Tuesday, 3 November 2009

I have seen the future and it may be Dutch

(Above, good fun at Utrecht Railway Museum; below, the museum train the Heimwee Express in action. It stables in the former display area to the left)

A lot has happened to us this last week. We turned 50. For what we did see http://robertatforsythe.blogspot.com/2009/11/reached-50-and-reached-killhope-cross.html . Before that we went en famille to the Netherlands and to the Utrecht Railway Museum and Eurospoor. First time to the latter, breath-taking. Been to the railway museum in 1972 and 1981. Knew it had been entirely re-vamped. Very interesting to go again. Broadly in favour. Some surprise at how little there was in the old museum area but that was partly because it has become an operational station as we discovered by enjoying a train ride to Hilversum and back on a genuine Dogs Head EMU. Across the lines and into the new building is where it really happens. The actual display of trains appeared a bit ragged. Some favourites seemed missing. That is because the new core is four high tech chronologically themed pods. Once you get into these, you have an experience. We only had time to do two. There are queuing issues and this sort of interpretation is neither cheap to put in or maintain. However it is quite awesome. I would doubt there is any railway exhibition in the world in the genre of 1920-1970's pod, the Steel Monsters. It takes the form of a ghost train ride in four seater cars. A fair amount of terror is induced in a darkened trip which confronts trams and massive steam engines. You appear to hurtle to personal disaster before at the last moment descending into a pit and examining the underneath of the murdersome locomotive. For many folk great fun. Actually our daughter was somewhat alarmed at 9 1/2 and no overt warnings in English had been noticed. The leaflet said this particular display was entrancing. It is more than that. Away from the pods, I enjoyed the model gallery and the play area complete with self propelled ferry and pump trolley is right up there with the best. I would not be at all surprised if what has happened at Utrecht is at least considered in the thinking for what happens with NRM +. I think it fair to question whether your icons can only be experienced in such a programmed manner.

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