The latest news from Friends & the National Railway Museum


    • DATE: Saturday 18 June 2022

    • TIME: 11.00 and 13.00

    • DURATION: 60 mins

Join experts at the National Railway Museum to discover the ways emerging ideas are transforming our future railways and learn more about driverless public transport.

This summer, the National Railway Museum will launch Innovation Platform, a brand-new exhibition highlighting emerging ideas and extraordinary achievements from the rail industry’s leading research and development departments.

Over a two-year period, the museum will exhibit a series of cutting-edge technologies. The first object on display will ask audiences to consider the impact of driverless vehicles in future public transport.

Book your free guided tour offered as part of the York Festival of Ideas and discuss the themes of the exhibition with the project’s lead curator and members of the University of York’s Assuring Autonomy International Programme.

This is a fantastic opportunity to discover how present ideas are transforming our future railways.

Museum opening times Monday – Sunday, 10.00–17.00

Completing my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award with Locomotion by James Waine

Locomotion Youth Team - James, Luke and James

Over the past 18 months, I have been lucky enough to complete the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award with the help of the team at Locomotion. I wanted to share a little bit about what I have done with the museum.

When I first inquired about volunteering at Locomotion, there were no youth volunteers and through the time I have been with the museum, we have begun to develop a youth team. I have had the amazing opportunity to help shape what this team looks like and it has given me the opportunity to take on a variety of tasks progressing a wide range of skills. Alongside my youth team peers, we have not only been able to work with visitors on the museum floor helping with engagement activities, but we have also had the opportunity to take on some projects as a team.

We have been involved in a local community project through the Landscape Partnership Programme Discover Brightwater, working alongside artists to create cyanotype artwork activities for our visitors. Most excitingly, we got to help organise and run an event, Loco Lates: The Golden Age. A first in a series of Loco Lates evening events we are hoping to run at the museum. This was a fantastic experience, and it was a very proud moment when we had completed it.

Along with the volunteering work I have completed at Locomotion, I also played the violin in the Tees Valley Youth Orchestra and rowed for my school as part of completing the skill and physical sections of the Duke of Edinburgh respectively. I also got to go on a 2-day, self-sustainable walking and camping expedition in the North Yorkshire Moors - a great, although tiring, experience and a memory I will never forget. I would urge anyone under 25 to go out and get involved in one of the three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. I have learnt so many new skills, met lots of new people and have overall developed as a person thanks to taking part - it is truly an incredible experience.

Join us at Locomotion to complete your volunteering section as you will get so many different experiences as part of your work here and everyone is incredibly friendly. If you are under 25 years old, I would very much like to invite you to join us in the Locomotion Youth Team. Looking ahead into the future, we have many exciting plans as a youth team so it is the perfect time to join. Following on from successfully completing the Bronze award, I am moving on to complete the Gold award with the museum.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Locomotion Youth Team or getting involved, contact Eileen Atkins, Engagement and Programming Manager eileen.atkins@locomotion.org.uk 

What's On at National Railway Museum


Discover the World's Fastest Steam Locomotive

This powerful, aerodynamic masterpiece rocketed to 126mph in 1938, a steam speed record that was never surpassed.

You can experience Mallard up close, in all its glory, when you visit the museum.


    • DATE: On display now

    • LOCATION: Great Hall

Learning at the National Railway Museum
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Discover what you can see and do on a visit and fill in the online form to request a school visit.

The options available for schools have changed, so before you request a visit, make sure you read all of the information on what to see and do on the visit page.

Find out more here

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Picture: 1883 Moreton-in-Marsh signal box

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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!  


Explore the issues around diversity and inclusion in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) in Open Talk—a new series of online talks sharing the untold stories of science.

Open Talk will connect you with an international line up of cultural figures, scientists, authors and policy makers exploring themes including race and identity, unconscious bias in tech and inequality in STEM.

Sign up to Locomotion newsletter to be the first to hear more.


    • DATE: Available online now

    • LOCATION: Online 

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National Railway Museum 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.

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.

Revolutionaries is a philanthropic initiative which brings together visionary donors to the National Railway Museum in support of Vision 2025

Judith McNicol, director of the National Railway Museum, York - Credit: Charlotte Graham

This exclusive group is united by a common goal to be at the forefront of change, inspiring the next generation of pioneers, innovators and engineers. 

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to join a circle of distinguished figures and philanthropists and make Vision 2025 a reality through the transformation of the National Railway Museum and Locomotion. 

“We have a clear mission; to inspire the engineer and innovators of tomorrow. By making the world’s greatest railway collection accessible and relevant for all, we can sow the seeds of future rail ingenuity.”
Judith McNicol, Director, National Railway Museum

Become a part of our evolution, being the first to experience out major milestones as we embark upon our journey towards Vision 2025.

To find out more please contact:

Abi Cattley, Senior Development Manager

CALL: 01904 929525
EMAIL: abigail.cattley@railwaymuseum.org.uk

Railway Heroes 

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.


"The community has really come together from different backgrounds and cultures, faith and no faith. That’s what has kept people going".

Hussain Master

From steam spectaculars to exciting learning activities, Locomotion has something for everyone. Keep on eye on Locomotion's social media channels for more information Facebook or Twitter
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See construction brought to life and get hands-on with Meccano at this fantastic free event. Explore displays of a wide range of Meccano models—static, mechanised and remote-controlled. Then have a go yourself in the hands-on modelling area, where you’ll have the chance to make your own creation using plastic Meccano.

This year, there’s a competition to find the best model!

This event is presented in association with the North Eastern Meccano Society, who also provided the header image—a member's model of the 2023 Stadler Tyne and Wear Metro train.


Locomotion expect this to be a popular event, so you'll need to book your free Meccano Magic tickets in advance. This will give you an arrival time slot—they recommend allowing 90 minutes for a visit, but you are welcome to stay until the museum closes.


    • DATE: 28–29 May 2022

    • TIME: 10.00–17.00

    • LOCATION: Collection Building

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

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

From Athens to Andromeda: When Ancient Greece Looked to the Stars. How did ancient Greek thinkers influence modern astronomy? And how did ancient Greek astronomy shape ideas around humanity’s place in the universe?   Speakers include: Professor Andrew Gregory Dr Jo Marchant Dr Magdalini Anastasiou Sarah Cruddas (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 

 Friends of Sierra Leona National Railway Museum 

Honorary President Col. Steve Davies MBE

Honorary Patron Mr. Kamal Nassar, Sierra Construction Systems


With the major changes to the UK’s Red List on 4th October 2021, we were finally able to make plans for a visit to Sierra Leone and managed to get flights with Air France at a reasonable affordable price, provided we returned to the UK before the end of November (the price escalates from 1st December onwards because of the volume of disapora travelling at Christmas). Travel was somewhat more complicated this year, given the extraf rom-filling and Covid19 testing that had to be completed, but nevertheless we were excited to get there again after almost two years!


We flew from Manchester, with little problem other than a delay in take-off because the extra burden of vaccine and test-checking meant that checkin was much longer than usual, which had not been compensated by earlier opening or more staff.  The transfer at Paris was a nightmare, largely due to the inefficiency of Aeroports de Paris and the confusion over where our plane had actually landed on arrival from South America.  Arriving about an hour and a half later at Freetown Lungi, we were impressed by the speed and efficiency of the transfer.  The bus bringing us from the aeroplane to the terminal building picked up some twenty passengers at a time, allowing for social distancing (unlike Paris wher distancing was impossible), and we were through passport control in a matter of minutes.  On to baggage claim, where our bright pink and red suitcases were very easy to spot, and then direct to the Covid19 testing point, where we did both a lateral flow and a PCR test. As out lateral flow tests were negative, we were released to find the ferry to Freetown and to retire to our accommodation, where we were to isolsate until the results of our PCR tests were uploaded onto the travel portal. 

For the return trip, we paid the premium price for our Covid19 PCR tests, which meant that the health worker visited us at home to take the swab and our results were uploaded in less than 48 hours.  The efficiency of this service meant that we were relieved of the stress of wondering whether our results would be available before we were due to fly.

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All of these precautions have clearly paid off, since the incidence of Covid19 has remained extremely low in Sierra Leone, and almost all restrictions have now been removed.  However, vaccination take-up is still relatively low as many people are suspicious of the side-effects and afraid of being made sick.


The most unfortunate effect of the pandemic in Sierra Leone is the further weakening of the economy and the high rate of inflation, which is putting stresses and strains on all aspects of daily life for most Sierra Leoneans.  The exchange rate now stands at almost 15,000 Leones to the British Pound, which is great for us, but not so good for a country that relies almost exclusively on imported goods.


Many of you will have heard the news of the NP tanker explosion at Wellington, on 5th November, the death toll of which is unknown, but which had reached 144 by the time we left.  I was very distrubed to know that the news had reached the UK as quickly as it reached us in Freetown – the UK media only ever pickup bad news stories from Sierra Leone and never issue any positive report.  Happliy, none of the Museum team or Friends was directly affected by the fire, but it has left many people homeless and mounring the loss of their families.

Find out more here


Helen Ashby                                                                                                                     


Experience the museum’s past as a bustling railway works with the atmospheric new audio trail.

Sound Tracks reveals the long and surprising history of the NRM site, connecting you with people from the past who worked here and highlighting the thought-provoking stories around every corner.

The audio tour immerses you in the atmosphere of ten locations, exploring stories including Great Hall’s time as a busy engine shed, the impact of a Second-World-War bombing raid, the sights and sounds of Station Hall in its days as a goods depot, and the contribution of women workers on the railways. 

The trail is accessible for free via your smartphone. Please note headphones are not provided. Visitors are welcome to listen to the trail with or without headphones.


The laboratory on wheels that recorded Mallard's speed record | Curator with a Camera

Join curator Bob Gwynne as he shows you around an incredible railway carriage packed with fascinating equipment that was used to record the speed, power and other information about how a steam locomotive is running. Situated behind Mallard in the museum's Great Hall, this dynamometer car is the fastest surviving steam-hauled railway carriage in the world. It documented two of the most important record-breaking moments in railway history—Mallard's never-beaten 126mph run in 1938 and Flying Scotsman's 100mph peak in 1934.


To find out more about the National Railway Museum, visit here 

Amp up the G-force and conquer gravity in the outdoor play area.

Younger visitors can blow off steam during a fun-filled day out at the museum. Navigate the heights of our rope climb, test your strength on the monkey bars and take a whirl on the spinner.

Find the outdoor play area in South Yard next to the Miniature Railway.

Under-5s can also have a blast at our indoor play area in Great Hall


    • DATE: Open

    • LOCATION: South Yard

    • AGE: Over-5s

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.

The National Railway Museums at both York and Shildon (Locomotion) are open each week from Wednesday to Sunday, with additional Monday and Tuesday opening at holiday times. Admission is free, but to save time on arrival  both museums recommend that you book your entrance tickets in advance. More information, including how to book, can be found on the National Railway Museum website.


The Friends of the National Railway Museum exists to support the two museums and to engender interest in the history and future development of railways. In the past two years alone we have committed over half a million pounds towards museum projects, including being the principal funders of a major planned transformation of Station Hall – one of the two main exhibition sites at York. We are also contributing to the new Vision 2025 project – the most dramatic and extensive re-development in the Museum’s history involving work at both York and Locomotion.  By becoming a Friend you will receive our highly regarded quarterly magazine ‘Review’ and a range of benefits when you visit the museum. You will also be supporting the world’s greatest railway museum.  So if you are proud of our railway heritage, and excited about the future of rail travel, why not become a Friend?

Find out more here about about joining us. 


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.

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    30/04/22