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Director steps down after five successful years

The National Railway Museum announced today that Paul Kirkman is leaving his post as the Director of the National Railway Museum.

Paul joined the Museum in 2012 on secondment from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and has led a range of developments at the Museum, notably the successful return to operation of Flying Scotsman, the world’s most famous locomotive.

The National Railway Museum is about to undergo the greatest changes since it was established in 1975 at Leeman Road in York in a former steam locomotive depot, becoming the very first national museum outside London.

The transformation of the Museum will see a radical overhaul of its main gallery, the Great Hall, to tell the inspirational story of how modern science and engineering are transforming our railways to mark the 200th anniversary of the railways in 2025.

Alongside this, the area between the Museum and York station lies at the heart of the forthcoming York Central development, colloquially called the ‘King’s Cross of the North’, which will catalyse the creation of a new cultural quarter for the city over the next two decades. Paul has led the way in negotiations for these developments but as they move into a new phase, the time is right for a new Director to realise the remarkable potential of this site.

Our aspirations for the next decade are that the Museum, its contents and surroundings are transformed, with visitor numbers growing to over 1 million per year.

“I could not be prouder of the National Railway Museum’s accomplishments during my tenure as Director,” said Mr Kirkman. “Working with the Board, curators, and the Science Museum Group, the Museum is now poised for a giant leap in its development, a major transformation that will change the city and this wonderful museum.” 

Ian Blatchford, Director, Science Museum Group, said:

“Paul has accomplished much during his time at the Museum and we look forward to building on his achievements in coming years, to reimagine the visitor experience so the Museum can demonstrate how modern science and engineering are transforming our railways, and as the York Central development builds momentum.”

Mr Blatchford also announced that he has asked Judith McNicol, Director People and Culture, to serve as interim Director until a successor is appointed.


For more information, please contact Simon Baylis, PR & Communications Manager on 01904 686 299 or at

About the National Railway Museum

Opened in 1975, the National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway locomotives and objects in the world, which includes historic royal carriages and the record-breaking Mallard. Part of the Science Museum Group, the museum is free to enter and attracts more than 700,000 visitors each year.