Station Hall at the National Railway Museum is to undergo a £500K restoration within weeks, to showcase new royal exhibits.
A working depot until the 1970s, Station Hall is home to six royal carriages, including one of the museums most popular attractions – Queen Victoria’s original 1869 saloon.
The project will redisplay the carriages into complete royal trains matched with period locomotives.
A new addition to the hall will be class 47 locomotive, Prince William, one of a select number of locomotives to have hauled the current royal train.
Due to start in spring 2021, the exhibition refresh will see an estimated 200 new collection items and 25 rail vehicles go on display. Work is scheduled to be complete by 2022, subject to wider Vision 2025 and York Central activity.
Also being put on display is an original wooden WH Smith kiosk which would have stood on the platform of Waterloo Station.
The kiosk is currently in the conservation workshop with extensive refurbishment needed before it can be revealed to the public.
The new plans for Station Hall will retain an event space and refurbished café.
Films and stories
The £500,000 refurbishment is being funded by £300K from the Friends of the National Railway Museum, with owners the Science Museum Group providing £200,000 to complete physical improvements to Station Hall’s roof and walls.
The Station Hall project will also explore under-represented stories from railway history. These will include women’s experiences of working for the railways and the first black railway workers from the Windrush generation who helped shape Britain’s post-war railway.
It will also reveal stories around the building itself and the movement of goods around the city and beyond, and will feature archive film, plus stories from the museum’s National Archive of Railway Oral History.
Charlotte Kingston, head of interpretation and design, said: “Station Hall is very popular with our visitors and our changes will be impactful but sympathetic, using new collection items and railway stories to bring the railways to life, while retaining the character of the original building.”
Philip Benham, chairman of the Friends of the National Railway Museum, said: “I am delighted that the Friends are the principal funder of this important project. Over the years we have contributed more than £1.5m towards some 60 museum projects, but this is one of the most significant yet.”
The Station Hall project will take place alongside the museum’s £55.3m, Vision 2025 masterplan which will see the comprehensive regeneration of the National Railway Museum and surrounding area.