The National Railway Museum has released details of its new permanent exhibition planned for Station Hall, including concept designs for York’s former goods station.
Images created by exhibition designers Drinkall Dean give an early look at what to expect when Station Hall’s new exhibition opens to the public in 2024.
The National Railway Museum has said that the new exhibition will follow four main themes which will guide visitors through the space. The first theme, ‘The Station is a World In Itself’ will explore the unique landscape, rules and experiences of the station.
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This theme will include the museum’s Waterloo Station WHSmith bookstall kiosk on display for the first time, following an extensive restoration process.
The second theme ‘Innovation, Influence and Inspiration’ will display the museum’s collection of six royal carriages alongside new interpretation and imagery to tell the stories of the impact of royals travelling by rail.
‘Work and Play’ will explore how rail travel has becoming more widespread and affordable has changed the way people work, play and live today. This will include the museum’s LMS sleeper carriage, Midland Railway dining carriage and reproductions from the museum’s collection of railway travel posters.
The final theme ‘The Goods Life’ will reference Station Hall’s past working life as a busy freight station and will focus on the often-hidden elements of the railways that helped shape modern life. Objects in this section will include a fish van, a banana van, and a prosthetic leg issued by the Great Western Railway to Harold Jarvis – a member of staff who was injured in a shunting accident.
Joe Randall, Interpretation Developer at the National Railway Museum, said:
“Station Hall will immerse visitors in an historic railway landscape, surrounded by the diverse, inspiring and powerful stories of real people and the tangible assets that illustrate them. The space will feel alive and encourage people to relate their own experiences to those of people from the past to create meaningful connections.
“We want to keep the atmosphere of the station that people love but enhance the experience with more stories and collection items. The new themes and stories will give context to the space and help visitors to explore our unique collection for themselves.”
Archive films and new large-scale reproductions of photographs from the museum’s collection will help to illustrate the four themes. Oral histories from real people telling their stories in their own words will also be an important part of the new exhibition.
The exhibition has received significant funding from the Friends of the National Railway Museum.
Alongside Station Hall’s exhibition, the Grade II-listed building is also receiving a £10.5m programme of conservation and repair works which includes replacing the roof. Funded by DCMS (Department for Culture Media and Sport) from the Public Bodies Infrastructure Fund, the National Railway Museum has recently appointed John Graham Construction Ltd as principal contractor to work with conservation architects Buttress to deliver the programme of works.
Before roof work could begin, the museum’s conservation team worked with scaffolding contractors 3D Scaffolding to create bespoke wrapping and protective platforms for many of the museum’s royal carriages. This is enabling work to take place above them without endangering the carriages below. As part of the plans, Station Hall’s café will also reopen following the modernisation and expansion of the kitchen, venue hire will resume and the award-winning afternoon tea venue ‘Countess of York’ will reopen in an authentic railway carriage inside the hall.