Artist's impression of the National Railway Museum redevelopment. Image: Wikinson Eyre and Gustafson Porter and Bowman

National Railway Museum consults on £50m masterplan

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 01.08.2018
Museum may consider future HLF bid after disappointment earlier this year
The National Railway Museum (NRM) in York has unveiled further details of its £50m masterplan, which is proceeding despite missing out on a £13.4m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant earlier this year.

In the past week the museum, part of the Science Museum Group, has held onsite consultations with visitors and residents on its vision for the redevelopment, which it aims to have completed in time for its 50th anniversary in 2025.

The vision forms part of York City Council’s wider redevelopment plan for the area, which will create a new neighbourhood known as York Central on a brownfield site alongside the museum.

The NRM masterplan comprises six elements: a redevelopment of its existing Great Hall gallery; a Wonderlab interactive gallery about the science and engineering behind railways; a newly built central gallery to connect the two halves of the museum site, which are currently separated by Leeman Road; a redevelopment of the museum’s south yard to enhance its outdoor green space; the creation of a new public plaza, Museum Square, linking the museum to York Central Station; and the diversion of Leeman Road and creation of a new road to the train station that goes around the museum.

The proposals have already attracted concern from local residents that the diversion of Leeman Road would force pedestrians and cyclists to take a long detour whenever the museum is shut.

In response, the museum has proposed creating an outdoor pedestrian and cycle route that would maintain access through the new central gallery outside of its opening hours, via either a tunnel or a bridge.

It was also announced last month that the museum is to be the long-term home of Stephenson’s Rocket, the 1829 steam locomotive that has been at the Science Museum in London for much of its lifetime, and is currently on display at the Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle-Gateshead. The rare locomotive will be the centrepiece of the NRM’s redesigned Great Hall.   

The consultation comes months after the museum’s £13.4m HLF bid for the Great Hall project was rejected, forcing it to cancel a £600,000 tender for the redesign of the exhibition space.

The museum’s deputy director Andrew McLean told Museums Journal that the rejection of the bid had changed some elements of the delivery timetable but had not affected the museum’s long-term vision.

He said the museum was exploring alternative funding streams and may consider another HLF bid in future.

Competition for HLF grants has been significantly higher this year after a drop in National Lottery ticket sales led the available funding being cut from £435m in 2016-17 to £190m in 2018-19.