First up, before I forget again, yesterday’s mileage was 343, but it honestly seemed a lot less, such is the ease of riding Baby Harls!
Today dawned a tad damp in Mulhouse, but that didn’t matter at all, because most of the day has been spent inside the wonderful Cité du Train, the French National Railway Museum. I spent the greater part of my working life on the railways, just under thirty years to be exact, and still class myself as a Railwayman. Additionally, I’ve long held a great admiration for French trains and the work of the famous engineers such as De Glehn and Chapelon, so the chance to get up close to some of their machines was too good to miss! Well, ok to be honest, I’ve been planning to visit this place for years and it didn’t disappoint at all.
Top marks to the place for keeping up with modern technology as well, you can download an App for your phone or tablet that gives a much greater insight to the exhibits as you walk around the large collection. On top of that, your admission also gives you a portable audio guide in the language of your choice, no Welsh though 😦 !
The collection is split between two large buildings, one being the old Mulhouse-Nord Engine Depot and between the two is a rather superb restaurant; this is France after all! It claims to be the biggest railway museum in the world, but as the British National Railway Museum at York is five times the size and has nearly four times as many visitors each year, I leave the maths to others! Anyway, I’m not being disparaging, it really is a super place and well worth a visit.
The first hall that a visitor passes into is the old depot, at first it takes a bit of getting used to, the lighting is all subdued and very atmospheric; exhibits are brilliantly highlighted as appropriate. My favourite by a mile was this fantastic 241 “Mountain” Class loco from the Est Company, dating from 1925. I love the blue lighting that gives a night-time feel to the scene.
Now I realise that this could all get a bit photo heavy and posting from a tablet that’s going to cause me a few problems, so here’s the deal; I’ll whack some stuff on now and when I get home I’ll post more, probably in a few goes, ok? Good! Otherwise it’s gonna end up a bit like Locomotive Porn!!!
Also in the atmospheric Hall One is a rather nice collection of classic passenger carriages that go back to almost the beginning of French railways. Most recognisable would be this wonderful CIWL Restaurant Car of the type used on the famous Orient Express.
Hey look where it was built! In the Second Hall, it’s all a lot brighter if a tad less atmospheric. There are some real gems here.
This Buddicom of 1844 is reputed to,be the oldest, original, loco in Continental Europe, built in Rouen by an English engineer, behind it is one of Robert Stephenson’s exports that was built in Newcastle around 1850.
Every thirty minutes Hudson 232.U.1 “Departs” Paris for Lyon in a cloud of steam, actually the engine has been jacked up and the wheels are spun by electric motor, but it still looks great and with some nice sound effects really captures the moment!
More modern trains feature as well. There’s a great display of Trans Europe Express equipment, stuff that I remember travelling on like this CC Electric, Number 6575.
The exhibits continue outside as well, I end this post with one of the original Train a Grande Vitesse, TGV, power cars.
I remember travelling on these as well, I’ll be in a museum next at this rate!
“Meet Iggy Pop and David Bowie, Trans Europe Express.”