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National Railway Museum announces £50m upgrade

national railway museum york

The National Railway Museum is planning its biggest upgrade since it opened in 1975 with a £50 million, seven-year redesign.

The museum, located in York, UK, is currently split into two halves with a road running between the two. The plan is contingent on the local York Central redevelopment, which will allow the rerouting of the road so that a new building can be erected to join the two halves.

The National Railway Museum believes that the redevelopment will allow it to grow its visitor numbers from 750,000 to 1.2 million while also increasing the time visitors spend in the museum from a little over two hours to four hours.

Tom Devine of the National Railway Museum told York Mix: “Our ambitious redevelopment plans will radically reimagine the visitor experience to demonstrate how railways changed our world and how modern science and engineering are transforming our railways.”

As part of the scheme the Victoria-era Great Hall will be completely renovated before being filled with exhibitions that focus on history, showing how railways changed the world. This will be complemented by a new Central Gallery, which will be built where the road currently runs, focusing on engineering technology and the railways of the future.

Next to the Great Hall a Wonderlab will be installed to introduce young people to the science and engineering behind the railways. A new public space will also be created to link the museum with York Railway Station.

The image below shows the proposed new layout of the museum:

Details of the £50 million National Railway Museum redevelopment plans.
National Railway Museum redevelopment plans.
1. Great Hall
2. Wonderlab
3. Central Gallery
4. South Yard – enhancing the outdoor area to provide more green space and to improve the visitor experience
5. Museum Square – 6. Linking the museum and station with a new public space for York, featuring the historic coal drops at its heart
6. Road – Re-routing of Leeman Road on to the future York Central road network to enable the Central Gallery and Museum Square, together with removing through traffic from the Salisbury Terrace area

When the upgrade is complete the Stephenson Rocket, built in 1829 and currently on display at the Science Museum in London, would be moved up to the National Railway Museum.

According to York Mx the £50 million needed for the revamp will be generated through surplus land sales (up to £10 million), a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant (up to £10 million), Government funding (up to £22 million) and campaign funding (£5 – £15 million).

The Great Hall will be the first area to be redeveloped, starting in 2019 with the new version and Wonder Lab opening in 2021. If all goes to plan, work on the Central Gallery would commence in 2023 with a target of opening in 2025 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the museum.

Image: National Railway Museum

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Sam McCaffrey

Journalist. Likes immersive entertainment experiences, museums, zoos and the odd go on a Waltzer.

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