After a few failed attempts to get up to York mainly due to crappy British weather, we finally got up there to see Tim Peake’s Soyuz TMA–19M at the National Railway Museum in York.
This killed two birds with one stone. We got to do Space geekiness and Railway geekiness in one visit.
The Soyuz is on display at the National Railway Museum until 8th March 2018, so there’s not long to go before it finishes it’s run, as already mentioned, I’d hoped to have nailed this post much earlier, but thing’s just were not going our way with planning a day trip to York, and even this one had a slight problem, which I’ll get too later.
For what it’s worth if you’re reading this post for information on the Soyuz and it’s been and gone, here is the rest of it’s tour dates:
- Museum of Science + Industry—Manchester
10 March 2018 – 13 May 2018
- National Museum of Scotland—Edinburgh
Mid-May – mid-Aug 2018
- Venue 6 (competition slot)
tbc mid-Aug – mid-Nov 2018
- National Museum Wales—Cardiff
Mid-Nov 2018 – Jan 2019
- National Museums Northern Ireland: Ulster Museum—Belfast
Mid-Feb 2019 – mid-May 2019
More information can also be found here.
Let’s talk about the space stuff first.
The Soyuz itself can be found on the turntable in the Great Hall. It’s important to mention this because The Great Hall can actually be easy to miss. When you enter the National Railway Museum you naturally walk straight on, but the grand hall is actually off to the right and kind of veers off behind you. So it’s easy to miss when you first enter the Museum, and on our way out it was pretty obvious a lot of people where missing this part of the Museum out, thinking just the Station Hall and Yard were the main section. Which is easy to do considering entry to the Museum is free, you might actually think that, that’s simply it!
As we went on a Saturday, and also between half term, it was very busy, there was also a festival going on, which we’ll get to later which may or may not have added to the busyness, so be prepared to be patient in order to take a photo, and if it is busy you can forget having your photo taken with it the background, as there’s just too many people about. The Parachute can also be seen being lifted up towards the ceiling.
We were smart enough to book ahead the night before for the Space Descent VR experience. Something we should have done for many of the other attractions in York as well. This added extra is an additional £6 and is basically a VR experience of the Soyuz landing and you’re narrated through the whole thing by Tim. This is good fun, but wasn’t as good as I had hoped. I was kind of hoping for an outside Soyuz experience of the descent, but majority of it was from inside the Soyuz where you didn’t really feel much motion, but it gave you a feel for how claustrophobic the Soyuz capsule is and there were some excellent look around scenes with the International Space Station and of Earth itself especially following the sunrise around the curve of our planet.
Other activates included a Spacecraft talk and an imagination station video in one of the train carriages back in the main station hall.
You could have a photo of yourself taken in a highly sponsored Spacesuit, however the queue was massive (which was to become a running theme for the day), so we didn’t bother.
It would have been good to have some more space stuff on show, but alas that was it.
However thankfully, we are also train geeks, and the grand hall was an absolute blast to be in, I think we were actually in there for well over 2 hours looking at all the trains on show, from stream trains to diesels, to the eurostar and even a bullet train. Some of these things were huge. Especially the Mallard and the Duchess of Hamilton which are gorgeous. Some of the steam locos are also from around the world.
As we left the National Railway Museum the queue to enter was huge.
Off we went onto our travels to then explore some more of York.
During this weekend there was a Viking festival happening, which is apparently, one of the largest of it’s kind in Europe. The last time we had decent weather to come to York after the much anticipated January payday there was a residents festival on, so we gave it a miss, thinking it would be too busy. Following weekends were complete wash outs before this one, and with time running out to see the Soyuz here, we decided to chance it. Now I’m not sure if York is always this busy, or if it was because of the Viking festival. York is a big tourist attraction, and pretty much everywhere was rammed. It was literally bump into people constantly busy.
This was the queue just to go into Betty’s cafe at about noon.
There were also huge queues to get into York Dungeons and of course the Jorvik Viking Centre, which literally had a queue all around the square, with a huge waiting time to enter. So a number of things that we would have liked to have done we didn’t. I would therefore advise if you are visiting on a weekend or during half term, or a festival. Book your tickets ahead for the attractions, and give yourself enough time to get from one to the next.
We instead took a walk around the Shambles shops, visited the Minister and watched some Viking re-enactments before calling it a day on our visit to York. I think we’ll probably come back again quite soon as we didn’t get to fully experience many of the other things we’d have liked to have done, and it was also lucky we arrived early in the morning to get to the rail museum before the queues got too big there too.
Overall York is a great looking medieval walled City and everyone is really friendly. I thoroughly recommend a visit.