Mumbler Jo and her two children recently visited the National Railway Museum. Find out more about it and all the amazing things you can see in her brilliant review.
The summer holidays and rain was threatening so I decided to visit the Railway Museum with my 2-year-old daughter B and 4-month-old baby.
Entry to the Museum is free
Peeking into the trains
I was surprised to find it wasn’t too busy. Entry is free but donations are asked for at the entrance desk and some activities, like the miniature train and mallard simulator, are ticketed at £4 and £3 respectively. However, there was so much to do – far more than we realised – even without these additional activities.
We worked out that the museum is split over two sites. Nearest the main entrance is the old Station Hall with train platforms housing historic carriages and engines, fabulous railway signs, old posters and some great paintings.
Experimenting with the Magnets
On the other side through a link tunnel is the enormous Great Hall where modern and historic engines sit alongside each other and – absolute highlight of the visit – a working toy model railway. A lift at each end of the link tunnel allows pram and wheelchair access but at busy times be prepared for quite a wait. Both areas have a buggy-friendly baby change, although they do double up as the disabled loo as well.
Enjoy the storytelling session
We arrived at 11.30am, just in time for the storytelling session which takes place at platform 6, in an empty railway carriage – so far, so Harry Potter. The storyteller did a great job of corralling 20 under 6’s into collectively telling the story of an imaginary train journey.
Why not take a picnic along
We took a picnic for lunch and I was glad I had and it’s great to have this option if you’re watching the pennies over summer. The cafe can be a bit pricey although the seating area in the Station Hall nestled between historic carriages on platform 4 is fun. We found a table to eat at without any problem, with space for the double buggy and plenty of highchairs for little ones. The Great Hall also had a spacious café with a good selection of cakes and a kids lunch box option. According to NRM website, the kids sandwich box starts at £5 and their hot kids meal option is £5.75.
Under 5’s play area
B discovered the working model railway just off the Great Hall and, along with several other kids she had a fantastic time waving at the trains and running from case to case to see them come out of the tunnels. Near the model railway is an under 5’s area where, be warned, there are two rides on Thomas the Tank Engines. Another highlight of this area was a wooden toy train set which provided hours of fun. At 2pm a pop-up busking scientist – pulled out their Science cart and kids of all ages flocked to try out the different experiments – all for free.
Overall thoughts about the National Railway Museum
One of the great things about the National Railway Museum is the space and sheer scale of it all. Plenty of room to manoeuvre a double buggy and for a toddler to run around in between the giant engines.
This is a fantastic wet weather option, a great space for a coffee and cake and a memorable experience for children to explore the enormous engines. I have one happy and newly converted model railway fan.
Useful links & information
For more information about NRM over the summer holidays see here. For more information about the NRM over October Half Term see here. For more information about the NRM over Christmas see here. For more Mumbler reviews of the attractions in and around York visit the Mumbler Review section here.