The Age of the Train is Timeless

A while ago I decided to treat myself to an Easter trip to York to visit the town for a special museum that was on my bucket list of travelling adventures. This museum was none other than the National Railway Museum in York, a part of the great conglomerate of museums celebrating science and technology. The NRM was part of the Science Museum Group. After visiting the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester in December I decided it was time to tick another one off the list of places to visit.

This one however was going to be a trip unlike MOSI which made it extra special. I had been friends with Lara’s mother, Julia where we met through Facebook a few months ago. Apparently Julia and I share a common love of classic sci-fi shows and heritage and I was keen to meet her and so was I. So we made an arrangement to meet up and go to the NRM together. After giving Kaye a personal tour of the museum as the Grand Geek of Essex I was keen to show off my love of trains and engineering.

I arrived at York on time and met Julia and as we started talking to each other we hit off like a house on fire. I would say that our encounter was like the Grand Geek of Essex meeting a wonderful lovely school teacher. Very flattering indeed. We had lunch in Costa and talked about my work and accomplishments and shared each other stories. It was a nice moment to begin with and I could now understand where Lara gets her bubbly enthusiasm for her ‘artistic geekiness’. Then we went to the museum and my God it was a great love at first sight, I hadn’t felt this excited about trains since I collected Hornby Railways.

The Great Hall with it’s turntable of locomotives for a turn table was magical. Even Julia was taken aback by all these splendid creations, as she hadn’t been here for a while. I was able to explain to her a few things about train gauges to explain why the interior of the Japanese Shinkansen bullet train was wider than a British rail carriage. Its all down to the width of the track which the train is built for.

I brought along with me a tape measure to do some science in the museum by taking measurements of the different tracks that we found in the museum. The biggest that we came across was probably our own gauge: 4 ft, 8.5 in, the smallest was for a little colliery train which had a gauge of about 2 ft, 6 in. On the whole the locomotive collection was probably the highlight that excited us both, it had a grand elegant feel that you make spell bound everywhere you looked. Julia and I were like two 8 year old kids all over again. Snapping away and enjoying the moment taking each other’s picture with the attractions behind us. It was like Holmes and Watson having a day out at the fun fair.

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My most favourite piece in the museum happened to be a record breaking train that still holds the world record for high speed steam trains. This was the Mallard from the Gresley A4 Pacific series. I was so captivated by it’s blue aerodynamic shell streamlined in order to make it hit a top speed of 126 mph in 1938.

After we calmed down a bit and took some time to chill we had a tea break in the Depot. We got to sit down in a Victorian sitting room situated inside a makeshift coal wagon box. It was a really nice way to enjoy tea in a Victorian style building where you get to have the Royal experience. The best thing about the décor is how they are able to use it to create an atmosphere which resembles a setting where the museum takes inspiration from the culture and heritage it celebrates into a thematic recreational area. Brilliant!

Afterward I said goodbye to allow Julia to go to her other arrangements while I make the most of the rest of the day. I got some pictures and plenty of them show up a typical heritage holiday snap. After I shopped for some goodies in the museum’s gift shop I went onto my hotel by taking a route close to the River Ouse. This stretch of water goes all the way to the River Humber in Hull. I should take a boat tour along there someday.

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This experience has given me an idea that I might add to my volunteer work at the Science Museum. I could script a tour guide done by myself as a blogger with an organised trip around the different museums of the SMG.

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