Welcome to the Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum entry in the Trains For Kids Days Out Guide. Below you will find everything you need to know about this railway attraction. This includes what to expect during a visit, what facilities there are to make the day with the family run smoothly and what special activities and shopping can be found there.
About Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum
Known now as Head of Steam but previously as Darlington Railway Museum, the museum is well-placed to help you explain the history of steam railways. Literally. It is situated on the 1825 route of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which was the world’s first steam-powered passenger railway. It also houses Stephenson’s Locomotion No1. There are a wide variety of attractions and activities for children.
What you will see
One of the best ways to ensure the kids and you see everything at Head of Steam is to get one of the rail clipboards at reception and set out on an adventure around the museum to find the answers to the questions on the trail. The standout features though are the original 1840s railway station, where time has stood still for over one hundred and fifty years, and four historic locomotives including the star attraction, Stephenson’s Locomotion No1.
In terms of collections, there naturally is a skew to those that represent the development and operation of railways in Northeast England, but due to the importance of the Stockton & Darlington Railway and presence of items from London & North Eastern Railway and British Railways there is also a national feel. Expect to see everything from maps, photos, through to tools and equipment used on the railways, through to toys and models, and of course locomotives and wagons themselves.
There is also a children’s activity room for youngsters to learn and play. It’s nice to note that craft activities are included in the price for normal admission or annual passes.
A video to get the kids excited
(Best I could find – slightly odd music)
Special train events for kids
Head of Steam has special events on for Halloween (Little Boo! Spooky Fun Day), Easter and Christmas (Santa at the Station). Other events run throughout the year, notably crafts during school holidays but also a summer event that is aimed at families and changes theme each year.
Head of Steam doesn’t organise parties but the meeting room can be booked for people to organise their own.
Head of Steam does not have a café but does sell some basic refreshments (tea, coffee, soft drinks and snacks) from reception. The best bet is for families to eat their own packed lunches at the tables provided in the museum.
The museum has one baby changing room. Additional toilets are provided on the event days that become busier than normal.
Buggies and pushchairs can be taken into the museum. As there is no area for their storage, they need to be kept with you.
As to be expected, the museum has a shop for souvenirs and this includes certain railway-related toys.
When to go
The museum closes on Mondays from April to September, and Mondays and Tuesdays the rest of the year.
Head of Steam’s prices are below but watch out for special offers on annual passes during school holidays.
Getting to Head of Steam
Aim for free car park at the museum (DL3 6ST) or a few minutes from North Road Railway Station (on the Saltburn v Bishop Auckland line).
Key links and contacts
Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum,
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