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National Railway Museum Launches £16.5m Design Competition for New Building

New gallery to showcase future of railway innovation and engineering.

The National Railway Museum in York has launched a competition to find the architect who will design a new £16.5m building to showcase the future of rail engineering and to link the museum site for the first time.

Part of the National Railway Museum’s £55m Vision 2025 masterplan, the 4,500 sqm Central Hall will connect the existing Great Hall and Station Hall buildings and provide additional capacity to welcome up to 1.2m visitors annually.

The museum is already one of the most visited museums in the North of England, welcoming 782,000 visitors in 2018-19, and the development will significantly expand available gallery space and improve accessibility.  

As well as reception spaces, the Central Hall will include a spectacular 1,000 sqm new gallery which will house future acquisitions and innovative technology with a focus on the modern rail industry.  

The building will be complete and open to the public in 2025—50 years after the museum first opened and 200 years since the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

The Vision 2025 masterplan comprises eight projects which will transform the National Railway Museum into a world-class visitor attraction. These include the Central Hall, extensive landscaping of South Yard and redisplaying the museum’s famous Great Hall.

Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum, said:

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Central Hall to our future. It will unify our site, sensitively connecting historic railway buildings and providing a stunning new welcome to our visitors. It will be a place where we can showcase the cutting-edge innovations of today alongside the engineering triumphs of the past; a place where we can inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists, inventors and problem-solvers.”

The National Railway Museum is working with internationally renowned architectural competition specialists Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) who bring a wealth of global experience in cultural development projects.

The competition is being run in accordance with EU procurement guidelines and the UK Public Contracts Regulations 2015. After initial expressions of interest, at least five shortlisted teams will move on to stage two, where they will produce design concepts for the new building.

They will also be able to propose enhancements to some of the fabric, infrastructure and organisation of the existing adjoining buildings which may be delivered by the appointed project team.

As part of a wide-ranging public engagement process, the National Railway Museum will hold an exhibition of designs in February 2020. The winner is expected to be announced in March 2020.

The competition is open to international integrated design teams that include architects, structural, civil and services engineers. The first stage deadline is 16 October 2019. For more details visit

Malcolm Reading, Competition Director, said: “The National Railway Museum has a world-class collection and is at the heart of one of the UK’s most historic cities. This is a project which promises to transform the museum’s physical identity and re-launch it for the next 50 years. It is an opportunity to create an outstanding piece of architecture that speaks to the adjoining galleries and the wider regeneration of York Central.”

The National Railway Museum’s Vision 2025 development is poised to become the cultural anchor of the wider York Central development, which is one of the largest city centre brownfield regeneration projects in the UK.

York Central is a 45-hectare development created in partnership with Network Rail, Homes England, the National Railway Museum and City of York Council. It promises to transform the Leeman Road area of the city, redeveloping former railway land to create 2,500 homes, 20 per cent of which will be affordable, and a commercial quarter creating up to 6,500 jobs.

The development has achieved outline planning consent and is currently awaiting the allocation of central government funding.



National Railway Museum
Simon Baylis

01904 686 299



Malcolm Reading Consultants
Laurel Quinn

0207 831 2998

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, equipment, documents, 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:

About Malcolm Reading Consultants

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is a strategic architectural consultancy that helps clients to imagine and define contemporary environments; MRC is the leading global specialist in devising and managing international design competitions.

Since 1996, MRC have developed an extensive global network of contacts, an outstanding portfolio of completed projects, and an international reputation for fairness and transparency. MRC believes in the power of design to act as an inspiration.

Recent work includes competitions for the Houston Endowment (US); MK:U (UK); the Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta (Australia); the Cambridge to Oxford Connection (UK); University College Dublin (Ireland); Gallaudet University (Washington, D.C., US); Kaunas M.K. Čiurlionis Concert Centre (Lithuania); the Royal College of Art (UK); the V&A (UK); the Mumbai City Museum (India); and new buildings for the UK’s New College, Oxford and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.

For more information about MRC, visit