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National Railway Museum

Discussion in 'National Railway Museum' started by admin, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. Tim Light

    Tim Light Well-Known Member

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    The top picture is Think Tank at Birmingham. The lower one is Head of Steam at Darlington.

    Darlington North Road used to be a railway station. When first opened it had good atmosphere as you could see trains standing in a platform. Now they have spent a lot of money ensuring that you can't stand back and appreciate the exhibits except from the footbridge. The railway station atmosphere has been lost under a lot of creamy white melamine (or some such material).

    I haven't seen anything as bad as this at the NRM, and my plea is that they don't do it in the name of "interpretation".
     
  2. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    What explanation can you make? I'd prefer it had stayed in the south east to moving to
    York and I've held that opinion for decades.... how do you explain that?
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  3. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    A reason for your preference?
     
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  4. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    Not the NRM I have mis interpreted but the comment is much the same as my coment some months ago about steam.
     
  5. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    So do you simply mean 'I wish it was nearer me'?
     
  6. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    No, it would be much the same, maybe York is a little further from me...London is not down the road
     
  7. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    So you think it's important to have such national museums in or near London?
     
  8. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    did you miss post 42?
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    My own view is that since National Museum's are taxpayer-supported, there is logic spreading the benefit (both cultural and economic) around the country. Within that very broad view, it also makes sense to site them where they make sense in context. Clearly, some of the older museums (V&A, Science Museum, IWM, National Gallery etc.) developed originally in London and it wouldn't make any sense to move the core collections from there, though they are all throwing out off-shoots into further regions.

    Taking that viewpoint, York seems a very sensible place for the NRM, given that (a) York was a significant railway town, as a junction, company headquarters and manufacturing centre and (b) the nucleus of the collection was originally assembled by the NER / LNER, so there is also a historical relevance to making the collection there - certainly more than had it been based in another railway town, such as Crewe, Ashford, Eastleigh etc.

    Tom
     
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  10. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    That doesn't make sense Tom, the National Collection developed in London too, the majority of it is not from the old York museum.. Sure it won't be moving anywhere now so it's academic anyway.
     
  11. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I haven't checked the statistics but, prior to York, I suspect more of the national collection was kept at Hellifield than London. In which case, by your argument, Hellifield has more claim to be the site of the National Museum.
     
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  12. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    not my arguement, that was Tom. The National collection was scattered around all over and the NRM in York was built to bring them all together and incorporate the collections at York and Clapham.
     
  13. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    Not at all. I'm trying to work out whether there is some kind of rationale or not. If it is just some strange gut feeling with no rationale at all then that is fine - just nice to know and curious that you brought up the subject.
     
  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    But the nucleus of the collection was started by the LNER and originally owned as a museum in York - so even though the current collection is much-expanded, basing it in York can be used to give context to why we even have a national railway collection in the first place. Certainly more coherence than any location in London would have.

    Tom
     
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  15. Tim Light

    Tim Light Well-Known Member

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    The NRM now has a number of outposts and partner organisations that allow NRM vehicles to be exhibited and in some cases operated in different parts of the country. This seems like a good thing to me. And we see a certain amount of rotation, e.g. between Swindon and York/Shildon, so that it's worth making occasional visits to see what's new.
    I agree with all the above.

    In addition, I think that there is an attitude in some quarters that because London is the capital it should have first choice of anything that can be considered "National". A prime example was the national football stadium, which ... against all logic ... was sited at Wembley, a place with horrendous traffic congestion even on a non-match day. It makes sense to share things around, to relieve congestion and to locate things in their historical heartland. And to encourage people to visit places they might otherwise have overlooked.

    Having said that, some of the museums in my area don't seem to have any connection, e.g. the Royal Armories in Leeds and the National Media Museum in Bradford.
     
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  16. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    no I didn't I think that was Tom too in post 9 started the conversation about London and the rest of the Country.
     
  17. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    I can only agree about Darlington North Road - it must be well over 5 years since I have been, and actually being able to see any of the exhibits properly was impossible, and any value of it being in a real Station was lost, due to the 'interpretation'. I am all in favour of explaining the story of Railways but not so that you loose sight of the actual exhibits.

    York would probably have gone more the same way had funding for the last proposed redevelopment been obtained - I heard rumours that there would have been a significant reduction in the number of actual exhibits had this gone ahead. The continued creation of further outstations suggests that there is still this sort of intent.

    It is a difficult balance between giving sufficient space to be able to view the exhibits and not having too few to provide interest - and it is probably fair to say that, as ever, enthusiasts who want to photograph everything are not the main target audience! The Belgian National Railway Museum has about 8 steam locos and a handful of diesel and electric exhibits and most of the steam locos are in the first hall, which has 'special effects' lighting, making photography 'challenging'! Given some patience, reasonable results can be obtained (these are from the next 'hall and were taken on camera on a 'phone, so please don't judge on the clarity - other versions were taken on better cameras).

    IMG_20160430_134503.jpg IMG_20160430_141910.jpg

    At Utrecht, 2 unique locos can only be seen as part of a 'roller coaster' style 'ride' through various scenarios - approaching one rapidly head-on in the 'car' is quite an experience!

    Steven
     
  18. Phil-d259

    Phil-d259 Member

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    I think what Tom is getting at is the LNER, unlike all other big 4 companies actually were open to preservation - they found room to house the City of Truro IIRC and Gladstone in York along with the Stirling single etc long before a "National" museum was ever thought of and well before "British Railways" even existed.

    In that sense having the NRM in York is entirely appropriate for a 'National collection' - and is actually far more appropriate than London.
     
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  19. Phil-d259

    Phil-d259 Member

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    I think you will find the decision to "remodel the site" (the Great hall that is) had rather a lot to do with the fact that the previous building (the converted steam shed) was suffering from 'Concrete cancer' and likely to collapse at some stage during the late 1990s if nothing had been done. At the very least it would have been necessary to bar public access and hand netting from it to protect the contents in the manor of Carnforth within a few years.

    Thus given the old steam shed had to go ( There is no 'cure' for 'concrete cancer' - all you can do is slow the degradation down via expensive treetments) then the decision to build a totally new building - which to my mind takes inspiration from the train sheds at our various city centre termini (albut using modern materials) was the correct one.

    Yes they have removed one of the turntables - but that has allowed more space to display other exhibits and visitor facilities. While at first glance a Japanese built train may not seem relevant, we are now about to construct just such a line in the form of HS2 - much of the design principles being derived from the original Japanese line (in the same way that railways in general go back to the Stockton & Darlington or InterCity railways tracing their roots back to the Liverpool & Manchester) so having one of the pioneers driving cars is just as appropriate as having replicas of Locomotion or Rocket. Such space allows the NRM to enter the 'operate entertainment' market and generate funds from that activity on a far more effective way than a 'steam shed' environment allows.

    As society changes - so must museums so that future generations will continue to want to visit them. As much as it annoys the purists railway museums, just like Heritage railways earn most of their money from non enthusiasts visitors. Recreating the environment of a typical 1950s steam shed may go down well on here - but that is simply not the way to attract the visitors necessary to keep such attractions going in the longer term as those who remember working steam in the UK die off.

    Similarly those 'dumbed down' information boards are not put there for enthusiasts - they are there for mum, dad and the kids - most of whom only have a very rudimentary knowledge of railways - yet who are likely to spend considerable amounts on souvenir badges, pens plus refreshments while they are there. Providing the sorts of detailed information so beloved by enthusiasts in a physical form is a turn off for much of the UK population, particularly in a age of smartphones where people demand instant answers or media content to questions without having to read through lots of 'boring' text.

    In my opinion he worst part of the York site is not the Great Hall, nor 'the Works' or any of the 'modern' bits, it is actually the 'station hall area' - precisely because of the horrible roof. As a goods depot it might have been fine but a covered roof with the occasional yellowed plastic sheet in it for daylight does not enhance the viewing experience - it needs a total strip back and renewal with modern materials that admit plenty of natural light to show off the collection properly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  20. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    As someone who writes interpretative material for a small museum of railwayana from time to time I do feel this paragraph is in danger of becoming just a trifle patronising. Part of the art, which I am struggling to learn. is to avoid either dumbing down or wordy displays which, literally get in the way of the exhibits. The enthusiasts know all about it anyway so we have to avoid, for instance, rather impenetrable descriptions of key token instruments which succeed in avoiding saying what the device was actually for.

    It is highly unlikely that anyone with no interest would come into the museum at all, so we are left with people with interest but sometimes little knowledge. Thus we have to provide enough information to enable the parents of a highly intelligent two year old to answer his repeated "what's thats". Children of that talent have a sixth sense of detecting when they are being fobbed off! Similarly, the two middle aged ladies may not know a great deal about trains but they know about the significance of clocks with regulator movements.

    PH
     
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