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Steam Locomotives at Largest Rail Museum

York Rail Museum children drawing photoIt is the grandest railway museum in England and the largest railroad exhibit of its kind in the world. Taking up three large halls of a former station and locomotive factory next to York’s main rail station on the main rail line from London to Edinburgh, the rail museum at York houses a display of over 100 locomotives and hundreds of rolling stock cars and other railway history artifacts. Covering 20 acres mostly indoors in the halls, the magnificent steam engines of Great Britain’s rail legacy allow gawking and hands on interaction.

Yorkshire Rail Engine photoThe museum's main hall is like stepping back into a Victorian era rail station with the glistening engines waiting to depart to the far reaches of empire. The collection of England’s National Rail Museum is actually divided between York, London and the Locomotion facility in Shildon near Durham (see Locomotion Rail Museum Shildon). At York is a replica of George Stephenson’s famous early engine “The Rocket”, which established the first passenger service between Manchester and Liverpool. The original is at the Science Museum at London while another operating replica gives rides at Manchester (see Manchester Museum Science and Industry). One of the great engines on display is the Mallard, the sleek blue giant A4 engine, one of only 4 surviving in the world, Winston Churchill Wartime Train photowhich set the steam world speed record at an amazing 126 miles an hour. Other engines on display run the gamut from the giant Chinese Locomotive built in England for use on the Chinese Railways to the high tech Shinkansen Japanese Bullet Train engine, the only example outside Japan, the "Battle of Britain Class" WWII era armored locomotive the "Winston Churchill", to the ornately beautiful Queen Victoria’s Carriage, used by the queen in the late 1800s, an example of the royal Victorian era style which is part of the “Palace on Wheels” collection of noble carriages. Also on display is the “Old Coppernob” the first engine to run on the still partially operating Furness railway (see Lakeside & Haverthwaite Cumbria Lake District).

Steam Engine York Rail Museum photoSeveral of the engine cabs are open during the day at Station Hall for a chance to climb into the engineer's cab of a powerful historic steam engine. A recorded sound guide on offer gives an aural tour and provides living sounds to go with the sights. Observe the maintenance and reconstruction progress of the engines, cars, and wagons of the collection from the Workshop Gallery balcony of the Engine Works located off the Great Hall and Warehouse. In the Works display area, visitors can have a go at building their own locomotive, controlling a train and watching a live video link to York’s Main Line signal box. For kids the York NRM has a railroad themed playground located in the Museum’s South Yard, accessed via the Station Hall and a short miniature railway for rides. The National Railway Museum’s brand new Library and Archive Center the “Search Engine” allows a study, research and browsing the collection of the printed archives of photos and documents, not formerly available.

Visiting York National Railway Museum

Admission to the National Railway Museum at York is free and a short walk from the main station. From the old city center of York the station and museum can be reached by a nice stroll across the Lendal Bridge, following the signs to the York Rail Station, or just keeping an eye on the big wheel over the trees. A tourist road train runs every half hour to the museum’s door from Duncombe Place next to the Minster (see York Minster Cathedral). And if you’re a model railroad enthusiast, there is The York Model Railway museum just outside the main York Rail Station. The model railroad here has over 14 miniature trains running on over 300 yards of track along with a store to buy model rail items.
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