Great Hall

Rub shoulders with railway legends, from history-makers to record-breakers. This former engine shed is home to over 300 years of railway history including some of the biggest locomotives in the National Collection.


Loco collection highlights in the Great Hall, York

Jump on board the high speed Japanese bullet train – the only one of its kind outside of Japan – and learn about travel on the world's fastest passenger rail network. See giants of steam clustered around a genuine turntable. Take a ride on our Mallard simulator as you re-live the record breaking run in 1938.

You can only obtain access to The Works and The Warehouse through the Great Hall. From the Search Engine on the upper level, you can enjoy views across this awe-inspiring space. And our smaller visitors can enjoy some train themed play in our Little Play Station.

Great Hall's history

Before it became a museum, the Great Hall was engine shed number four - one of nine in York. Built in 1877 the shed was used to house, clear and prepare steam locomotives for the mainline. In April 1942, along with York Station, it was badly damaged in a German air raid but repaired: many others nearby weren't so lucky.

It was used for working engines until 1967 and was used to store redundant steam locomotives from 1968 when diesel and electric locos were introduced. When the National Railway Museum opened in 1975 it was the ideal space to house our collection, enjoying a second lease of life!

Our Collection in Great Hall

  • Mallard


    Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, in 1938 Mallard broke the world speed record for steam locomotives, a record that has never been beaten.
  • Shinkansen - bullet train


    Japan's high-speed railway revolution resulted in the remarkable bullet train - the forerunner of high-speed trains everywhere.
  • Replica Rocket


    Almost everyone has heard of Stephenson's Rocket. George Stephenson and his son Robert, were amongst the very first locomotive engineers.
  • Winston Churchill Funeral Train


    Until 3 May 2015 we will be displaying the loco with the baggage van and pullman car used in the great man's funeral of 1965.
  • Ellerman Lines


    We have rebuilt this Merchant Navy class to demonstrate how a steam locomotive works. Come along to one of our talks.
  • Evening Star


    Evening Star was the last steam locomotive to be built for British Railways.
  • Duchess of Hamilton


    The streamlined Duchess is a stunning piece of 1938-built Art Deco opulence that wowed design critics on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • City of Truro


    City of Truro was the first locomotive to have reached 100mph, in 1904.
  • KF-7 - Chinese Loco


    The Chinese locomotive is the largest single locomotive in the museum - over 15 foot tall and more than 93 feet long.
  • Bauxite


    Built in 1875 Bauxite is a rare survivor, a tank engine only ever in industrial use, preserved over 60 years ago.
  • Southern Railway Q1


    The Q1 was built in 1942 to a design by the innovative OVS Bulleid for the Southern Railway to help deal with the huge increase in rail traffic caused by the Second World War.
  • Class 31 diesel locomotive


    Designed to replace steam as part of the British Railways Modernisation Plan of 1955 examples of this type of diesel locomotive are still in service for Network Rail.
  • Electric locomotive 26060


    Using Britain's first electrified mainline railway, 26060 was built to haul coal trains from South Yorkshire to power stations near Manchester.
  • Coppernob


    A rare example of a Bury locomotive, Coppernob had a long service on the Furness railway until around 1898.
  • King George V


    King George V was the most powerful locomotive in the UK when built in 1927 for the Great Western Railway.
  • Bodmin & Wadebridge carriage


    Enjoy access into our second class carriage, which is one of the oldest passenger carriages in the national collection.
  • SECR 737


    Built 1901 in Ashford, this is an elaborately decorated example of an express service.
  • Agenoria


    Built the same year as rocket - 1829 - Agenoria is typical of the old technology at the time.
  • LMS 2500


    This engine ran on the London, Tilbury and Southern commuter line until it was electrified in 1962.
  • 'Lanky Tank' 1008


    This Lancashire and Yorkshire engine is the only British standard gauge 2-4-2 tank engine preserved.

More views of Great Hall

Background: 'Skegness is so Bracing' LNER Poster