Back in February half term we decided to take a trip to York and visit the National Rail Museum. Bobcat and daddy are huge train fans, I *might* have mentioned this before. Bobcat has a few interests these days, but trains are the biggest things for him. They were his first big interests and still are. This is of course quite common with autistic boys (and girls) and a lot of neurotypical children love trains too. I don’t know what is it about the trains really. Even when he does a bit of a lining up of random things (he’s otherwise not big on lining up) he always tells us, that he’s making a train. Funny. Anyway, you know which very famous trains can you visit in the National Rail Museum? The Mallard. And the Flying Scotsman (aka Gordon’s brother from Thomas the Tank Engine), but the latter is no longer on display in the museum as it’s touring in the UK. (What a rockstar.) Because Bobcat have had such a brilliant start of the year in school and worked so hard, we thought we treat him to this visit. And so we took the train from London to York a morning and just after noon we arrived to York.
The museum itself is free and it’s right next to the train station in York. It’s open all year apart from Christmas. You can find the world’s largest railway collection here, so you can guess the size of the museum. You really need a whole day for the visit. It would be hard to mention all the super interesting bits because the museum has a collection of over a million railway-related objects but these were our favourites:
Travel back in time
In the first large hall (station hall), you can see lots of different vintage trains, all propped up with amazing displays of everyday items from the era: peek inside an old post carriage, see how people travelled in style back a century ago and lots of lovely vintage travel pieces. It’s allowed to climb on board some of the carriages. There’s also a railway-inspired restaurant here but . we didn’t try this one.
In the Great Hall (which used to be an engine shed until 1967 and the museum opened in 1975) there’s the Mallard on display along with a Mallard simulator (that was so much fun – you need to pay for this though) and many other famous trains. The high-speed Japanese bullet train is one of a kind outside of Japan, but inside the train it’s just a bit outdated train interior what you can actually experience, because of course it doesn’t move. There’s a small children play area too, it’s like a mini soft-play and a cafe with seating area. We had snack and coffees here.
This is a little tricky to explore with small children getting too excited about mini model trains as there are hundreds glass cabinet displays crammed into this space with thousands of valuable railway related items. I personally could have lost myself here for a while, but I didn’t have the chance, it’s not a small children compatible part of the museum – however very fascinating. My favourite bit has to be the vintage rail travel poster collection here and Bobcat loved the mini model train display.