I’ve been sent a package by the PA to the National Railway Museum’s Director of Fun, Sam Pointon. While it may not seem odd for a museum which is popular with families to have a director of fun, Sam is only 7 years old, and he’s been there for a year now.
Sam, or rather his PA, has asked me to write about my experiences with the museum and tell you about some of the events that are being held this summer, so here goes.
Like Sam, when I was his age, I was also very keen on trains – having a father who worked for British Rail helped as it meant lots of free rail journeys. I also grew up in York, home of the National Railway Museum and was a regular visitor. At one time, my mum took me almost every Sunday, even when there wasn’t free entry like there is now. My earliest memories were of its ‘Great Rail Exhibition’ in the former York Goods Station, as at the time the main hall was receiving a new roof. Now both the main hall and goods station are used for the museum and open to the public. Further expansions have added a workshop where you can see classic trains being overhauled and restored, as well as access to some of the museum’s archives.
Moving out of York in 2002 has meant that my visits have been sadly less frequent. My most recent visit was in 2007 which included a trip on The Yorkshire Wheel, a London Eye-style big wheel which was unfortunately only a temporary attraction and is now elsewhere. As well as seeing classic trains from both the UK and overseas (there’s a driving car from Japan’s Bullet Train, for example), there’s plenty of information about the history of Britain’s railways, and various interesting artefacts.
This summer, a sand sculpture is being built from 20 tonnes of sand by the same people who created a sand sculpture of Charles Darwin in Centenary Square in Bradford last summer. There’s also a major 1930s exhibition, linked in to the recently restored streamlined steam engine the Duchess of Hamilton, which you can see in the photo at the top of the page.
The National Railway Museum is a really great museum and you can easily spend a day there. There’s plenty to do, whether you’re a young child or a grown-up child like me. Best of all, it’s free, and only a few minutes walk from York station. You should go and visit it sometime.