National Railway Museum restaurant redesign
Wednesday 08 Jan 2014


SHH has completely redesigned the National Railway Museum’s hospitality offer, following a commission by long-term client Levy Restaurants, which provides catering services at the museum. The radical revamp involved the rebadging and redesign of the popular York attraction’s two main restaurants, as well as creating a third new offer in an external, courtyard space. The re-designed restaurants are The Dining Car, a 450 sq. m restaurant situated in the Grade II-listed Station Hall and The Mallard Café Deli Bakery a 310 sq. m space located in the more modern section of the museum, the Great Hall. The brand new external area is The Container Café, which is made up of four industrial transportation containers, together with loose courtyard seating and three further adapted, open-sided containers offering semi-covered seating.

All three dining spaces feature exciting, playful and highly original designs, inspired by the glorious heritage of rail travel. The counters in The Dining Car restaurant are modelled on the feel of an old timber-clad ticket office, with a bespoke seating area inspired by vintage railway carriages. These come complete with luggage racks dressed with parcels in brown paper and vintage suitcases from the NRM archive and carriage lights, as well as a series of framed ‘golden age’ room sets on casters, evoking the spacious feel of the lounges on trains like the Orient Express. Seating areas are also enlivened with additional exhibit features, such as old ticket machines, a model train set inside a glass case in the centre of the space and old station signs and plaques on the enclosing red timber fence walls. Two full-size street lanterns also dress the space, with power taken from the ceiling above. 

The Mallard Café Deli Bakery, meanwhile, has an industrial feel, with steel tubing, stainless steel shelves and metal studs, referencing the great engineering design behind Mallard and its sister A4 class locomotives, whilst the seven external containers refer to the railway’s great role in industrial transportation. The third and final dining area is the new Container Café. Here the servery is made up of four individual containers, which were fitted out off-site and then craned into position. All have been adapted to allow access through and three further containers have been painted and opened up, with one also cut in half, to provide semi-covered seating areas, in addition to the loose furniture in the courtyard.