University of York Graduate, aspiring to be a journalist with dreams of one day publishing my own novel.
Published work can be seen at www.theyorker.co.uk and www.yorkvision.co.uk
Published June 14th 2013
Keep the legend alive
You've probably heard the news: amidst rumours of budget cuts, one of the NMSI group's Northern locations, Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry, Bradford's Media Museum or York's National Railway Museum could face a potential closure. Obviously, for all northerners and museum fanatics alike, this is devastating news – but from a personal point of view, and on behalf of all the residents of York, I feel that the National Railway Museum needs to be recognised for what it is: a vital ingredient in what makes the city of York so great. The museum is not only a hugely popular tourist attraction; it forms part of York's character, and houses some of history's finest examples of engineering. As such, and this is no disrespect to the NMSI's Bradford of Manchester branches, here are 10 reasons why the NRM should be here to stay:
10) It's absolutely free. The museum is open 362 days a year and welcomes with open arms tourists and train spotters alike, providing a shelter from the rain for some and a genuine learning experience for others.
9) It is the largest railway museum in Britain. With two vast buildings on either side of York's Leeman Road, the buildings comprise two large halls, a viewing platform, an art gallery, a library, a children's play area, a conference centre and so much more. You could literally spend a day in the museum without paying a penny.
8) There is something for everyone. The idea of perusing a collection of locomotives might not seem immediately appealing to most, but the variety of free children's shows throughout the week is perfect for families, while adults and anoraks can peruse the library or brush up on their history in the museum's Search Engine.
7) It has its fair share of celebrity followers. Trains aren't just for the Fat Controller you know – pop music mogul Pete Waterman is a regular visitor and once part-owned the famed Flying Scotsman. Top Gear nut James May is a fan, while Countdown queen Carol Vorderman led the naming ceremony of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight train at 2012's Railfest.
6) It's not just steam trains. The museum houses a scale model of the Eurostar, along with a motion simulator and the Shinkansen – Japan's futuristic 'bullet train', which visitors can sit inside at their leisure, happy in the knowledge that it is the only model outside of Japan.
5) It hosts some truly epic events. The museum has seen a whole host of memorable events throughout its history, from a visit from Paddington Bear to a full scale battle arena for Robot Wars. Perhaps the most epic, however, was 2012's Railfest, which saw approximately 65,000 people pass through the museum doors to catch sight of memorable locomotives such as Mallard and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight train.
4) The party doesn't stop after dark. Having recently been awarded 'Conference Venue of The Year' at York's 2013 Tourism Awards, it's safe to say that it's also a classy venue for conferences and parties. The museum has held dinners for up to 700 people in the past, entertaining guests with discos, mechanical bulls, bouncy castles and even guest appearances from such stars as Strictly Come Dancing's Darren and Lilia.
3) It's a tourist goldmine. Look on any guide map of York, and you'll be sure to see the iconic image of the old man and his presumed granddaughter poking their heads out of a train. The National Railway Museum is estimated to generate £443m for York each year, and it's easy to see why. Located next to York train station, the museum is easily accessible, and even offers a 'road train' service up to York Minster, connecting two of York's favourite hotspots.
2) I work there. OK, so this isn't much of a reason to the general public, but it does make me a good source of information as to what makes the museum such a great feature of York. Not to mention the catering facilities are (totally unbiased, of course) fantastic.
1) Magical things can happen. Disneyland it isn't, but I have witnessed some truly great things at the museum. The Great Hall makes for a very different indeed second-or-third date, and the Shinkansen is particularly good fun when you try to force a friend who's never been on a train before into one of its ergonomic seats. Truly, the Average Joe might be sceptical when it comes to days out in York, but if you want somewhere to have fun, for free, you could do a lot worse than the National Railway Museum – which is why I'll be fighting tooth and nail to keep it open.