A vibrant and enthralling destination for all the family, the National Railway Museum is a highly accessible and rewarding museum. It’s a great place to satisfy any interest in huge machines, though it is far from being just a train spotter’s paradise.
Many of the locomotives – from the glorious age of steam and beyond – are powerful and in full working order. The museum’s approach to display is more than hands on: here you can run the engines, crawl under the rolling stock, ride a Segway around a specially designed course, take a trip on a miniature railway and clamber into cabs, including that of the train used in the Harry Potter movies. Other famous residents include the splendid Art Deco-styled Duchess of Hamilton and the most iconic of all British trains, The Flying Scotsman. Enthusiasts and those who want to see and learn more can go to a signalling demonstration, or try a little restoration in the workshop and take part in model railway weekends. The library and family history archives in Search Engine are a tremendous resource – pop in to see if you can find out if any of your ancestors were rail workers.
A free disabled car park is available at the ‘city’ entrance. With excellent smooth surfaces throughout, the museum consists of two main sites connected by an underpass, where you’ll find steps, but also a four-foot by two-foot lift. Manual wheelchairs can be borrowed free of charge, and may come in particularly handy for mobility-impaired walkers who struggle to undertake the distances involved in the full tour. A lot of thought has gone into accessibility beyond the needs of just wheelchair users and those on foot – there are sound guides, large print maps and signed presentation shows and tours once a month (usually on the first Saturday). The museum offers a wide range of educational events, trips and tours, including visits into locomotive cabs and carriages, many of which are ramped. Call the museum or the learning department to discuss the various options.
Food & drink: The Dining Car restaurant specialises in delicious organic, seasonal and local produce – it is also licensed for alcoholic drinks. Elsewhere on site the Mallard café serves sandwiches, wraps and cakes.