smith

We are always grateful for donations, endowments and bequests of any size - any gift makes a difference.  As a charity, our income enables us to care for Britain's Railway heritage and to benefit all.

For more information, or to make a donation, please email us

You can click on the donate icon here, to donate online.

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