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National Railway Museum celebrates award win

Brass, Steel and Fire wins prestigious national award.

The National Railway Museum has won the prestigious 2020 Heritage Railway Association (HRA) Award for Interpretation.

The award, sponsored by Mortons Media via Heritage Railway magazine, has been presented for the museum’s interpretation of the free exhibition Brass, Steel and Fire.

Launched in September, the exhibition features more than 20 of the country’s oldest model locomotives, which have been brought together for the first time.

Brass, Steel and Fire delves into the stories of the ordinary people who, fascinated by innovations like Rocket, crafted extraordinary machines entirely from scratch. Through innovative interpretation, visitors learn how these historic small-scale experiments pushed the boundaries of engineering and influenced the course of the Industrial Revolution.

Amongst the items on display is the world’s oldest model locomotive, Salamanca, on loan from Leeds Museums and Galleries. In addition, the model Topsy, on loan from Ffestiniog Railway in Wales, helped spread the adoption of narrow-gauge railways around the world.

The research and content of Brass, Steel and Fire was led by Senior Curator Anthony Coulls and the design and display by Interpretation Developer Laura Bootland. The exhibition was designed by Simon Leach Design and built by Yorkshire-based firm The Workhaus.

As part of Brass, Steel and Fire visitors have also been able to get up close to Stephenson’s legendary Rocket, which shaped the future of the railways in 1829.

This isn’t the first time the National Railway Museum has won big at the HRA Awards. Back in 2014 the museum was awarded 'The Peter Manisty Award' for exhibitions to mark the 75th anniversary of Mallard’s speed record.

Brass, Steel and Fire is on display at the National Railway Museum until April 13 when it will head down to London to go on display at the Science Museum, although Rocket will stay in York.

Laura Bootland, Interpretation Developer at the National Railway Museum, said:

“We’re really honoured to receive the HRA Award for Interpretation. By bringing together these unique models we’ve been able to tell the stories of the ordinary people who crafted these magnificent machines. It’s been wonderful to see so many people visiting Brass, Steel and Fire to marvel at these tiny models which brought about big change.”

The HRA’s annual awards night, where the 2020 winners in other categories will be announced, will be held in Birmingham on 8 February.


For more information, please contact:

Peter Livesey, Communications Officer
+44 (0)1904 809 646

Simon Baylis, PR & Press Manager
+44 (0)1904 686 299

About the National Railway Museum

  • The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts more than 750,000 visitors per year
  • The collection includes over 260 locomotives and rolling stock, 600 coins and medals as well as railway uniform and costume, equipment, documents, records, artwork and photographs
  • The National Railway Museum forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and Locomotion in Shildon
  • Admission to the National Railway Museum is free, for more information visit: