Designs for a new permanent exhibition set to open at the National Railway Museum next year have been unveiled.
Created by exhibition designers Drinkall Dean, the images provide an early view of how Station Hall’s new exhibition will look once it opens to the public in 2024.
“The new exhibition will transform and enhance the visitor experience with new stories, objects and interpretation while also retaining many of the hall’s much-loved features and atmosphere,” said a museum spokesperson.
The exhibition has four main themes. ‘The Station is a World In Itself’ will explore the unique landscape and experiences of the station. The museum’s Waterloo Station WHSmith bookstall kiosk will be displayed for the first time, following extensive restoration.
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 show visitors how stations became the starting point for journeys that transformed the way people work, play and live today as rail travel became widespread and more affordable.
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 explore 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.
Carriages wrapped up
The exhibition will feature archive films with projection and shorter clips appearing throughout the gallery. New large-scale reproductions of photographs from the museum’s collection will capture the feel of each section and the hall will benefit from better lighting.
Joe Randall, interpretation developer at the National Railway Museum, said: “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.”
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.
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.
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.
The NRM has appointed John Graham Construction Ltd as principal contractor to work with conservation architects Buttress to deliver the work.