Covid 'railway heroes' to star as York’s National Railway Museum reveals reopening plans

The National Railway Museum in York will showcase the vital role played by railway key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

From transporting medical supplies to helping set up Nightingale hospitals and sewing personal, protective equipment (PPE), many rail workers have gone the extra mile during the pandemic as well as working to keep passengers and freight moving around the clock.

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Families and rail enthusiasts will soon be able to enjoy the photographic exhibition, named Railway Heroes - that recognises the selfless achievements of 16 people from across the rail industry who have played an essential part in the country’s Covid-19 response - in York

Work is well underway for the reopening of the National Railway Museum in York on Wednesday 19 May including deep cleans at the Museum by the conservation team. Photo credit: Charlotte Graham

As restrictions continue to ease the museum's pre-booked tickets are available online from today, (Monday 26 April), with the reopening of the museum to the public on Wednesday 19 May.

Stephanie Hart, who works in the IT services at Network Rail and whose story is part of the exhibition, said: “The railways have so many people with different skill sets – it was amazing to see people making items for the NHS, putting up hospital beds, delivering food parcels and medication and giving up their time to volunteer to help others.

“I really feel we’ve been able to add so much more than simply running a railway.”

The museum based on Leeman Road, which houses more than 100 carriages and locomotives, temporarily closed as part of the national lockdown on 31 December.

Photographer Charlotte Graham, picture standing in front of the photography new exhibition 'Railway Heroes'. Charlotte is responsible for all the 16 portraits taken in this exhibition. Photo credit: Charlotte Graham

This meant the Railway Heroes exhibition first launched online in February this year and since then, it has had more than 10,000 views.

This will be the first-time people can see the physical exhibition with every profile on display together in the Great Hall.

From 19 May, visitors will also be able to enjoy a new audio trail of the history of the museum, with the tour taking listeners back to a time when the museum’s Great Hall was a busy engine shed and Station Hall was a working goods depot.

Prepared by the museum’s curatorial and exhibition teams, the trail features ten locations which explore York’s railway history, including the Baedeker bombing raids of 1942 which badly damaged parts of the city - there is a plaque in Great Hall today marking the spot where bombs fell.

Pictured, Penny Bond MBE with the new exhibition, which her portrait features in. The National Railway museum is currently preparing for opening with the 'Railway Heroes' exhibition. Photo credit: Charlotte Graham

To visit the museum, people are being asked to observe social distancing, wear a facemask (unless exempt) and book online in advance. Ticket numbers will be limited to timed slots to help keep people safe and entry will remain free of charge.

The popular road train that runs between the museum and Duncombe Place next to York Minster, will also be running a regular service from 19 May. During May half term, family visitors can take part in free, pop-up science activities and demonstrations.

Judith McNicol, the director of the National Railway Museum, said: "As we reopen it is important to state that the safety of our visitors and our colleagues comes first, and we have made sure that a trip to the museum remains an enjoyable and safe experience for everyone."

She added: "It is my hope that this will be our last 'reopening' as the Covid risk continues to ease and we can continue to welcome back our visitors to enjoy Railway Heroes, our audio trail and everything else the museum has to offer."

The National Railway museum in York is preparing for opening in May. Pictured a team member for the conservation team cleaning. Photo credit: Charlotte Graham

The National Railway Museum will be open from 10am – 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday (Monday to Sunday over school holidays).

The Great Hall café, shop and indoor and outdoor play areas as well as South Yard will reopen from 19 May, although passenger rides, the miniature railway, open store and visitor talks will resume later in the year.

To book tickets for the National Railway Museum, visit here.

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