The latest news from Friends & the National Railway Museum


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Picture: 1883 Moreton-in-Marsh signal box


The FARSAP signalling film archive now boasts 163 films of UK signalling locations. There are also 33 more films covering explanations of signalling technology, staff reminiscences and events. After seven years of filming there’s still more to come. The FARSAP team has worked with Network Rail to film the wide range of British signalling practices, equipment and buildings with the people doing the job at a time of major change. All these films are free to view. You’ll still be able to see and hear how it was done in the days before Rail Operating Centres came along.  Manual signal boxes, crossings and power boxes are all covered. Commentaries helpfully explain the history, locations, routes, the equipment and what’s going on.    

In the words of Network Rail, it’s a “valuable and comprehensive record”. It’s popular too with the signalling community who have welcomed their bit of signalling history being recorded. Whether it’s for those in training, enthusiasts, modellers or family historians, there’s masses of fascinating and valuable information. Simply search online for “FARSAP” to see the full collection.  

Recent circumstances have understandably slowed down the project. But fear not! The team are still working on filming and editing. Coming soon will be new films covering London Transport and the Middlesbrough and Perth areas. We’re still hoping to film the rare Midland Railway signalling on the Leicester to Peterborough route. The FARSAP archive is already extensive – it can only get even better!  

                                             SMG PRESS RELEASE

From wonderous mechanical creations  springing to life and turning your body into a machine, to toy making and lifting a mini, there’s a perfect day out at the Science and Industry Museum this winter. This festive period, discover the charming final work of Rowland Emett, the creator of the inventions of ‘Caractacus Potts’ in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and enjoy playful machines of all shapes and sizes through hands on activities and shows - alongside a whole host of family favourites. 

From 24 November to April 2022 the last work by one of Britain’s best loved artists and sculptors, Rowland Emett,will be on display in Manchester for the first time in the Science and Industry Museum’s Textiles gallery.


Constructed in 1984, the unique moving sculpture named ‘A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley’ was saved for the UK after being purchased for the Science Museum Group Collection with support from Art Fund, the Science Museum Foundation, the Friends of the National Railway Museum and private donors.

Visitors will be able to see two scenes from the fantastical work of art telling the story of a journey aboard the imaginary ‘Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway,’ based on one of his cartoons.

The two scenes – Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway featuring the ‘Wild Goose’ locomotive, and Oyster Creek - will come to life twice a day at 11.30am and 2pm. Visitors will be treated to  cogs whirring and characters toasting teacakes  and catching butterflies and can also discover what this whimsical sculpture has in common with the museum’s thundering textiles machinery.



Readers might enjoy A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley by Russ Rollings 

Picture: Jason Hynes, Science Museum Group

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Newly redisplayed and lit Rocket on display at the National Railway Museum. Now appreciated as the world treasure it truly is. 

Robert Stephenson’s 0-2-2 locomotive Rocket from the Science Museum Group Collection.

Manufactured in 1829 by Robert Stephenson and Company in Newcastle, close to today’s Newcastle Central railway station, Rocket won the famous Rainhill Trials to become the fastest locomotive of its time thanks to its innovative design.

This 3D model of Rocket was produced using 22 high resolution LIDAR scans and over 2,500 detailed photographs taken in May 2018. More information on how the Science Museum Group worked with ScanLAB to create the model can be found in the Science Museum Group Digital Lab website.

"There have been at least nine full size replicas of Rocket, including one commissioned by Henry Ford and now on display in the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan, USA. But only the National Railway Museum has the original, now on display at York, together with two of the replicas. One is a working locomotive that steams from time to time, while another is partly sectioned to show how the locomotive worked"

Philip Benham

Photo: courtesy Anthony Coulls

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NRM the world’s railway museum!

Central Hall, part of the wider York Central development, will feature a gallery showcasing the latest innovations in rail technology, a cafe overlooking the new museum square, a shop, an event space and new visitor facilities.

It will also include a new ‘Wonderlab’, aimed at inspiring children to think like engineers using interactive exhibits and games.

The environmentally-friendly design will feature electric vehicle charging points and cycle racks.

NRM director Judith McNicol said: “Central Hall is just one aspect of our journey to embed our museum in the heart of our community. 

“We are excited to share the latest plans for the new building, which follow the principles agreed in the outline permission for the wider York Central site. 

“It’s really important that we gather feedback at this early stage in the process so that the plans can evolve to offer as many benefits to our neighbourhood and to our visitors as possible.”

An exhibition will be on show at the museum for 10 days, starting on Monday, October 25, alongside a virtual consultation.

Feilden Fowles is the architect on the project, having won a UK-wide competition in 2020.

Greg Dyke, chairman of Make It York and York Central Strategic Board said: “The improvements to the National Railway Museum, through the Central Hall project, will enhance York’s cultural development and provide a catalyst to the whole economy of the city and beyond.

Pictures: courtesy NRM



CrossCountry announces its renewed corporate partnership with the National Railway Museum.

The partnership provides opportunities to work together towards the museum’s Vision 2025, to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation of engineers, innovators and thinkers. The National Railway Museum is committed to highlighting the work of today's railway network, as seen in the recent Railway Heroes exhibition showcasing railway workers who gave back to their communities—and country—during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vision 2025 is a six-year journey to transform the National Railway Museum, York, and Locomotion in Shildon into the ‘World’s Railway Museum’ by becoming a global engineering powerhouse and a space to celebrate the past, present and future of railway.

Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum, said: “I am thrilled that CrossCountry has committed to supporting the National Railway Museum once again. The support of our partners will allow us to achieve our aspiration to become the World's Railway Museum through the transformational Vision 2025 masterplan.”  

Anna Weeks, North East & Scotland Regional Director at CrossCountry Trains said: “We are delighted to be renewing our partnership with the National Railway Museum to show our support towards Vision 2025 and help inspire the engineers and railway employees of the future.”

Railway Heroes 

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FREE EXHIBITION available online and at the Museum, this exhibition showcases a collection of interviews  with a handful of the railway workers who have helped get key workers to and from their jobs and given back to their communities - and country - during the Covid19 pandemic. 

To enjoy the online exhibition you can jump in and read the full story or select an individual to read about their experiences.

Some of the benefits of becoming a Friend of the National Railway Museum include discounts on the Museum’s shops, restaurants and car park. Find out more about becoming a Friend here


National Railway Museum transfers 'Handyman' to Statfold Narrow Gauge Museum Trust

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Industrial 3ft narrow-gauge locomotive Handyman has joined the Statfold Narrow Gauge Museum Trust following a permanent transfer from the Science Museum Group.

The locomotive travelled to the museum near Tamworth by road from the National Railway Museum in York, ready for public display in time for the museum’s Enthusiast Weekend: Trangkil 50 event on 12 and 13 June.  

Handyman is a 3ft gauge 0-4-0 saddle tank built in 1900 by Hudswell Clarke in Leeds for the Burton Ironstone Company in Northamptonshire. It is an example of the many thousands of small industrial steam locomotives that worked on privately owned railway systems at factories, mines and industrial sites all around the country.

The locomotive spent its operational life moving ironstone at quarries across the East Midlands before ending up at Scaldwell Quarry which ceased operations in 1963.

Handyman was bought by a group of enthusiasts who saved it from being scrapped, but the locomotive was never fully restored and was eventually acquired by the National Railway Museum in 2008 to feature in a proposed display on railway construction.

However, this project did not progress to completion and without this focus, Handyman’s purpose at the museum was already covered by the similar, although standard-gauge, industrial locomotive Bauxite which remains in the Science Museum Group Collection. Although it joined the collection, Handyman was not designated by the Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board.

Handyman was listed for transfer by the Science Museum Group in June 2020 along with 15 other items from the collection. After completing an application to receive the locomotive, which was then assessed for suitability, the Science Museum Group’s Board of Trustees approved the transfer of Handyman to Statfold Narrow Gauge Museum Trust. Handyman joins the museum and heritage railway’s extensive collection of more than 30 narrow-gauge locomotives.

Statfold railway and museum is home to the old Burton to Ashby Tram and one of the largest collections of narrow-gauge historic steam, diesel and electric locomotives in the country.

Henry Noon, Trustee Statfold Narrow Gauge Museum Trust, said: “We are delighted to have Handyman at the Statfold Narrow Gauge Museum Trust. Not only does it add to our Hunslet and Hudswell Clarke theme it also adds to the narrow-gauge story being told in our dedicated Narrow-Gauge Museum, being our only 3` gauge locomotive. Handyman will now undergo a thorough cosmetic restoration to the same standard we applied with “Hodbarrow”.”

Andrew McLean, Assistant Director and Head Curator of the National Railway Museum, said: “This is a very positive development which will restart the restoration of Handyman which given the amount of work required and the resources available, would not be a viable project for the National Railway Museum. Transferring the locomotive to a new owner in a more appropriate setting, will ensure it can be restored and returned to public display for people to enjoy.”

Forgotten 'Ordnance Railway' to be celebrated with new plaque 


A plaque commemorating York's 'Ordnance Railway' is to be officially unveiled at the weekend. 

The short length of track beside the River Ouse was once used to transport munitions to the Ordnance Depot between what is now Ordnance Lane and Hospital Fields Road from a wharf on New Walk. They were unloaded by a small crane after being brought from Woolwich Arsenal on the schooner Princess.

Last uncovered when the Millennium Bridge was being built, the tracks were uncovered again in April by a team of volunteers from Goodgym, working with the Friends of New Walk.

The Friends, together with the Fishergate, Fulford and Heslington local history society, have now won a small grant from Fishergate ward councillors to help pay for a plaque. It will be unveiled at 4pm on Saturday by former National Railway Museum director Andrew Scott. Social distancing measures will be in place for the unveiling. 

Image. York Press. Volunteers uncovering the ‘Ordnance Railway’ at New Walk in April

World record-breaking engine arrives at Locomotion in Shildon 


Porterbrook, the rolling stock owner and asset manager, has today announced the donation of record breaking HST power car 43102 to the National Railway Museum.

The donation builds on Porterbrook’s ‘Gold’ partnership with the National Railway Museum which will see both organisations focus on inspiring the next generation of young engineers, as well as showcasing how the railway can become more accessible and sustainable.

Judith McNicol, Director of The National Railway Museum, said: “The National Railway Museum is proud to have a strong and established relationship with Porterbrook, who have previously joined forces with us on projects such as Future Engineers, Rail Fest and the overhaul of Flying Scotsman. Porterbrook continue to work with us to engage our visitors, and in particular young people.”

Membership to Friends of the NRM


  • Opportunities to travel on steam specials all over the country (eg Flying Scotsman) with our on-board sales trolley

  • Discounts in the Museum’s shops, restaurants and car park

  • Annual trips to overseas railway museums and railway-related attractions 

  • A quarterly magazine, NRM Review, which carries information relating to the Museum and articles on a variety of railway topics (with a supplement, Half Fare, for younger members)

  • The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts more than 700,000 visitors per year.

  • The National Railway Museum’s vast art collection comprises over 11,000 posters, 2,300 prints and drawings, 1,000 paintings, and 1,750,000 photographs.

Things to do in York - National Railway Museum | Visit York | UK Travel Vlog. Emma Spears

Throughout 2021 Climate Talks, a series of panel discussions, Q&As and events exploring the problems caused by climate change

Climate change is an urgent threat that will require all of us—governments, businesses and civil society—to take action. But how can consumer behaviour make a difference, and how can businesses make it easier for consumers to live more sustainably? Speakers: Rajiv Joshi William Higham Veronica Bates Kassatly Professor Peter Wadhams Angela Saini (Chair) Thank you for watching. Your support makes events like this happen. As we emerge from the pandemic we need your support now more than ever. We will continue our mission to ignite curiosity through thought-provoking and inspiring virtual events and talks just like this one. Your help large or small will make a huge difference – thank you. You can donate to the museum here: https://bit.ly/3i82ICH

Friends of the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum 

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What Sierra Leone now has are the assets with which to build a museum unlike any other.


A museum that will educate people who have never seen or heard a train. A museum that will provide jobs and skills transfer to people in Sierra Leone learning from a global commiunity. A museum that will remind people of their nation's shared heritage; a railway that joined up people's lives from coast to mountain plain. A museum that will bring joy. A museum that will help kickstart investment to this, one of the poorest countries on Earth. Against all odds, the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum is an engine for growth, and the world now needs to stoke its fire.


To make this happen, we need YOU to join us on our incredible journey.

Read about our plans or get involved today.


Read Friends of the Sierra Leone news letter here

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Opening of London Bridge Signal Box 1976


Frank Paterson MBE. Meeting Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

FP (DGM) and Reg Peat SR CS&TE

At one stage in the visit a technician started to explain what a piece of new equipment did and HRH interrupted him and said 'oh yes - I saw this last year when I opened Preston SignalBox].

We were all suitably impressed!! 

Bob Reid was GM and we had lunch with the Duke  in the Charing Cross Hotel. He had chosen the menu with asparagus as the starter. Obviously we waited for him to start and were amused when he just picked up a stick with his fingers, dipped it into the ramekin of melted butter, and then into his mouth. 

A memorable day.


Frank joined the railways straight from school as a junior clerk and ended up in charge of a third of them. He ran the network stretching over 18 counties from the Thames to the Tweed from his York headquarters. The two most significant accomplishments during Frank's  time in charge were the introduction of the high speed train, the 125 and the electrification of the East Coast main line, approved in 1984. 

Frank is the President of Friends of the National Railway Museum. 

Inside Mallard, the World's Fastest Steam Locomotive | Curator with a Camera

Curator Bob Gwynne tells the story of Mallard, an innovative locomotive whose greatest claim to fame is the top speed it achieved on an infamous run down Stoke Bank on the East Coast Main Line. Hitting 126mph made it the world's fastest steam-powered locomotive, a title it still holds today. Join Bob as he shows you around—and inside—one of the stars of our collection which is enduringly popular with our visitors thanks to its beautiful design and striking Garter Blue colour scheme. Bob also tells us what it was like trying to achieve a world speed record in a steam locomotive, which is not the most straightforward of tasks. To find out more about the National Railway Museum, visit our website: https://www.railwaymuseum.org.uk/

A Lady to Remember!

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Picture: NRM

Dame Margaret Weston. The many obituaries in the national press didn't mention her encouragement and strong support for the Friends of the National Railway Museum. She was one of the original life members in 1977.

The photograph was taken at York on 28th September 1985 when she named HST power car 43038 National Railway Museum.

The First Ten Years 1975-1985.  Dame Margaret is centre stage flanked by right to left, Lord Downe, Chair of the NRM Advisory Board - W.O.(Bill) Reynolds, Chairman of FNRM - Dr John Coiley, Head of NRM. Frank Paterson, General Manager, BR Eastern Region. The previous day 43038 created the record breaking run of the Tyne Tees Pullman from Newcastle to London Kings Cross, 269 miles in 2hours 19 minutes 37 seconds at an average speed of 115.4mph.

HST Inter City 125 - Tees Tyne Pullman - Record Breaking Run 1985

You may not know his name but you've almost certainly used one of this products. From fountain pens and parking meters to pint glasses and alarm clocks, the work of Sir Kenneth Grange helped shape the modern world. Discover the wonderful world of design and explore the Science Museum Group's Collection through his extraordinary work.

The National Railway Museum’s Station Hall, a former goods depot and now home to the national collection of original royal carriages, is set to receive a £500,000 refurbishment, thanks to the Friends of the National Railway Museum

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Philip Benham, chairman of the Friends of the National Railway Museum and Charlotte Kingston head of interpretation and design.

National Railway Museum announces plans for the refurbishment of Station Hall, it will involve a new permanent exhibition as well as physical improvements to the condition of the Grade-II listed building. The situation has changed slightly in terms of guidance for wearing facemasks inside. National Railway Museum’s Station Hall to Receive Royal Restoration £500,000 refurbishment of York’s Grade II-listed Station Hall announced. The National Railway Museum’s Station Hall, a former goods depot and now home to the national collection of original royal carriages, is set to receive a £500,000 refurbishment, thanks to the Friends of the National Railway Museum. The charity organisation which supports the work of the museum, has raised £300,000 from members to develop and refresh Station Hall’s permanent exhibition, which is housed inside the historic, Grade II-listed building. A working depot until the 1970s, Station Hall is home to six royal carriages, including one of the museums most popular attractions - Queen Victoria’s original 1869 saloon. The project will redisplay the carriages into complete royal trains matched with period locomotives. A new addition to the hall will be class 47 locomotive, Prince William, one of a select number of locomotives to have hauled the current royal train.

Due to start in Spring 2021, the exhibition refresh will see an estimated 200 new collection items and 25 rail vehicles go on display. Work is scheduled to be complete by 2022, subject to wider Vision 2025 and York Central activity. Alongside the new display, the Science Museum Group will also provide £200,000 to complete physical improvements to Station Hall’s roof and walls. Charlotte Kingston, Head of Interpretation and Design, said: “I am hugely grateful to the Friends of the National Railway Museum who have enabled us to create an exciting permanent exhibition which will inform and inspire future generations. “Station Hall is very popular with our visitors and our changes will be impactful but sympathetic, using new collection items and railway stories to bring the railways to life, while retaining the character of the original building.” Philip Benham, chairman of the Friends of the National Railway Museum, said: “I am delighted that the Friends are the principal funder of this important project. Over the years we have contributed more than £1.5m towards some 60 museum projects, but this is one of the most significant yet. Stations are where passengers first meet the railway, and the scene for many individual encounters and dramas. The Friends are excited to have this opportunity to help the museum tell their important story anew, together with the equally vital stories of the men and women who worked at stations, or simply passed through them.”

Read the full latest NRM update here.

Despite the recent changes in the Government’s coronavirus restrictions, the National Railway Museum at both York and Shildon (Locomotion) remain open. Normal opening each week will be daily from Wednesday to Sunday, although additional Monday and Tuesday opening may occur at holiday times. Some restrictions on hours and facilities available may continue to be in force for the time being. While admission remains free, it is still necessary to book an entrance ticket on line in advance. More information, including how to book, can be found on the National Railway Museum website.


The Friends office is open, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 09.00 - 15.30.

If you need to contact us please do so by email or phone 01904 636874.


Thank you for your continued patience.

Best wishes,


Philip Benham

Chairman, Friends of the National Railway Museum

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Philip Benham, Chairman

Friends of the National Railway Museum

Message from our chairman. The Impact of the Coronavirus 03/12/2021