National Railway Museum, York

An exciting and well-planned programme sees our award-winning Yorkshire attraction boost its visitors to nearly three-quarters of a million this year.

This year, the National Railway Museum in York, which cares for the largest collection of railway artefacts in the world and has won more White Rose awards for tourism than any other Yorkshire attraction, boosted its visitor numbers to 732,000.

How? "Because an exciting programme was well planned to focus on a free family outing without any dumbing down – events such as the Japan Festival, Royals Weekend, Big Fun with Little Trains. Our own science show for the family brought in 55,000 visitors," says Director Steve Davies.

A busy year saw the Museum eliven Station Hall with a complete rethink, open a new art gallery, redevelop its City entrance and shop and host the hugely popular Wizard Week, inspired by Harry Potter. It also ran Engineering Week workshops, continued the restoration of Flying Scotsman and began weekend steam shuttles to improve links with its sister museum at Shildon.

Locomotive in the revamped Station Hall at the National Railway Museum, York

Next year, Davies plans to add a locomotive servicing facility to bring in the steam engines which pull specials through York during the summer. But he’s keen that the Museum isn’t perceived as a theme park.

"Everything we do must respect our core mission: to spread the story of how railways emerged, not into an industrial world that existed, but one they actually created,” he says. “One of our big objectives is to refresh our relationship with the modern railway industry, and we enjoy a close relationship with Network Rail in terms of public debate, sharing expertise and expanding our operations nationwide."

Recent acquisitions at the National Railway Museum

  • Two cost books of Midland Railway locomotives compiled by S W Johnson, Midland Railway: 'New engines charged to capital', 1873-88, and 'New work in progress', 1880-88
  • Brass-faced steel tablet, Tyer's No. 6 electric tablet, School of Signalling, Manchester, made by Tyer's Co., c. 1920
  • Logbook containing handwritten entries by Ray Coleman, a BR engineer working on the APT-E project, 1975-76
  • LMS Royal Train dining car attendant's uniform (below) comprising jacket and trousers, London Midland & Scottish Railway, c. 1925
  • Station warning sign reading 'Cycling, skateboarding and rollerskating are prohibited within station limits. By order of British Railways Board', British Railways Board, c. 1985
  • Pamphlet by Thomas Hill, 'The Liverpool and Manchester, the consequent great change that will be effected by them on property, with respect to innkeepers, coach proprietors etc', 1829
  • Book The David Shepherd Archive Collection, collection of artist David Shepherd’s work, 2011 - favourite paintings including his railway scenes
  • Plaque from HST power car 43078 Shildon County Durham giving details of the naming ceremony, 1983
  • Collection of 39 silver gelatin lantern slides in glass mounts, featuring Southern Railway posters, c. 1923-30
  • Silver-plated trophy, London & South Western Railway Track Inspectors Challenge Cup, 1904, presented by the Members of the Engineering Committee