The latest news from Friends & the National Railway Museum


Narrow-gauge locomotive to be restored at Staffordshire-based railway and museum.

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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.”

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Flying Scotsman is back after a pandemic-struck 2020—come and see this legendary loco at Locomotion

Flying Scotsman goes on display at Locomotion for three weeks from Wednesday 28 July 2021. A general museum admission ticket is required for all Flying Scotsman activities—book your free ticket here


York's 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

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Welcome back to the National Railway Museum giant locomotives


Make sure you book your free admission ticket before visiting here 

Escape your home and dive into the past, present and future of the railways. Meet world-changing inventions like Rocket and come face-to-face with the fastest steam locomotive in the world.

In partnership with the National Tourist Organisations of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Friends and the NRM have followed government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, ensuring processes are in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social/physical distancing.  


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.”

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

   FULL MEMBERSHIP 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.

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In the words of Network Rail, it’s a “valuable and comprehensive record”, popular too with the signalling community who have welcomed their bit of signalling history being recorded. Apart from the national railway and heritage locations covered, the archive also includes a further 36 films with explanatory signalling demonstrations and signallers’ personal memories. Simply search for “FARSAP” to see the collection.

Read the full Press Release here

Picture: courtesy Mike Peart 

1883 Moreton-in-Marsh signal box

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Join the National Railway Museum throughout 2021 for Climate Talks, a series of panel discussions, Q&As and events exploring the problems caused by climate change

Hear leading scientists and environmental journalists explore the many aspects of carbon capture, including reforestation and rewilding as well as a range of industrial methods.

As well as reducing our CO2 emissions, capturing carbon from the atmosphere could be another way to limit climate change.

The NRM's future vision is to transform our museums through the 2025 redevelopment project. To engage future generations through the wonder of engineering on the railways, be apart of this, become a Friend of the 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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Environmental sustainability is embedded throughout Vision 2025, our five-year redevelopment. Transforming former industrial areas into new green spaces, reusing existing infrastructure, and building using natural materials. Exploring alternative heating systems, capturing rainwater, making better use of natural daylight, and more. All of this will support our groupwide goal of becoming a net zero organisation. Pictures: NRM. 


Opening of London Bridge Signal Box 1976

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 Paterson  

President, Friends of the National Railway Museum

Frank Paterson meeting Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Curator with a Camera with Anthony Coulls NRM

Matthew Parris in 14th April Times

125 reasons to grieve.

The last InterCity 125 trains are to be withdrawn from service on the East Midlands Railway next month. After almost half a century these are still the best way in Britain to travel by train. The carriages feel spacious and airy. The seats are soft. The windows are big. The corridor feels wider. And because the locomotives are at each end, something close to silence reigns for passengers, the noise of the engines being (as used to be the case with steam trains) lost in the wind outside. Travelling to London I’ve taken the 07.05 from Derby to St Pancras purely because it’s often a 125 — and quite often pulled by the very locomotives that established the world record for a diesel train (148mph) 34 years ago. They’ve recently been repainted in their old British Rail livery, as a mark of respect. Give me a moment to grieve.

Journey home for cherished locomotive. Press Release from the National Railway Museum

Doncaster built locomotive Green Arrow to go on display at Doncaster’s new Danum Gallery, Library and Museum.

The pioneering Green Arrow has rolled back into Doncaster almost 75 years on since it left the famous Doncaster Plant Works.

Thanks to a partnership between the National Railway Museum and Doncaster Council, Green Arrow completes the line-up of locomotives in Danum Gallery, Library and Museum by joining No. 251 in a superb new rail heritage centre.

Together with an array of rare artefacts from the famous Doncaster Grammar School Railway Collection and other fascinating rail exhibits, the rail heritage centre will be a ‘must be seen’ exhibition when the building opens later this year, subject to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Built in 1936 at Doncaster Works, Green Arrow was the first of the V2 class locomotives to be built and it is the last surviving British 2-6-2 tender locomotive. It continued service through the nationalisation of the railways and was eventually withdrawn from British Railways service in 1962.

Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley the V2 class was derived from the Class A1/A3 Pacifics. Construction of V2 class locomotives continued between 1936 and 1944 despite the impact of World War Two. Their reputation as a versatile and powerful locomotive was enhanced by their haulage during the war.

Following its withdrawal in 1962, Green Arrow was selected for preservation and eventually returned to working order in 1972. It steamed, on and off, until 2008 when its boiler certificate expired.

Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said: “The incredibly popular Green Arrow, together with the No. 251 locomotive, will spearhead a remarkable display of our great railway heritage, with many enthralling items going on public display for the very first time. They tell a compelling story of the golden age of steam and the major contribution Doncaster has made to the rail industry.

“In March, we plan a special online preview of Danum Gallery, Library and Museum to give people a taste of what they can experience once it’s right for us to open the building. It will be a community asset packed with cutting edge services and local and national collections of significance and importance.

“It’s a great achievement to have delivered this public building during these difficult economic times and signals our intent and ambition for Doncaster. It will be a joy to behold.”

Cllr Nigel Ball, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure and Culture, said: “Doncaster has taken express delivery of Green Arrow, a truly great locomotive loved and respected by hordes of people up and down the country. Having worked at Doncaster Plant in the past I look at Green Arrow and the other rail exhibits with great fondness. Our heritage is a treasure we must remember by sharing our many great achievements with residents and visitors.

“Danum Gallery, Library and Museum will be a great attraction and a place people can reminisce, explore, learn and much more besides. We want local people to aim for the stars and this community hub will help them do just that.”

Andrew McLean, Assistant Director and Head Curator at the National Railway Museum, said: “We are thrilled to be working alongside Doncaster Council to share the story of this fascinating locomotive. In the longer term we still see an operational future for Green Arrow, as outlined in our operational vehicle strategy. But for now to see this locomotive to return to where it was built will be a sight to behold.”

Another key element of the new rail heritage centre is the Doncaster Grammar School Railway Collection. It started in the 1930s when pupils and teachers at the school, now Hall Cross Academy, set up a railway society.

As the years went by, the members created one of the biggest and most important collections of its kind packed with signs, nameplates, lamps, signal posts and thousands of other rail related gems.

They were moved from Hall Cross Academy in 2020 and are now archived in the former Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery. A selection of this remarkable collection will feature in Danum Gallery, Library and Museum and will be regularly refreshed to bring more historical items into the public gaze.

Chris Barron, speaking on behalf of the Trustees of the Doncaster Grammar School Railway Collection, said: “This is the culmination of what we have worked on for several years. The new rail heritage centre gives the opportunity for everyone to see this unique and important collection for the first time. We have been grateful that Hall Cross Academy has continued to house the collection for over 70 years but the problem was that few people ever got to see it.

“Although we can only display a small fraction of the entire catalogue, in partnership with Heritage Doncaster, we will be able to rotate the displays on a regular basis. This collaboration between the Council and the National Railway Museum means two great Doncaster-built engines will provide a great setting for these treasures. Our aim is to make this Centre a recognised place of discovery for railway heritage, something that has been missing from this railway town for too long.”

The rail heritage centre will appeal to rail enthusiasts, historians and anyone wanting to gain an insight into rail and the vital role Doncaster has played over the years and continues to do so today.

The locomotives will remain part of the national collection and will be loaned to the museum as static exhibits for an initial three-year period. During this period another locomotive from the National Collection will take the place of Green Arrow, alongside No.251. The move was carried out under social distancing and following Covid-19 guidance.

Green Arrow travelled to Doncaster by road from Locomotion in Shildon where a team of specialist conservators and rail operations staff physically manoeuvred the historic locomotive into place over a period of 48 hours.

Both engines have taken several months of preparation and over a 1,000 hours of conservation from collection services, rail operations, engineering, and the volunteers at Locomotion. This work included corrosion treatment, a deep clean and sensitively repainting areas of paint loss by colour matching the livery. This information including an inventory of all parts of the locomotive such as the gauge glasses, lubrication pots and the whistles which have also been recorded onto the National Railway Museum object database.

The Friends of Doncaster Museum have assisted in the loan of the locomotives and their continued hard work and contributions to the Museum are very much appreciated.

More information is available here 

About LNER 2-6-2 V2 Class No. 4771 'Green Arrow'

• V2 class 2-6-2 No 4771 "Green Arrow" was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, built at Doncaster in 1936 and withdrawn in 1962.

• Green Arrow was the first V2 locomotive to be built at Doncaster Works and was named for the Freight train it was built for.

• 184 V2 class locomotives were built between 1936 and 1944 at the Doncaster and Darlington Works, with construction continuing despite World War Two.

• In the end the V2 class locomotives were widely used for express passenger trains.

• The V2 class was derived from the Class A1/A3 Pacifics but had smaller driving wheels and a shorter boiler. Many standard features were built into the locomotives, including the conjugated valve gear for the three cylinders.

About the National Railway Museum

• The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts more than 750,000 visitors per year

• The collection includes over 260 locomotives and rolling stock, 600 coins and medals as well as railway uniform and costume, equipment, documents, records, artwork and photographs

• The National Railway Museum forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and Locomotion in Shildon

Admission to the National Railway Museum is free

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Picture: NRM. Green Arrow being maneuvered into the new Danum Gallery, Library and Museum in Doncaster.

A Lady To Remember!

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

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Picture: NRM

National Railway Museum’s Station Hall to Receive Royal Restoration £500,000 refurbishment of York’s Grade II-listed Station Hall announced. The situation has changed slightly in terms of guidance for wearing facemasks inside

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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.

Following relaxation of the Government’s coronavirus restrictions, I am delighted to confirm that the National Railway Museum at both York and Shildon (Locomotion) are now open again. 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.


It is hoped to be able to give more information about re-opening of the Friends office very soon, but for now, if you wish to contact us please continue to do so by email.


Thank you for your continued patience.

Best wishes,


Philip Benham

Chairman, Friends of the National Railway Museum

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MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN. The impact of the Coronavirus 01/05/2021 

Philip Benham Chairman

Friends of the National Railway Museum