The Science Museum Group has shelved its search for a design team for a major £12 million overhaul of the National Railway Museum in York after the Heritage Lottery Fund rejected its funding application
In a statement, the Science Museum Group said: ‘As a result of an unsuccessful funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Railway Museum tender for the design of the Great Hall exhibition has been cancelled. All parties concerned have been informed.
‘The museum’s masterplan and the project to regenerate the Great Hall will still go ahead, but we are reviewing the phasing and timescales. Another tender with a revised brief will be issued at a later date.’
The winner of the £600,000 tender – issued in March – would have drawn up plans for an ambitious redisplay and reinterpretation of the museum’s 8,300m² Great Hall exhibition space which has changed little since the landmark museum opened inside a former railway depot more than 40 years ago.
A total of 155 companies expressed an interest in the project with 27 completing the online pre-qualification questionnaire. A shortlist had been identified but not yet invited to the second stage by the time the tender was cancelled.
The scheme was intended as the first phase of a wider regeneration masterplan for the city-centre museum scheduled to finish in 2025. Contracts for a new open collections store and 2,300m² ‘Wonderlab’ featuring hands-on galleries and learning spaces designed to inspire future generations of engineers were also due to be tendered separately as part of the masterplan.
The National Railway Museum was created on the former 8.1ha site of the York North Locomotive Depot in 1975 and today features more than 100 power cars and 200 other items of rolling stock. The museum is the largest of its type in the country and receives 750,000 visitors a year.
Its main exhibition space – the Great Hall – was constructed in 1877 as one of nine engine sheds at the York depot housing and preparing steam locomotives for the East Coast Mainline. The enormous structure, which features a giant turntable at its centre, was used to store decommissioned steam trains from 1968 up until its conversion into a museum.
Items on display include Stephenson’s Rocket, the record-breaking Mallard and the only Shinkansen Bullet Train outside Japan.