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Digicam report (10): Museums
Page first written 21 May 2003
Last updated 8 August 2011

"The museums of railways"

Digital Camera Report from Birmingham No. 10


On one corner of Covent Garden Piazza, completed in 1635 by the then famous architect Inigo Jones, in the West End of London, there is a London Transport Museum. While all other national museums, including the Science Museum where the visitors can see the famous steam engines such as "Rocket" or "Puffing Billy" are all free, London Transport Museum is run by Transport for London and is very expensive the entry fee of GBP 5.95 compares to the first zone price of the Tube (GBP 1.60). However, expensive as it is, the display is certainly impressive. One of the tourists guidebooks says it has a good collection of commercial art during the 19th and the 20th centuries.

The most magnificent of all the railway museums in the UK is definitely the NRM (National Railway Museum) in York, where the Japanese bullet train (Series 0 electric multiple unit) has now deprived "Mallard" the steam engine that holds the speed record, of the "stardom" in the NRM.

In Birmingham, too, there is a place called Birmingham Railway Museum near Tyseley Station, which is in the south-east of the city. Actually, it is no longer officially a museum; now called "Tyseley Locomotive Works Visitor Centre", a lot of railcars, some more than a hundred years old, are at the site awaiting preservation works. However, although there is no "star" like "Mallard" in NRM, the depth and width of preservation activities throughout the country, some of which can be seen here at Birmingham, must be one of the reasons why those "stars" really shine. In NRM too, there is a room called The Warehouse where the collections are displayed without even classified.

The fact that preserved railways or trains are vigorously operated is apparently another feature of British rail culture. The experience when I took ride on the Shakespeare Express, running between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford-upon-Avon, was a very impressive one volunteers enjoying the ride on the train, operation of the locomotives, or friendship with the fellow volunteers. Apparently this is how the UK rail enthusiasts enjoy themselves. And, as a passenger, I will be able to enjoy the way they entertain me there are Severn Valley Railways and all other lines and trains I have not yet experienced...

The facade of London Transport Museum
The displays at London Transport Museum
The goods entrance to the Great Hall, National Railway Museum in York
The display at
Class 91 Locomotive, dwelling at York Station
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(c) R. Takagi 2003. All rights reserved.