Tag Archives: Museums

Yorkshire, England – York, The National Railway Museum

The Mallard National Railway Museum York

In my last post I was in the city of York and I made reference to the National Railway Museum.

This is a post from five years ago about a visit that I made there.

Yorkshire, England – York, The National Railway Museum and Speed Records

Number_4468_Mallard_in_York

Travels in Spain, Museums

Kim doesn’t always share my enthusiasm for Museums.  She sat this one out but from the garden outside caught me looking at the exhibits through a window.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Time – World Speed Records

The Mallard National Railway Museum York

I suppose I have to concede that the most famous and best loved steam locomotive is the Flying Scotsman, but my personal favourite is  the garter blue LNER Mallard, a class A4 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive, designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and built at Doncaster, England in 1938.

I visited the National Rail Museum in York just to see it and was not disappointed when I got up close in the exhibition hall, taking pride of place it gleams to almost impossible perfection along the entire length of  its fashion-model, streamlined body – it must take several hours every evening to get the fingerprints of the admiring visitors removed!

The Mallard is the current record holder of the world speed record for a steam locomotive which it achieved in 1938 by reaching a speed of 126 mph (203 kmh) in Lincolnshire between Grantham and Peterborough.  It is difficult to imagine what this must have felt like as the one hundred and seventy tonne engine and tender dragged its coaches at top speed over railway lines that were designed for much lower speeds, the noise and the shaking must have been unimaginable.  To see what it might have been like I paid £4 to take a ride in a simulator which tried to recreate the record breaking attempt.

In the 1930s some people were obsessed with speed and breaking records.  In the same year that Mallard broke the steam powered record a man called Rudolf Caracciola drove a Mercedes-Benz W125 Rekordwagen at a speed of 268 mph (433 kmh) on a German Autobahn which is a record that still stands as the fastest ever officially timed speed on a public road.

In February 1938 Squadron Leader J.W. Gillan flew an RAF Hawker Hurricane fighter plane from Edinburgh to London in forty-eight minutes and achieved a record land plane speed of 409 mph (660 kmh).  I expect that he was in a bit of a rush to get back to the officer’s mess before closing time!

Also in 1938 Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the water speed record in Bluebird K3 when he achieved a speed of 141 mph (227 kmh) on Lake Maggoire in Switzerland.  In the following year he broke the record again in K4 on Lake Coniston in the Lake District in England.

The Mallard National Railway Museum York

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

Naxos Cathedral Tour

In one room there was a pot-pourri of treasures that really deserved to be in a proper museum where they could be looked after properly.  She dragged them out of boxes and held them in her frail hands and in a rhapsodical way accompanied by extravagant arm gestures as though she were conducting an orchestra kept imploring us to “look at this, look at this!”  

At one point she opened an illuminated manuscript and declared it to be five hundred years old but she turned the pages over as though it was a copy of last week’s Radio Times.

Read the full story…

Yorkshire, England – York, The National Railway Museum and Speed Records

The Mallard National Railway Museum York

I dedicate this post to the memory of Kate of roughseasinthemed, a woman of spirit who loved everything Yorkshire (and Gibraltar).

In the morning the sky remained stubbornly steely grey and there was a steady pitter-patter of rain against the window and I instantly remembered another reason why I don’t really like going away in England – the weather is just so unreliable!

This presented us with a dilemma.  Our original plan was to drive north to Thirsk and visit nearby Rieveaux Abbey and then drive home on a scenic route through the East Riding but the weather was just so gloomy that this didn’t seem sensible so we debated our options and decided to go to York and the National Railway Museum and after an excellent ‘full English’ breakfast we paid up, said our goodbyes and moved on.

It isn’t very far from Harrogate to York and Kim must have been working on her timing because as we approached the outskirts of the city she proposed that perhaps I would prefer to go and see the National Railway Museum by myself while she went shopping instead.  I was quite unable to understand why anyone would prefer shopping to steam engines but I agreed of course and we set about finding a convenient car park.

And here is another reason I don’t like visiting English tourist cities – £7 to park the car for three hours, which is absolutely scandalously excessive and would probably even have had the York highwayman Dick Turpin blushing with embarrassment. So, car parked, wallet emptied, Kim made for the shops and I went in the opposite direction towards the Railway Station.

There was a long queue at the museum entrance which struck me as strange as there is free admission (it is aligned to the Science Museum in London)* but the reason was simple – there was a registration desk where visitors expecting a freebie were being shamed into making a contribution.  Apparently the Museum is at risk because of under-funding so, here’s an idea, just abandon the stupid free admission to museums policy and charge people to go inside and the funding crisis is solved.  (I should be a politician or a policy-maker, I’d get things sorted out)!

I had wanted to go the National Railway Museum for a long time and I was not disappointed.  I started in the smaller of the two halls where there was a collection of Royal trains and carriages before going outside to the open air part of the museum where there was the chance to take a short steam engine ride.  There was a price to pay so I naturally declined!

After that I went to the grand hall where there is a collection of some of the UK’s iconic steam engines including my personal favourite, the garter blue LNER Mallard (Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive built at Doncaster, England in 1938) gleaming to almost impossible perfection along the entire length of  its fashion-model, streamlined body – it must take several hours every evening to get the fingerprints of the admiring visitors removed!

The Mallard Record Breaking Speed York

The Mallard is the current record holder of the world speed record for a steam locomotive which it achieved in 1938 by reaching a speed of 125 mph (203 kmh) in Lincolnshire between Grantham and Peterborough.  It is difficult to imagine what this must have felt like as the massive one hundred and seventy tonne engine and tender dragged its coaches at top speed over railway lines that were designed for much lower speeds, the noise and the shaking must have been unimaginable.  To see what it might have been like I paid £4 to take a ride in a simulator which tried to recreate the record breaking attempt.

In the 1930s some people were obsessed with speed and breaking records.  In the same year that Mallard broke the steam powered record a man called Rudolf Caracciola drove a Mercedes-Benz W125 Rekordwagen at a speed of 268 mph (433 kmh) on a German Autobahn which is a record that still stands as the fastest ever officially timed speed on a public road.

In February 1938 Squadron Leader J.W. Gillan flew an RAF Hawker Hurricane fighter plane from Edinburgh to London in forty-eight minutes and achieved a record land plane speed of 409 mph (660 kmh).  I expect that he was in a bit of a rush to get back to the officer’s mess before closing time!

Also in 1938 Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the water speed record in Bluebird K3 when he achieved a speed of 141 mph (227 kmh) on Lake Maggoire in Switzerland.  In the following year he broke the record again in K4 on Lake Coniston in the Lake District in England.

Time was passing by now and it looked as though I might have to attempt a speed record of my own if I was to see all of the exhibits in the Museum before returning to the car park for the agreed rendezvous time with Kim.  I failed in this task because there was just too much to see in the memorabilia section of the Museum so I left thinking that one day soon I may have to return.

The journey home was simply awful.  It rained continuously and there were hold ups, road works and diversions for what seemed like the entire drive and I found myself sympathising with motorists trying to get in and out of Gibraltar when the Spanish border police start playing up.

Number_4468_Mallard_in_York

* Other Free Admission Museums in the UK:

  • Imperial War Museum, London
  • Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester
  • National Coal Mining Museum for England, Wakefield
  • National Football Museum, Preston
  • National Maritime Museum, London
  • National Museums Liverpool
  • Science Museum, London
  • Natural History Museum, London
  • National History Museum, Tring, Hertfordshire
  • People’s History Museum, Manchester
  • Royal Armouries, Leeds
  • Victoria & Albert, London

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

Naxos Cathedral Tour

Ancient Treasure…

In one room there was a pot-pourri of treasures that really deserved to be in a proper museum where they could be looked after properly.  She dragged them out of boxes and held them in her frail hands and in a rhapsodical way accompanied by extravagant arm gestures as though she were conducting an orchestra kept imploring us to “look at this, look at this!”  At one point she opened an illuminated manuscript and declared it to be five hundred years old but she turned the pages over as though it was a copy of last week’s Radio Times.

Read the full story…

My Personal Greek A to Ω – N (Nu) is for Νάξος or Naxos

After taking the bus into Naxos town we walked to the top of the town to find the Venetian Cathedral tour that was highly recommended in the Island hopping guidebook.  We waited around in the courtyard outside the Cathedral and not a lot seemed to be happening and we wondered if we were going to be disappointed.

Eventually an old lady in an extravagant floral blouse and with a worn out old dog for a companion ghosted in from a secret door in an adjacent room and enquired if we were there for the tour and we told her that yes we were.

She went to a great deal of trouble to explain that her English was quite poor and clutching her stomach she told us that her doctor had advised her against speaking in English because this made her ill.  I’m not a medical person you understand but this seemed highly unlikely to me and she had no credible explanation for a diagnosis of stomach cramps just through speaking English and as we set off she proceeded to speak perfectly even though it was in a hushed and croaky voice.

This was really excellent, we were the only people on the tour and we received an exceptional commentary all around the interior and the exterior of the Cathedral.  But then disaster struck as  a group of French people gate crashed the party and after a short debate about language preferences with these unwelcome latecomers she continued for the rest of the tour in about 75% French.  She apologised to us for that and lamented that “English people cannot speak French and French people will not speak English!”  This shouldn’t have surprised us of course, we know how precious they can be about their secondary World language so we just had to accept the inevitable and struggle to make sense of the French and be grateful for the few snippets of English that infrequently came our way.

There is no good reason for the French to be so stuck-up about their language, after all it is only the eighteenth most used in the World, Chinese is first, followed by Spanish and then English.  More people even speak Portuguese (sixth) and worst of all German (tenth).  The French, it seems, need to come to terms with the balance of linguistic power.

Actually, even in a foreign language,  this was an excellent tour and the language difficulty didn’t spoil it one little bit.  Our guide swept us through a museum, a monastery and a simple basilica as we visited buildings and rooms that would simply not be accessible to tourists who did not join the tour.

In one room there was a pot-pourri of treasures that really deserved to be in a proper museum where they could be looked after properly.  She dragged them out of boxes and held them in her frail hands and in a rhapsodical way accompanied by extravagant arm gestures as though she were conducting an orchestra kept imploring us to “look at this, look at this!” 

At one point she opened an illuminated manuscript and declared it to be five hundred years old but she turned the pages over as though it was a copy of last week’s Radio Times.  That sort of thing would never be allowed at the British Museum.  No wonder Lord Elgin took the marbles back to London so they could be looked after!

This was a brilliant tour that allowed us to see something that we would not ordinarily have seen.  It lasted about ninety minutes and then she asked for just €2 each.

Now, I am not usually prone to acts of extravagance but this had been so really, really good that we gave her €5 each and still walked away thinking that we had had an exceptional bargain.

I like sunsets and wanted to see the town from the ancient monument so we went once more to the islet of Palatia and joined all of the other sun worshippers who were gathering here to see the end of the day and another glorious sunset.  It was a very fine sunset indeed. The sun slipped elegantly into the sea and as its golden energy was slowly extinguished and transformed into a solar slick on the surface of the Aegean what left over light remained illuminated the town with a satisfyingly warm orange glow like the dying embers of a really good fire.

The edifice is said to be the unfinished Temple of Apollo and the famous Portara, the temple’s gate and Naxos’ trademark, doubles as a sun worshipping monument and it certainly looked spectacular tonight framed against the burning sky.  We stayed until it was dark and the orange flame of the sunset had been replaced by an inky blue sky that provided a dramatic backdrop to the sparkling lights of Naxos town.

Later we walked back out of the town and had another excellent meal at Nico’s restaurant where we ordered far more than we could comfortably eat and feeling good after an excellent day and having consumed more alcohol than was sensible we hired a vehicle for sightseeing on the following day.

But that’s another story… Read it here…

Latvian Ethnic Open Air Museum

The next morning we were delighted to be woken early by shafts of razor sharp sunlight piercing the paper-thin bedroom curtains and blazing radiantly into the room.  I really don’t object to being woken like this.

We had another full day planned but for some the pace was beginning to tell.  Mark had decided in advance to skip the morning session to recover from his late night out and May choose to stay in the city for some solo retail therapy.  This was absence through choice; Nick on the other hand had planned to be there but he had rejected my sensible advice and had given himself a monster hangover and was quite unable to leave his hotel room because of his ferocious headache and constant vomiting.

Read the full story…