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Go loco for locos – at the UK’s railway museums

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Source: The Guardian

Blighty has some fantastic rail museums – take the train to one of them and immerse yourself in a bit of railway history. But make sure you keep up to date with the latest rail deals too, by checking our journey planner for cheap train tickets before you set off.

Read on to learn more about three of the UK’s best railway museums …

Take the train…to York

Hop aboard the train to York and take a journey into the past at the National Railway Museum. The museum’s main site is on Leeman Road, just a few minutes’ walk from York Station, so it’s simple to get to.

With more than 100 trains to see, including the ‘Mallard’, the ‘Duchess of Hamilton’ and the ‘Evening Star’ steam locomotives, and a wide range of historic carriages and wagons, railway buffs will find plenty to keep them occupied.

The museum also houses a whole host of other exhibits tracing the history of the railway from the nineteenth century to the present day, including vintage railway posters, train-themed art works, signs, uniforms, tickets and model trains.

There are some fantastic events going on at the National Railway Museum in York during 2012 too – for a magical family day out, head to the museum during ‘Wizard Week’, from 11 – 19 February, to see the steam train from the Harry Potter movies.

Alternatively, you can take part in Railfest 2012, Britain’s biggest rail celebration, which takes place during 2 – 10 June 2012. You’ll get a chance to see more than 30 locomotives up close, including the newly restored ‘Flying Scotsman’.

And if that’s not enough rail regalement for you, make a weekend of it and spend a day at the National Railway Museum’s second site at Shildon, County Durham – just an hour’s train ride from York.

Take the train…to Swindon

Find out about the history of the Great Western Railway – take the train to Swindon and visit STEAM.

Great Western Railway (GWR) was founded in the nineteenth century and provided the South-West and West of England with much-needed rail links to London. Engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the GWR was often referred to as ‘God’s Own Railway’ and you can find out more about it at STEAM, the Museum of the Great Western Railway.

The museum is situated about 15 – 20 minutes’ walk, or a short taxi ride, from Swindon Station, on the site of the former Swindon Railway Works, and its exhibits include reconstructions of GWR’s offices, foundry and workshops, as well as a reconstructed station platform and exhibits relating to the GWR’s history as the ‘Holiday Line’. It also houses a collection of historic locomotives and rolling stock, and a library and archive.

STEAM has a packed programme of events for 2012 too, with highlights including the Sci-Fi at STEAM Exhibition (11 February – 31 May), the Swindon Railway Festival (15 – 16 September) and Christmas at STEAM (1 -2 December).

Take the train…to Betws-y-Coed

Escape to the charming village of Betws-y-Coed, in the Snowdonia National Park, Wales, and take some time to explore the Conwy Valley Railway Museum. The museum is right next to Betws-y-Coed railway station, and you can take a train to Llandudno and then get a connecting Conwy Valley Line service to Betws-y-Coed.

As well as a collection or locomotives and rolling stock, attractions at the Conwy Valley Railway Museum include a miniature steam railway, an electric tramcar, a collection of railway memorabilia and a scenic model railway.

Model railway enthusiasts will also love the on-site model shop, which stocks a huge selection of model trains and accessories, diecast planes and cars, model kits and books. And you can also stop off for a bit to eat in the atmospheric Buffet Car Café.

Whichever railway museum you decide to visit, make sure you check out our journey planner first for cheap train tickets.

Which is your favourite British railway museum? Let us know below…

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