July 18, 2018

£50m masterplan for National Railway Museum overhaul


The National Railway Museum is set for its biggest upgrade since it opened in 1975.

Plans to completely overhaul the Leeman Road site have been unveiled.

The museum has drawn up a £50 million, seven-year masterplan, designed to increase visitor numbers from 750,000 today to 1.2 million.

It will see the two halves of the museum – now divided by Leeman Road – unified by a brand new building. This will be built where Leeman Road is now, after the road is diverted away from the site.

And the original Stephenson’s Rocket – now housed at sister attraction the Science Museum in London – would be brought to York when the upgrade is complete.

“Our ambitious redevelopment plans will radically reimagine the visitor experience to demonstrate how railways changed our world and how modern science and engineering are transforming our railways,” said Tom Devine of the National Railway Museum.

The NRM’s regeneration will be made possible by the development of the York Central site.

That has given bosses the opportunity “to completely rethink the museum” Mr Devine said. That will make it the “cultural heart” of York Central.

Its mission will be to inspire the nation through railway innovations of the past, present and future.

The Great Hall will focus on the past, telling the story of how railways changed the world.

This would include the fact that they enabled national newspapers for the first time. “They enabled the Football League – and they even enabled things like dog breeding,” Mr Devine said.

A Wonder Lab will give a hands-on experience for younger visitors.

And a new Central Gallery will give insights into the future of rail, showing what could be possible with engineering technology.

 Speaking at the Built Environment Networking conference in Merchant Taylor’s Hall on Monday (January 8), Mr Devine said the first phase would be the Great Hall.It dates from the 1880s, and has been expanded and adapted over the decades. It was repaired in 1942 after the major air raid in York.

“We want to tell the epic story of the railways in a series of exhibitions,” he said. “We’re looking at bringing in some double height spaces so people can get different perspectives on the collection.

Stephenson’s Rocket, built in Newcastle in 1829, is now in the Science Museum.

“This is our new star item,” he said. “The group has pledged that, when we deliver the masterplan, that will be relocated from London and come to the National Railway Museum in York as the star item in the collection.”

There is only a replica of the rocket in the NRM at the moment.


Leave A Comment