The International Steam Pages

The Norwegian Railway Museum, Hamar

James Waite reports: See also his later 'Behind the Scenes' report.

Hamar lies on the shore of Lake Mjøsa about 100 miles north of Oslo. In steam days it was the home of one of Norway’s loco manufacturers. The Norwegian Railway Museum (Jernbanemuseet) was set up there in 1896 and claims to be one of the world’s first railway museum. 

The museum is located on the western edge of the city about 2 miles west of Hamar station. It was reopened in 2003 after being given a makeover. It now consists of a new, purpose-built hall on the north side of the access road and two older halls, a working 750mm gauge railway, some standard gauge track and a children’s miniature railway in a park on the lake shore south of the road. The new hall contains an extensive hands-on exhibition illustrating the history of railways in general and Norwegian railways in particular. The only rolling stock on view here are NSB 7a class 0-4-0ST no. 25, Manning Wardle 576/1875 which was previously on show at Oslo Central station, NSB 2a class 2-4-0 no. 16, Robert Stephenson 1406/1861 and a 1931 EMU teak bodied set. The bookshop and restaurant are here. 

Over the road there’s a rather characterless hall close to the park gate which contains four more standard gauge steam locos and one elderly electric machine. Further on there’s an older wooden building where the 3ft 6ins gauge exhibits are kept along with more standard gauge stock. To British eyes the star exhibit here in undoubtedly the Beyer Peacock 2-4-0T “Alf”. It’s very similar to the Isle of Man Railway locos. It’s been at the museum since 1923. It looks particularly authentic in its faded green paint scheme - again similar to the colour used for the IOM locos until recently. I imagine it may date from its working days. Tacked on to one end of the building is a glass-walled extension which houses 2-8-4 no. 470, one of the “Dovregubben” class, Norway’s largest locos, and a most impressive machine. Unfortunately the building in which it lives is barely larger then the engine and it’s hard to get a true impression of its appearance in the constricted space available. 

Outside the 750mm gauge railway runs for just under 1km and provides transport between the three halls. The working loco is ex-Urskog – Hølandsbanen 0-6-0T no. 2 “Urskog”, a most attractive machine which hauls three period carriages. The loco is oil fired with an electric burner. The train runs once an hour. 

There are three attractively restored station buildings along the running line and several other buildings (another building is planned to be moved here in 2009). The track layout makes provision for a standard gauge train to run as well but this isn’t currently in use. There’s another standard gauge line which runs out of the museum and along the road towards the main line. Presumably it provides a connection but I didn’t investigate this. 

The museum also keeps 2-4-0 no. 17 “Caroline”, another Robert Stephenson machine from 1861, in working order and advertises occasional excursions between Hamar and Elverum, about 25 miles to the east. The loco wasn’t at the museum when I was there. Possibly it lives in the roundhouse near Hamar station. (The picture below is courtesy of museum head, Roar Stenersen, and dates from 2003. RD) 

There’s an hourly train service between Lillehammer, at the northern end of the lake, and Skien, on the coast about 130 miles south of Oslo. The line passes through Hamar, Gardermoen (Oslo’s main airport), Oslo Central and Torp, near Sandefjord which reopened after many years disuse in January 2008 and serves Torp airport. This is useful for a day visit as Ryanair flies into Torp from several UK cities and quite often offers virtually free flights there. There’s a free shuttle bus between Torp airport and the station. It’s a lengthy train ride from Torp to Hamar, more than three hours, but the line is highly scenic run for much of the distance, first through the rolling countryside south of Oslo with occasional stretches on a sea wall alongside Oslofjord and, north of Gardermoen, along the shore of Lake Mjøsa. There’s another shuttle bus between Hamar station and the museum. 

Other attractions in the area include the SS Skibladner, a paddlesteamer built in 1856 (but rebuilt later) which is based in Hamar and is used for excursions on the lake in the summer. The operators website is at If you travel via Torp airport you may also be interested in another steamship, the SS Kysten I built in 1909, which operates on Oslofjord out of Tønsberg, a short distance north of Torp.

If you plan a trip to Hamar check the museum’s opening hours as they’re quite restrictive. In 2008 it’s only open between 11.00am and 3.00pm on weekdays for most of the year though between 25th June and 17th August the hours are 10.30am to 5.00pm. The railway runs daily from late May until 17th August with a break on 30th June and 1st July and at weekends for the rest of August.

The museum’s website is at but it’s in Norwegian only. There are a number of English-language sites which cover it but on some of them the opening dates and hours are out of date.

Steam locos

Standard gauge
NSB 32a class 2-6-2T no. 288, Hamar 1915 
NSB 25a class 0-6-0T no. 227, Hamar 

NSB 31b class 2-8-2 no. 452 1926 

NSB 27a class 4-6-0 no. 234, Thunes 1912 
NSB 7a class 0-4-0ST no. 25, Manning Wardle 576/1875 

NSB 2a class 2-4-0 no. 16, Robert Stephenson 1406/1861

NSB 49c class 2-8-4 no. 470, Krupp 1940

Norsk Hydro, 0-4-0 fireless “Paal”, Hohenzollern 1910. Used at Rjukan fertilizer factory

3ft 6in gauge
NSB III class 2-4-0T no. 21 “Alf” Beyer Peacock 992/1870

NSB XIII class 4-4-0 no. 7 Thunes 1901

Sulitjelmabanen 0-4-0T “Loke”, Hanomag 2411/1892

750mm gauge
NSB XXVII class (ex-Urskog – Hølandsbanen) 0-6-0T no. 2 “Urskog” Hartmann 2102/1895

This delightful 3ft 6ins gauge railcar was built in 1930 and ran until 1958.

Rob Dickinson