The National Railway Museum

No roundup of railway matters in the United Kingdom would be complete without reference to the National Railway Museum. This museum houses and displays the national collection of preserved railway locomotives, carriages, other rolling stock together with a vast quantity of memorabilia. Formerly located in Clapham, London, it was moved to York where a more fitting, and much larger set of buildings was available to display parts of the collection. The major exhibition hall has a large display of locomotives as it centrepiece, around a large turntable which allows the display to be changed regularly. The hall is adjacent to the East Coast main line with which it is connected so that working locomotives can be moved elsewhere - some are loaned to preserved railways throughout the country and often can be seen in action. Nearby is another hall, formerly the freight & parcels depot, where more rolling stock can be seen. The Museum has this year [2001] been given the award of 'European Museum of the Year'. For a comprehensive guide to what it has to offer, you should have a look at the Museum's own web site, but below are a few images which will give an idea of what can be seen.

Agenoria Of the earliest days, George Stephenson's locomotive 'Rocket' of 1829 hardly needs introduction, so well known is its history with a replica displayed elsewhere in the Museum. However, less well known is this contemporary 'The Agenoria' built by Foster and Rastrick. Less elegant and sophisticated in design than 'Rocket', it was used mainly for coal haulage around mines in the Birmingham area.

Tank LocoThis beautifully preserved little tank locomotive is typical of the quality of the exhibits.

MallardA particularly special locomotive is 'Mallard', the holder of the world speed record for steam traction at 125.1 m.p.h. set on 3rd. July, 1938 on Stoke Bank on the East Coast main line.

Mallard one of the well preserved A4 class of Gresley designed locomotives, several of which are still in action. "Union of South Africa" and "Sir Nigel Gresley" for example, are regularly to be seen throughout the country and are much in demand. Although Mallard itself has taken to the rails in years past, it is now to be found on display here in the main exhibition hall as it would require overhaul of its boiler before being certified as fit for main-line operation. This class of locomotives and their associated rolling stock set the standards during the 30's and provide a nostalgic glimpse back to that great era.

Evening StarThe age of steam did not last of course and in the United Kingdom, came to an end in 1967, on public railways at least. 'Evening Star' B.R. Number 92220, designed by Riddles, was the very last steam locomotive to be built for British Railways in 1960 and is here preserved for the national collection. It saw but five years of service before it was withdrawn for preservation. A quite large and powerful locomotive (86 tons), it marked a very fine and fitting end to a long and memorable part of railway history.

Static engineThe Museum has very many other exhibits, not all of them directly to do with railway locomotives and rolling stock. There is for example a static 'working' beam engine, originally used for incline haulage, which gives a direct view of the working mechanism of a simple steam engine.

I hope this has given just a little glimpse of what you can see at the National Railway Museum, but don't take my word for it ! Go and see it for yourself. Be sure to allow plenty of time - a whole day, and you won't see it all...

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