York Central and our future vision

York Central is an exciting development scheme for York with enormous potential to deliver economic growth, jobs and sustainable housing for the city. It offers the greatest opportunity for the museum since we opened in 1975. We want to be the cultural heart of the new development - find out the latest news on this page.

York Central takes a step forward with Central Enterprise Zone support

On 8 July, The York Central project took a major step forward, as key partners including the National Railway Museum met with James Wharton MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government who has responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse. The development would represent the biggest investment in the National Railway Museum since its opening in 1975. Read more in our press release.

What is our vision for transformation?

York Central will help us deliver our vision for future transformation and it would represent the single biggest investment for 40 years. While we have the best railway collection in the world, our physical infrastructure is not world-class. York Central would provide the catalyst to transform the museum displays for our visitors, which we aim to grow to over 1 million per year. Our Masterplan comprises six key elements:

  1. Great Hall – Complete renovation of the Victorian-era Great Hall to tell the epic stories of how the railways changed the world. This will include displaying thousands of objects in a new Open Store and opening up of views of engines being prepared in the Prep Bay
  2. Wonderlab – Exciting younger generations about the science and engineering behind the railways
  3. Central Gallery – cornerstone of unique sense of place around Museum Square featuring railways into the future, highlighting what could be possible with engineering technology
  4. South Yard – enhancing the outdoor area to provide more green space and to improve the visitor experience
  5. Museum Square – Linking the museum and station with a new public space for York, featuring the historic coal drops at its heart
  6. Road – Re-routing of Leeman Road on to the future York Central road network to enable the Central Gallery and Museum Square, together with removing through traffic from the Salisbury Terrace area

York Central map

Image: Wilkinson Eyre

This transformation will offer enormous benefits to our visitors, residents and visitors to the city including:

  • The chance to become a truly world-class museum that inspires visitors with the epic story of railways
  • New public green spaces and a public square for visitors and residents to enjoy
  • Improved access to our site for those with mobility problems and pushchairs
  • The ability to host major touring exhibitions, normally only seen in capital cities
  • Economic benefits through an increase in visitor numbers, dwell time and overnight stays

Illustration showing what the Wonderlab tinkering area could look like (MUF)


Wonderlab will be a new interactive engineering gallery. It will be based on the hugely successful interactive galleries created by the Science Museum Group at its Bradford and London museums, which have already sparked the curiosity of many thousands of young people.

Wonderlab will create a wonder-filled environment where young minds can discover their own potential through building, testing and learning. This could include the chance to have a go at pulling a locomotive as well as exploring how fast things travel and how they move. A unique ‘tinkering’ workshop space, live demonstrations, live shows and experiments would also inspire the next generation of rail engineers.

Artist's impression of the new Museum Square

Re-routing Leeman Road

York Central will involve the creation of new road access into the development site. Leeman Road splits our site in half and creates a number of challenges to accessing and navigating our site. The current approach is far from world-class and the road makes our site difficult to access for less mobile visitors and those with young children and pushchairs, who have to use steps or lifts.

York Central offers the opportunity to re-route Leeman Road. This would enable a new Central Gallery to be built. This building would join our galleries and provide a proper orientation and welcome space, as well as level access, dramatically improving the experience for our visitors.

New road access would also help facilitate the movement of rail vehicles onto the museum site, which is currently compromised by low bridges.

We encourage York residents and businesses to join us in supporting the re-routing of Leeman Road to enable these benefits to be realised.

Further public consultations on plans for York Central will be held by the City of York Council in Spring 2018. We will update this page with information about our future plans as they develop.

Background: L&SWR Adams 563