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Trip Report: Locomotion – The National Railway Museum at Shildon, County Durham

Click on each image for a closer look!

When people think of railway museums in the UK, they immediately think of the National Railway Museum in York, which is said to be the largest in the world and one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions. However, what many people do not know is that since 2004, the museum has also had a second location, offering a variety of different exhibits and a different perspective on the railways.
This new site is in Shildon, a small town to the west of Darlington. This is the heart of the North-East’s coal country and also central to the birth of the railways as Shildon was on the Stockton and Darlington Railway. At one time, it was claimed that Shildon had the largest goods yard in the world, serving the coal industry. By the 1990s, all the yard track had been removed and nature reclaimed the land trackside. The main collections building at the museum is built on top of the former yard.
The site is spread along a mile-long strip beside the railway, featuring various displays and exhibits, such as a goods shed, coal drop and the main collections building. For rail photographers, the modern collections building is better-lit than the York site, making photography easier. The collection is split into themes, such as passenger, freight and track maintenance, with various specimens including locomotives, freight cars and track machines.
In 2010, the Mallard was transferred from York to its new home at Shildon. Because both sites are part of the same museum, the collection items tend to rotate so it is best to check ahead to find out where an item is.
The photos show (clockwise from the upper left):
  • A North Eastern Railway snow plough, perfect for the snowy weather in the UK right now;
  • DB 74007, the first track machine to be used by British Rail;
  • A passenger coach from the Stockton and Darlington Railway;
  • The remains of the coal drop;
  • Two generations of high-speed train, the ill-fated Advanced Passenger Train (APT) (left) and the earlier and highly successful prototype for the Class 55 “Deltic” diesels (right);
  • And finally, perhaps the most famous locomotive in the world – Mallard.
Like York, the museum at Shildon is free! However, it has more restricted opening hours so it is best to plan ahead. It is possible to visit both sites in the same day as Shildon is only two short train trips from York, changing at Darlington.
For more information, visit:
Click here for my earlier report on the National Railway Museum's York site.
Posting and images by Thomas Blampied

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