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NRM - Your Thoughts

Discussion in 'National Railway Museum' started by Steve, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. Bramblewick

    Bramblewick Member

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    A very nice idea. Perhaps the best venue for this would be in that funny little corner where the EMUs and 'Topaz' currently live. It's quite dark and dingy already, is the first thing (after the shop) which visitors see upon entering that side of the Museum, and has never really been very well used. Not only that, but a grimy, 'smoky' MPD would make a nicely atmospheric contrast with the adjacent Station Hall.
     
  2. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    I haven't read the whole of this thread so what I'm going to suggest may have already been mentioned, but the the construction of the railway network was the last major feat of civil engineering to be carried out almost entirelyy by hand. The NRM is very light on both this subject and also the social history that went with it - the great contractors, "Tommy Shops" and the like. One of the first railway books I ever read was about the construction of Ribblehead viaduct and the description of the navivies temporary villages there made a profound impression on me; another was the book "London's termini". I know that space is limited, but we think interms only of the major bridges and tunnels and give little thought to the miles of run of the mill cuttings and embankments, most if not all of which were created by hand, as were the miles of brick arch viaducts in London especially. The people who made these surely merit a decent display of some sort.
     
  3. saltydog

    saltydog Part of the furniture

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    I wholeheartedly agree with this post,and at the risk of repeating myself I think it is high time that the worlds premier railway museum paid tribute to the true 'hero's' of the railway revoloution. The Navvies, without whom the likes of the Stephenson's and Brunel would not be the celebrated engineers they are today. And I don't mean some sanitised version of their story. We need to remind people of the sacrifices and hardships these amazing people had to put up with to physically build the lines that their pendolino's etc run over today.
     
  4. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I recall that many years a visit to the Tank Museum in Dorset included a walk through the trenches to give a ( sanitized ) idea of the environment in which they operated.

    Perhaps expensive but surely a range of holograms could be created within a specific area of the museum where visitors could walk through their particular interest ( e.g. a railway shed; a workshops; a signalbox; a shunting yard at night; an industrial railway complex such as a steelworks / brewery / coal mine scenario )
     
  5. tfftfftff86

    tfftfftff86 Member

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    I strongly second Steve's comments re the catering. I enjoyed using the buffet car at Norden during the Swanage gala, surely NRM could arrange something similar. A rebuild of the film version of Carnforth buffet would certainly be a must-have encounter for the lady visitors, especially if the NRM hired a lookalike "ghost of Trevor Howard" to come in for a cuppa every couple of hours, and spend some brief minutes drinking it, while looking from his watch to the entrance door and back.
     
  6. Guest

    Guest Part of the furniture Account Suspended

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    Why not go to Carnforth and sample the real thing!
     
  7. martin butler

    martin butler Part of the furniture

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    i have not been to the NRM for several years but the first thing i noticed was how sterile it was, no noise or railway smells etc
    the station should have a taped station announcements and loco noises , along with steam effects as it you are walking onto a platform, this should be as soon as you walk in, the very first thing you see and hear is the sounds of steam as if its just pulled up , slaming doors all change etc, with an engine displayed along with coaches, looking and smelling as if its in steam there should be better hands on displays, every kid wants to drive a steam engine, why not have a mock up of an a4, or better 4472 with all the controls working by computor so you could in theory have a go at driving or fireing a loco, modern simulators can do almost anything , a mocked up deisel cab would help to explain things like aws, and be a practical eduction tool if you have people who can demonstrate how things work
     
  8. TonyMay

    TonyMay Member

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    I think the best thing that the NRM does is its "hidden" job of supporting academic studies of railways. Hence the move to make the collection of material more available through the "search engine" is a great move.

    The presentation of the displays is really too bit clean and shiny, but I can't honestly see how you can get close to the real atmosphere of a working railway while keeping standards of cleanliness that Joe Public will accept.

    The best thing I think the NRM could do is change its policy on overhauling locomotives with regards replacement of parts considered integral to the locomotive. If something needs extensive boiler work (e.g. Butler Henderson) or a new a cylinders (e.g. Green Arrow) or whatever people should be allowed to do the work. Locomotives are pieces of engineering and as such are designed to work. For an engine to be forced to stop working is more of a loss of its integral fabric than replacing a few parts.
     
  9. Autocar

    Autocar New Member

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    I can see the argument for keeping locomotives as close to original condition as possible and if replacement parts are ordered, keeping the originals in store.
    However, with regards the V2 I would like to see a replacement cylinder block ordered and the original placed on display - with all the discussion over this block I'd love to see it and it can be refitted at a later date.
     
  10. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    This is now going off-topic but I do have mixed feelings about not using things because it will destroy their originality. For the most part, if replacement/repair was done in a like for like manner, I personally cannot see any reason why it shouldn't be done. Most of what we have is not 'original' and it is only in a very few circumstances that we should mothball something to maintain that originality. Rocket and Coppernob are two examples where we should/must. To restore them to working order would require the replacement of virtually everything. I used to accept the argument about Lode Star being a prime example of a loco outshopped from Swindon and untouchable. However, removing the asbestos lagging and all the dismantling and touching up that it entailed has fundamentally destroyed that and it is now just another loco which shows some aspects of Swindon work, along with many others. It no longer has a specific claim in this respect.

    As for the monobloc on Green Arrow, it is all very well going on about how important it is but it is so well hidden that no-one can see it and the loco would have to be largely dismantled to make is accessible! Yes, never destroy it but copying the rebuild with separate cylinders, as done to other V2's, would be a much more sensible approach
     
  11. Anthony Coulls

    Anthony Coulls Well-Known Member

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    As I have said on many occasions, please wait and see folks. You may be surprised. However, we do not believe in operating stuff beyond our practical means - but we have some exciting plans...
     
  12. Anthony Coulls

    Anthony Coulls Well-Known Member

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    In the mean time, thanks for all the useful comments, we were discussing them today, but please, if there are any more, please keep them coming, perhaps until the end of next week - 5th March.
    Thanks again
    Anthony
     
  13. 73129

    73129 Part of the furniture

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  14. Edward

    Edward Member

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    The smell, sight and feel of a steam loco is missing. Perhaps a single loco in steam on the site during busy periods. Nothing fancy- an industrial would do fine, just something "alive".

    Otherwise, maybe the odd "Explainer" can be a little too enthusiastic. One regailed me with a story of repeated plug dropping on a particular heritage railway during my last visit. Politely pointed out that what he was saying was totally untrue. I'm sure he took it on board, but how many other people had been told that fairy story?
     
  15. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I notice the 'dumbing down' aspect of the museum information gets mentioned on there. This is something that must really be addressed, not just by the NRM, but by museums in general.
     
  16. TonyMay

    TonyMay Member

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    From a photographic perspective, I have a few more comments:

    The blue roof is fairly distracting - could it be painted in a more neutral colour?

    Also, lighting by way of spotlights, combined with enthusiastic cleaning of engines and other exhibits leads to reflections of the spotlights off the exhibits. It'd be better to diffuse the light somehow (think of a big softbox), and/or maybe let the exhibits gather a little dust.

    Otherwise photography will be difficult because it's difficult to compose photographs properly when everything is packed in tight. I don't think there's a lot you can do about that though.
     
  17. timmydunn

    timmydunn Member

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    I wouldn’t normally post, but I have considered a few things; and I know that the development of NRM+ is very important. I start by saying that the NRM is my favourite of our national museums. I’m no railway expert – I can’t tell one big black steam engine from another most of the time. But the sheer variety, the design, the breadth – of the collection at the NRM excites me. Yes, some interactive are a little tired, but I can forgive those. It’s free. And it has always been worthy of a donation.

    Interactives are important, but so are the collections themselves. I’ve often felt that many museums have removed collection exhibits in order to simplify the experience for the user. And so the context or even the detail about the exhibit, is lost. I see no reason why there cannot be “summary” information about exhibits and then panels that include more detailed, extensive information for enthusiasts or specialists.

    Children are very important (children are our future, etc...) but let us not reduce the collections and their display by making it all too brightly coloured, bullet-pointed and hands-on. There’s a time and a place for that – and it isn’t everywhere.

    The cross-linking of items in the collection is also something that is lacking. There’s an opportunity to take people on journeys across the museum by suggesting items that they might not otherwise discover. Perhaps these could be indicated by exhibits. Or, one art gallery (I think the National Gallery) ran themed self-guided tours. These were simple leaflets that selected a dozen or so exhibits and grouped them, e.g. “I’ve got one hour” or “For lovers” etc. These took visitors on journeys to experience a story that they might never have previously understood. Not only could this work in paper format, but also downloadable podcasts before a visit: these could contain far more than an interpretation panel could.

    You could choose the story of the navvies, or of the GWR, or of railway design, or of industry and the railways. Every visit you make would be different; you’d spend more quality time with key exhibits, and you’d want to come back again to experience a completely different story. In this world where our daily lives are organised through a series of hyperlinks, skipping between webpages and content quite naturally, letting us be selective about what we view – there is no reason why the NRM cannot be the same.

    In terms of collections, please don’t lose the Warehouse. It’s the closest we can get to the collection style of RAF Wroughton NMSI stores. But even just the simplest of cataloguing systems – perhaps occasional touchscreens amongst the Warehouse – would help visitors identify or search.

    It would be marvellous to include more things from other places – such as ways to illustrate commuter travel, or the railway depot, or the way that railways transformed towns (viz Swindon, Bletchley, Crewe etc) but perhaps I’ve just missed that on previous visits. But perhaps more about the 1960s/70s, Beeching, branch lines, the rise of the DMU and the Modernisation Plan – and the implications of it.

    Items around the edge of the locos would also help – for example, there are the beginnings of an interesting display of BR near the HST125 prototype. More of that integration of locos and the railway that they worked on and their purposes – would be grand.
     
  18. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    With the advrent of smaller electronics is oit possible to provide push button systems alongside exhibits to hear the sound of that exhibit ( e.g push button by HST 41000 to hear traction unit in action; push button by 4468 to hear A4 starting / speeding; push button by 2500 to hear train stopping / starting at station with sounds of slamming doors to recreate commuter station aura ). If this could be accompied by holograms a passable recreation could be initiated of times past.
     
  19. If i would have my way i would like to see the area where the tent is in the south yard to be recreated as a Npd style area showing the grime and filth of the railways giving a explanation properly as to how the drivers and fireman felt at dieselisation and how it didnt all go to plan .
    but allso a display of the nrms Larger models such as the Vor tank and the garratt alongside little giant the first miniature loco constructed for passenger work ( little giant isnt owned by the Nrm )
    then a series of boards showing whjere other items of the collection are on display this may make people go to other places aswell as just the nrm
     
  20. The exile

    The exile New Member

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    I'd like to see more thought given to explaining the development of passenger rolling stock. I've always thought that there was too much emphasis in the station hall on the royal passenger stock and not enough about the experience of the ordinary travelling public.
     

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