The Museum is an important attraction at the Talyllyn Railway’s Tywyn Wharf station, but like other attractions was forced to close its doors when the Covid19 pandemic struck. It has now started a phased re-opening, allowing visitors to view the larger exhibits.

Although the Welsh Government allowed museums to re-open as from 27th July, most found the process difficult and complex, with the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum being no exception. In addition to meeting the enhanced hygiene and safety requirements, it faced two particular challenges; the volunteer attendants were mostly in “at-risk” categories and so could not staff the Museum, and the ventilation needed improving.

Emergency grants totalling £19,700 from the Welsh Government and the
Lottery Heritage Fund has allowed the Museum to make the changes needed for safe public access, and crucially to take on two paid employees, Luke Ryan and Frank Nolan, for the next four months, allowing a phased re-opening.

  • Phase 1 on 5th September saw public access to the entrance area with a large screen monitor to illustrate the collection inside (and the large door open when weather conditions allow).
  • Phase 2 followed very quickly, on 7th September, allowing visitors who had booked on-line to visit the Museum’s ground floor, where most of the larger exhibits are displayed.
  • Under Phase 3, to be implemented as soon as possible, visitors will also be able to enjoy the first-floor displays, including many of the smaller exhibits and the re-created Awdry Study, where Thomas the Tank Engine’s creator wrote his much-loved books. A “museum outside” is also being set up, with new interpretation boards for the outdoor exhibits (mainly historic wagons).

Visitors should book their visit through the Museum website, which will show the current opening arrangements, and also has details of the appeal for donations towards the ongoing cost of purchasing PPE (personal protective equipment), cleaning materials, and hand sanitiser, estimated at around £500 a month. For those who cannot get to Tywyn, the Museum’s entire collection is viewable online via the website.

Keith Theobald, Narrow Gauge Railway Museum Trust Chairman, said “We are delighted that we are now able to welcome visitors again to enjoy our Museum, which makes a visit to the Talyllyn Railway even more special. We are very grateful to the Welsh Government and the Lottery Heritage Fund whose financial help has made this possible.”

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