An Overview of British Railways
The National Railway Museum, situated in York, forms a part of the Science Museum group in central England. Established in 1857, it is one of the country’s leading museums on railway travel. Established as the birthplace of the National Rail Museum, it is one of the few museums to incorporate a section devoted to rail travel, with a travelling railroad theme throughout. There is an extensive range of stations and exhibits, many dedicated to the railway experience in the UK. There are also sections for corporate and individual travellers, offering a more diverse range of experiences.
Some of the features include steam powered engines and model engines, heritage buildings and monuments, freight services, ticketing machines and memorabilia. The locomotives themselves have been displayed in the locomotive room since 1830. Many original models of steam engines from the 19th century have also been kept. The majority of visitors to the National Railway Museum are able to see steam engines from a very young age, often being taken on journeys around Great Britain by railway enthusiasts.
Various periods of railway history can be explored, with a large number of exhibits relating to this history. Some examples of this include The Great Railway Depression, which saw the company cut its London service, and result in thousands of people losing their means of transportation. The Locomotive Collection at the museum allows visitors to explore some of these lost locomotives. The various engines include the Queen Charlotte, Western, Liverpool, Victoria, Birmingham, Piccadilly and Dorset.
The attractions within the Museum are mostly related to the locomotives themselves, with a few sections concentrating on the era’s cities and industrial centers. The South Western Railway Journey is a great way to get a glimpse into the changing world of locomotives, delivering passengers from London’s Grosvenor Square to York’s Big Ben. The Victoria Line is represented by five locomotives, representing the London Midland, South Western, Queen Victoria, Central Western and Harbourmaster. A section of this exhibit focuses on the massive Consolidated London Railway, giving visitors an opportunity to see the huge locomotive, and discover the world’s first double-tiered engine. The London Midland Limited Express has also been re-created, bringing together the East and West Coast lines, originally operated by Consolidated London.
The exhibits within the Railway Museum also encompass a section on the history of rail vehicles, and one which particularly interest enthusiasts is the Victoria Line Tramway, which covers the entire length of the Queen Elizabeth I Bridge, and connects London to Eastwick. One of the most popular items from the collection is the restored Elwood train engine, dating back to 1869. The rebuilt locomotive, completed in 2012, features original parts, as well as a model of the completed locomotive. Several of the locomotives from this time period are on display in the restored Elwood yard, whilst others can be found in a range of large exhibits, including the newly-commissioned Elwood Flyer.
Finally, some information about the future of British railroading can be found in the Railway Archaeology Centre. This section of the museum traces the evolution of railroad in Great Britain, covering both the industrial and recreational movements which brought about this remarkable growth. Many of the artifacts associated with the railway era can also be viewed here. The focus of this section of the museum is on the effect which the movement of trains had on local cultures, revealing the impact that railways had on local life, which can be explored in several of its sections. This section will continue to feature new and exciting projects, many of which will be designed to help present day railway enthusiasts.