The International Steam Pages

The Utrecht Railway Museum

Phil Barnes has supplied a picture of a Marshall portable steam engine here (5th November 2018)..

Robert Hall was here in July 2011 and has added his impressions.

James Waite reports:

Here are a few pics from the Dutch national railway museum you might like to use. We went there for a day trip last Tuesday 22nd January 2008 courtesy of an Easyjet offer. A beautiful sunny day, unlike most of the days we've had recently, though it wasn't terribly relevant at the museum as most of the exhibits in the main hall are safely tucked well away from anything as natural as sunshine! We did enjoy walking back to the station through the old town afterwards in the late afternoon sunshine. Like many Dutch towns it has a historic centre. One of its claims to fame is that the Treaty of Utrecht in 1705 forms the basis to the UK's ownership of Gibraltar.

The museum is based around the old Maliebaan station dating from 1871 on the opposite side of town from Utrecht Centraal - a palatial 18th century building which closed many years ago. Most of the exhibits are housed in a purpose-built hall on the other side of the line from the old station. It dates from the museum's revamp in the early 2000's. There are 11 steam locos as follows:

  • 2-2-2 'De Arend', a replica of the first loco to run in the Netherlands - built in 1938 for the railway's centenary celebrations the following year. The original was Longridge 119/1839 and the replica is Zwolle Works 30/1938. It's 1945mm gauge. 
  • Staatsspoorweg 2-4-0 no. 13 (Beyer Peacock 433/1865). (James originally stated that it had a Belpaire firebox but we stand corrected on this "Nr. 13 is one of the first Dutch engines to have been built with an injector. It also has pumps worked from the crossheads of the piston rods to feed the boiler. Its tender is from nr 8 – a slightly different machine – which was the only engine of a Dutch railway company ever to explode. This happened in the early morning of 31 March 1868 at Harlingen. Nr 8 was rebuilt, but nr 13 kept its tender (13 was a lucky number). Nr. 13 originally had a much smaller 4 wheel tender. It could keep the bigger tender of nr 8 as there was always a surplus of tenders. When an engine went into the overhaul shop, it tended to be there for a few months. The tender only needed to be there for a fortnight, or three weeks at the most." from Ms. Cisca Simons, Conservatrice Techniek. And she has sent a picture, see below, which confirms it! James meant 326 as stated in the text below!)
  • Hollandsche Ijzeren Spoorweg 2-4-0 no. 89 'Nestor' Borsig 3730/1880.
  • Nederlandsche Rhijn Spoorweg 4-4-0 no. 107 (Sharp Stewart 3563/1889).
  • Staatsspoorweg 2-4-0 no. 326 (Beyer Peacock 2101/1881). 
  • Rhijnlandsche Stoomtramweg 0-4-0Tm no. 2 (Merryweather 110/1881).
  • NS 4-4-0 no. 2104 (BMAG 5304/1914).
  • NS 4-6-0 no. 3737 (Werkspoor 272/1911).
  • NS 2-10-0 no. 5085 'Longmoor' (WD/Longmoor Military Ry no. 73755 - NBL 25601/1945). Painted in WD grey. It says on its nameplate that it was the 1000th freight loco built in the UK shipped to Europe after D Day in WW2.
  • NS 4-8-4T no. 6317 (BMAG 10056/1931).
  • PJKA 2-6-6-0 no. CC5022 (Werkspoor 563/1928).

All the locos are standard gauge apart from De Arend and the Javan loco. Note that 5 of the 11 locos are British, or 6 if you include the De Arend replica.

An interesting museum. The revamp involves displays to stimulate small children's imagination etc like most modern museums. There were some nice cameo scenes - a Merryweather steam tram engine in an urban Dutch industrial setting and a replica of the Netherlands's first loco standing in a rural station complete with trees etc. and set in the middle of the night - an interesting touch that as it means you can't see the museum roof and could conceivably really be standing outdoors! 

The WD 2-10-0, the younger BP 2-4-0, the Werkspoor 4-6-0 and the Borsig 2-4-0 are all displayed together in the main hall with a good collection of rolling stock. The BP 2-4-0 326 is a delightful outside framed loco, beautifully restored although it has a Belpaire firebox which I imagine can't be original. The older BP 2-4-0 13 is also in the main hall but displayed around the side with a period train and is easy to miss. The SS 4-4-0 stands above head height so it's easy to look at it from below. The BMAG 4-4-0 stands in the main station platform with two carriages from the Dutch royal train.

The Javan CC50 and the NS 4-8-4T were a disappointment. They're both displayed, if that's the right word, in a sort of fairground tunnel of love/rollercoaster and you can only see them from the roller coaster train. In the case of the CC50 that means briefly - very briefly for rather less than 2 seconds as the roller coaster screeches past without stopping until the (dim) lights go off again. On my second trip around, once I had got prepared, I managed a grab shot during the one second of light with my ISO setting up to max - even with my 10mm lens it only got about two thirds of the loco in and that was blurred. The 4-8-4T is only visible briefly at wheel level in a sort of ghostly blue light. The ride was good fun but it really seems a shame that two of their star exhibits are effectively no longer on view. 

Notwithstanding this we enjoyed the museum. The standard of restoration is superb and it's well worth a visit. We had a really good lunch in the restaurant in the old station building, a room full of period character and much more atmospheric than the eatery in the new hall. There's a shuttle service from Utrecht Centraal station once an hour, leaving at 46 minutes past the hour or it's about a 20 minute walk through the old city centre. 

No's 89, 3737, 326 and 5085 seen from above, with the tender of no. 107 to the left.

No's 3737, 326 and 5085.

 No. 3737

The Merryweather steam tram loco.

No. 107

4-4-0 no. 2104 at the old station platform.

De Arend.

The following is an official photograph of SS 13 mentioned above provided by Ms. Cisca Simons:

Robert Hall's visit was on 25th July 2011 – a Monday. The museum is closed on Mondays except during school holidays.

The museum contains the same eleven steam locos, as listed in JW’s report. As per JW’s report, no. 107 stands above head height. The only loco which I had any problem with finding, was the replica “De Arend”. It, plus two replica period coaches, nowadays “hidden away” as part of a separate feature called “The Great Discovery”, or Dutch equivalent – a series of tableaux giving a kind of potted history of the Industrial Revolution and the advent of railways. Comes with an audio-tape, with the narration supposedly by the Englishman John Middlemiss, the first engine-driver in the Netherlands (tape is also in an English version, with the chap speaking in a fine North of England accent).

The feature which includes the Indonesian 2-6-6-0, and NS 4-8-4T no. 6317, which JW finds rather lamentable: it would appear to me that either this feature has been altered and expanded since JW’s visit, or that JW’s and my perceptions of the same set-up, were markedly different. The “ghost train” ride (the fairground likeness which I would choose) gave, in my estimation, rather longer and better viewing of the two locos, than I had been expecting from JW’s description. Attempts made, to add a little drama and “action”; simulated steam-raising is happening with 6317, and loco maintenance staff are shown working on the 2-6-6-0. The “ghost train journey”, which in my perception takes at least three minutes, is ingeniously contrived, and features various tableaux and “happenings” additionally to the two steam locos. Whilst I would much rather have had the two locos just simply displayed in the open, like all the others and as accessible and visible as them; I felt less “robbed” by the way in which they are actually shown, than I was expecting to. (JW lists the 2-6-6-0 as PJKA no. CC5022; it is marked and identified in the museum now, as Staats Spoorwegen [Dutch East Indies] no. 1622.)

As well as the steam locos, the museum contains plenty of intriguing rolling stock, and items of diesel and electric power in various forms. I have little interest in modern traction, and took no notes about the various “diesel and electric” – details of such would not be appropriate for this site, anyway. Museum also contains much interesting miscellaneous material: railway notices and station nameboards; rail maps from very many decades ago, of the Netherlands and further afield; numerous toy and model locos and rolling stock. And, as mentioned by JW, assorted interesting cameos / special-feature “nooks and corners”.

Impression quite strongly got, that the museum is basically aimed at children / families rather than hard-core railway enthusiasts – some consequent feeling on the part of the latter, of “dumbing-down” (including great disappointment with the museum shop’s book content). However, it’s not for people like us to tell those who run the museum, how they ought to run it.

The restaurant in the old station building, mentioned by JW, indeed looked inviting – but proved not to be serving lunch ! The mentioned “eatery in the new hall” was found to have a limited and unenticing selection of food: what it sold, sustained life, but that’s about all that can be said for it. It occurs to me to wonder whether part of the “deal” with the Monday opening in school holidays only, might perhaps be something of an “austerity regime” on open Mondays.

One steam exhibit with no apparent railway connection is a Marshall portable engine (71123/1986). The (UK) Traction Engine Register records that came to the Netherlands in 1986. This is Phil Barnes 2018 picture:

Rob Dickinson