Thursday, 21 August 2014


The wonderful Mallard and its fellows in the Museum's Great Hall
It was a toss up between Mallard or the Minster and I'm afraid Mallard won. We spent a great afternoon at the National Railway Museum. And I mean 'we' not 'I' – I knew I would enjoy it; after all I was a train spotter in my pre-teen days but Mrs B...well girls didn't do train spotting did they.
But you don't have to be a grown-up trainspotter to be enthralled by the vast steam era giants that fill the halls. Or awestruck by the sheer beauty of the streamlined blue Mallard, still – 75 years on – the fastest steam locomotive ever.
This place will bring on an attack of nostalgia in any adult of a certain age. Nostalgia for these wonderful dinosaurs with their elegant paint liveries and polished brightwork, for the black and white stills and film clips showing around the halls, the classic railway poster artworks, the days when rail travel meant a handsomely upholstered seat in a panelled compartment. For smoke, steam and smuts.
A glimpse of the Royal way to travel
How steam works - with the aid of a full scale cutaway
An Aladdin's cave of memorabilia
There's so much to see in the huge halls of the museum - the sumptuous interiors of royal trains, the drivers' cabs, all polished copper and brass and full of unfathomable levers and wheeels, the vast Chinese steam engine designed by a Brit, steam, diesel and electric locos of every age and size and the astonishing gallery that is filled floor to ceiling with railway memorabilia that hasn't found a home elsewhere – everything from clocks to models, memorial plaques to cutaway cylinders, statues to signals. And then there is the workshop where exhibits are restored and repaired with, half hidden at the back the boiler of the legendary Flying Scotsman which is under a nut and bolt restoration to bring it back to the tracks next year.
All polished copper, brass and mysterious levers and turnwheels
We also had an excellent talk from one of the volunteers explaining how a steam locomotive works and why, sadly, as a power unit they only manage eight per cent efficiency which meant their inevitable demise. (The limiting factor to the performance of the big streamliner engines was the fireman's ability to keep the thing fuelled - he needed to shovel one ton of coal an hour!)
Altogether an excellent afternoon - and free too, though you'd have a hard heart not to part with a few quid for a couple of enthralling hours.

Clever cafe is rail themed - note period luggage overhead

The restoration workshop and back there is the Flying Scotsman

1 comment:

  1. Just love York....I do think it is my favourite city as there is so much to do. True the crowds can at times and in some places be tiring but in another way they rather make the place that little more exciting. Glad you are enjoying it though I guess Brian is a touch put out that he is treated as a second class citizen on the walls!! Mind you he looks as if he was enjoying his piggy back