We'd visited the NRM in York last year, so when staying in the Durham area earlier this month (July 2014) we decided to see what the National Railway Museum in Shildon was like, we had heard good reports!
Situated in Shldon, County Durham with good road links (Sat Nave postcode is DL4 2RE),the railway museum is situated next door to Shildon Station which is served by Northern Rail, There are also regular bus services from Bishop Auckland and Darlington.
The museum is open 10-5 in the Summer and 10-4 in the Winter. It is open all year except 24th, 25th, December and 1st January.
Entry is free (donations are much appreciated.)
We travelled by car, there is plenty of car parking available at the museum, this includes a car park for disabled visitors.
We were given an Orientation map on arrival which we found useful as this partially open air museum is arranged in a series of sheds/buildings.
The locomotives are displayed in The Collection Building which is spacious and airy. This building also houses the café called Platform 7 where we stopped to enjoy a coffee.
The locomotives, carriages and wagons have been meticulously restored and maintained and make an eye catching display. Beside each one information on their history is shown.
Apart from the magnificent locomotives and coaches there is an excellent collection of images (video and voice) and articles on railway history. There is a vast supply of magazines and books. Research facilities are available.
There are a series of buildings to see for example. The Goods Store, The Soho building – thought to be the oldest building in Shildon it started life as an Iron Merchants Store before becoming a railway workshop. The Hackworth Building contains information on Timothy Hackworth who arrived in Shildon in 1825 to become resident engineer for the Stockton to Darlington Railway – the first railway in the world. .
There is a children's playground to keep the grandchildren entertained and a well stocked gift shop.
The museum is disabled friendly/wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair hire is available – please book in advance. ~There is some walking between buildings, however I was told there is an Accessible Bus – please contact in advance to enquire about this. The café has level access, There are wheelchair accessible W.C's.
The museum is smaller than NRM York but no less interesting!. Staff are helpful and friendly, we had an enjoyable time here and will return.