National Railway Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

National Railway Museum

York, United Kingdom

Lily Johnson

18 Feb 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About National Railway Museum

The National Railway Museum in York is home to some of the country’s greatest feats of engineering, and tells the story of Britain’s railway innovation.

National Railway Museum history

The museum was founded in 1975 on the site of the former North York locomotive depot, where it still stands today. In the early days of locomotive transport, York was revered as the heart of the rail networks of the north.

York’s own ‘Railway King’, George Hudson, had a huge role in achieving this when he became the first to merge a number of independent rail companies, creating a rail link from London to Edinburgh, with York as a vital junction.

Its train station, when built in 1877, was the largest in the country (some said the world!) and was admired as one of the great buildings of Victorian Britain. By 1910, about 310 trains were running through the station per day.

The Museum today

Today the museum, managed by the Science Museum Group, welcomes guests from all over the world to marvel at its vast collection of locomotives. With over 100 in its collection, the rail vehicles span from the wagon ways of 1815 to the high speed trains of the 21st century.

A ‘Palaces on Wheels’ display features decadent Royal Train carriages from Queen Victoria to Elizabeth II‘s reigns, while a vast collection of models, paintings, and other artefacts tell the fascinating story of locomotive development.

The museum is also home to some of the world’s most iconic trains. Mallard, the fastest steam-powered train on the planet, can be found there, alongside the stylishly streamlined Duchess of Hamilton and a high-tech Japanese bullet train – the only one of its kind outside of Japan.

Getting to the Museum

The National Railway Museum is located next to York Railway Station, with a signposted route available. The number 10 bus passes the museum, and a Park and Ride service is also available. The museum has its own carpark a short walk away, where a day parking ticket may be purchased.

Featured In

Victorian Sites in England

Explore England's Victorian heritage through these 10 dazzling sites, from Osborne House to Crystal Palace Park, as well as some lesser-known yet important gems.

Historic Sites in York

Discover some of York's best historic sites, from the breathtaking York Minster to the meandering medieval City Walls. As one of the oldest cities in the UK, York's history spans everything from the Romans to the Cold War, leaving history fans of any era spoilt for choice!