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National Railway Museum

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

  1. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    A very useful and thoughtful posting Paul - and something I think for those from both sides of the debate to think about.
     
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  2. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    On that basis, perhaps we ought to move the National Coal Mining Museum to London, then?;)
     
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  3. 2392

    2392 Well-Known Member

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    Indeed there "appears" to have been quite a mountain of "jeaulousy and sour grapes" generated over the last 40 years. When York was choosen as the base for the first National Museum to be based outside London. As part of the terms and conditions of the national railway collection being transferred from British Rail to the Science Museum/Department of Eduction[?], British Rail had to find a suitable site for the proposed new Museum and York was choosen as it had an almost perfect site in the form of the old York North Shed.........
     
  4. Tim Light

    Tim Light Well-Known Member

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    Whilst I sympathise with much of your post, I'm not convinced on a couple of points:

    Very tenuous justification. The Bullet Train is only there because we didn't want to offend Japan by refusing it. It's a waste of space. In any case, we won't need a museum for HS2 for a few years yet.

    I agree with much of what you say here, but what's the conclusion? I agree that museums need to do more than just "stuff and mount" their exhibits in a soul-less plastic building, and I agree that they had no option but to demolish the old engine shed. But "interpretation" is not just about information panels. It's also requires some attempt to put the exhibits into an authentic context that visitors can relate to. This can be done in a modern, soul-less building, but it needs some imagination. I'll post some photos of good interpretation from across the pond.

     
  5. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    I'd disagree that the Bullet Train is a waste of space. While I don't have a great deal of interest in modern traction, the Bullet Train is an interesting item of modern railway history and one of the exhibits I'd really like to see when I finally manage to visit the York Railway Museum.
     
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  6. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    I think you have missed the point, the clue is in the name, The National Railway Museum not International. The bullet train has nothing to do with British railway history.
     
  7. tor-cyan

    tor-cyan Well-Known Member

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    and here we go again the not invented here mind set, what the bullet train shows to all and sundry is how the railways have developed, we invented railways (well the German coal mining industry did in the 17c;)) And the bullet train shows a step in the development of the train. non of my German friends seem to object to the fact that the first exhibit
    in the DB Museum in Nuremberg is a restored 18c coal chaldron from the NE of England or that the French national Railway museum has a british built steam Loco as pride of place in there entrance hall ( its been a few years since I was last there so they may have changed the exhibits around) the point being is you need to show the whole story not just the bits that were built here. Would you support the Natural history museum if they decided only to show Dinosaurs that had be found in the UK or Whales that had been caught swimming up the river Thames.

    Colin
     
  8. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Resident of Nat Pres

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    So in that case then Duxford shouldn't have things like an ME109 and Airworthy Machines like Sally B there then? Going back to the NRM how do you feel about the big Chinese machine that was built in Glasgow parked around the turntable? By your reckoning we shouldn't have 5000 (walscherts valve gear, from Belgium) D1023, Maybach engines (German). Heaven knows how you must feel about the Kylchap arrangements on the LNER 4-6-2's based there, hang on I just used the Whyte arrangement there...
     
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  9. Tim Light

    Tim Light Well-Known Member

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    We've also discussed the bullet train on another thread:

    https://www.national-preservation.com/threads/north-staffordshire-0-6-2t.811410/

    IMO the NRM should limit itself to the history of Britain's railways. That doesn't preclude the display of foreign-built exhibits, but they have to be relevant. One day maybe we'll see a class 66 or one of the many foreign-built EMU or DMU classes. The decline of Britain's rolling stock industry is very much part of the story of our railways.

    Sadly the Bullet Train doesn't fit into that story.

    As for Duxford, the Imperial War Museum has a slightly different mission, providing "... coverage of conflicts, especially those involving Britain and the Commonwealth, from the First World War to the present day.". To tell the story of our conflicts, it makes sense for the weapons of our enemies and allies to be represented. The British-built civilian airliners are more out of place than the foreign warplanes.
     
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  10. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    The locomotives you mention all ran in the countries they are preserved in, a good example of how the UK was once the workshop of the world, the bullet train has nothing to do with the story that the NRM are trying to tell. I would prefer to see some of the stored items not on public display.
     
  11. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    I see your point. But I think a lot depends on your interpretation of the word "national", it could mean a collection devoted to one country, or it could mean a collection 'owned' by that country. I've never been there, but I suspect the National Portrait Gallery has more than just portraits of and by British people. :)

    I think the Bullet Train has a place in the museum as it's one of the first high speed trains therefore a important item of railway history, and considering that it's successors are now running on railway in Britain.
     
  12. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    They all have connections with the U.K. Either having operated from here ... Or impacted here :)
     
  13. AndyY

    AndyY Member

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    Putting my pedant hat on, there never was an ME 109, it was the Bf 109.

    Although it was commonly called the ME 109 by Allied aircrew and even by the Luftwaffe, this was not the official German designation.

    The Bf 109 designation was issued by the German ministry of aviation, with ‘Bf’ representing the developing company Bayerische Flugzeugwerke.

    Most importantly, which should resonate with most railway enthusiasts, the Builder’s Plates were marked ‘Bf 109’.

    ME 110 is however the correct designation for that and subsequent aircraft such as the ME 262.

    Andy
     
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  14. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    Actually the NPG does normally only have British people on display, although exhibitions often contain pictures of non-British people. A better example would be the National Gallery or the British Museum both stuffed full of items not made in the UK.
     
  15. Peter Hall

    Peter Hall Guest

    Unfortunately I fear the powers that be now treat both the National Railway Museum at York and Locomotion the National Railway Museum at Shildon as leisure attractions rather than extensions of academia. This is reflected in footfall targets, fun and games for the kids, simplified explanations and tacky merchandising. These should be the museums that others strive to match, not the ones that make mistakes to be learned from. My criticisms of NRM policies are well known to some on here but I do understand that we are were we are for better or worse. I personally find some of the local authority museums where an entry fee is charged, whilst smaller and often with just a railway gallery, Swindon, Darlington, Tiverton and Canterbury are examples, do a much better job. Being able to charge presumably means quality rather than quantity comes into the equation. Similarly some very good museums are being developed at many of the heritage railways and the efforts of those, usually volunteers, who curate them I very much applaud.

    Although this thread is particularly focused on York, I do fear that Shildon has become a bit of a noose around the NRM neck. A lesson for Leicester if it ever happens. Compared with when it opened Shildon is a lot less a museum now than then. The historical part that formed the former Timothy Hackworth local authority museum close to the town is effectively now a remote store with guided trips as and when as a result of funding cuts you are told. You are now left with the main modern building remote from the town accessed by car through an almost abandoned industrial estate. This is now open throughout the year, is that really necessary, it wasn't when it first opened. Has this all year round opening been at the expense of the historical part of the site being an integral part of any visit?
     
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  16. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    I have never been to Shildon and have no desire to go. From the look of the building, modelled on the local Aldi store it seems there is no railway atmosphere at all. I know it would have cost more but a facade of a railway building, ideally a loco shed, would have made a lot of difference. There is more to telling the story of railway history than locomotives and rolling stock.
    The SVR had the right idea with Kidderminster Station but such a pity about that hideous building at Highley. Thankfully the members said enoughs enough when it came to the Bridgnorth development, the new plans are just right.
     
  17. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Have to agree with you about Shildon. When I first visited, probably about seven years ago, we started at the "historic" end of the site, which gave a very interesting series of buildings and exhibits, followed by a walk past interesting remains to the main collection. The complete visit felt like a coherent whole. Whereas when I went back this year, I was very disappointed to find that only the main hall was open, and we could do no more than look round the outside of the historic buildings. Interesting locomotives like "Bradyll" were not on view - even "Sans Pareil" was represented by a replica, but the original was no longer on view.

    Given the number of surviving early locomotives and other ephemera; and the historical significance of Shildon and its connection to the Stockton and Darlington and the development of early railways, as well as the Hackworth connection, the museum could be presented as the go-to centre for early railways, with a side-order of a strong North Eastern Railway flavour. As such, it could be a real "must see" museum, as well as providing a historical context to many of the objects on display, which would have a connection with the site or area, or people associated with the area. Instead, it felt this time as bit of an overflow to the "main event" in York - a place to store the items that aren't quite as glamorous as the star attractions in the parent museum - not helped by the fact that somehow the main hall feels to me simultaneously lacking in exhibits yet also difficult to get a decent view of anything big.

    There were positives - the trails for children were well thought out and kept them occupied, for a start. But the inability to explore the historic end of the site was a disappointment, and I can't help thinking that, given the location, so much more could be made of why that location is so significant.

    Tom
     
  18. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Well I have - and spoken to the local staff who see it as a community facility - which they value. In many ways it is an example of the problem that all museums face - is it a local amenity relating to the local area but geared to attract visitors or to simply collate local history for a local audience. In part that is a decision for York to make BUT York ignores Shildon at it's peril; I feel their teasing of running regular services between the 2 centres using their own loco fleet and stock has been ignored too long. This should be a vital part of the marketing and until it does happen both ends of the proposed service will suffer.
     
  19. Tim Light

    Tim Light Well-Known Member

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    Looking at the positives:

    The NRM needed a storage facility for items in their large collection that can't all be displayed at York. Locomotion provides that facility, and it is open to the public, so there are now not many NRM locomotives that are hidden away.

    The building has reasonably good natural light.

    There is the facility to run shuttle trains and stage events.​

    On the down side:

    It's not really a museum. Just a storage shed. Apart from the locos at the front of the building, it's impossible to stand back and appreciate the exhibits.​

    There is no scope for creative interpretation.

    It's reasonably accessible IF you live in the North, but a challenge for anyone who doesn't.

    Terrible to hear that Bradyll and Sans Pareil are not accessible.​
     
  20. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    At the end of the day it comes down to money. There isn't enough, for whatever reason, for the NRM and other institutions to do all the things we and they want to do. So there is little point in complaining its not what you want if you are not prepared to pay (as a nation or individually) the price of providing better facilities. Rant mode off.
     
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