10:29am Friday 7th June 2013
By Mike Laycock & Katrina Turrill
SUPPORT is steaming in for The Press’ Save the NRM campaign – from pop mogul Pete Waterman and leading politicians to ordinary families enjoying a day at the world’s biggest railway museum.
People from across the political spectrum are united in agreeing the museum must not, under any circumstances, close.
Conservative York Outer MP Julian Sturdy and Labour’s York Central MP Hugh Bayley both threw their support behind the campaign as they raised the issue at Westminster.
Mr Sturdy, calling in the Commons for a formal debate, said he went to the NRM as a boy and had taken his own children there. He knew only too well its importance to Britain’s culture and heritage and it was an important part of York’s DNA.
Mr Bayley asked Culture Secretary Maria Miller for an undertaking that the Government would provide enough public funding to ensure the NRM, and other museums in the the Science Museum Group, can remain open.
Party leaders at City of York Council also wrote to the Minister to say the NRM was a critical part of York’s tourism offer, which brought seven million visitors a year to the city and generated £443 million for this city’s economy and also contributed to the city’s cultural life.
“As the finest rail museum in the country, and most probably the world, it would be a tragedy for it even to be under consideration for closure,” they said. “As a great element of a great city, a threat to the NRM is a threat to the city’s economic, cultural and tourism wellbeing.”
Pete Waterman, the former Pop Idol judge who is a keen railway enthusiast, said: “I would fight tooth and nail to keep the NRM but there needs to be some very tough decisions about how public money is spent.”
York rail buff John Rathmell, who has a small railway museum in his own garden, said: “I am totally against the closure. It will have such a great impact on tourism and job losses. I don’t think people realise how much the NRM actually brings in money wise.”
Author Andrew Martin, who was educated in York and has written a number of railway historical thrillers, said: “I can’t believe it’s a possibility. If it is to close it would be disgusting, another blow for the North of England.
“It is by far my favourite railway museum. I grew up in York, and now live in London, but half the reason I still go to York is to go there. The closure will have a terrible effect on York.”
Chris Mackins, who has been to the NRM several times since he moved to York 18 months ago, said he was happy to be involved in a campaign. “I’d also be happy to chain myself to the doors to keep the NRM open,” he said. “But I don’t just want to see the NRM saved – I don’t want to see the north stripped of its cultural assets because its owner is based in London.”
Gillian Cruddas, chief executive of Visit York, said: “We back The Press’s campaign to ensure the National Railway Museum has a long and successful future in York, contributing significantly to the city and the country’s economic and cultural wellbeing.
"As the largest railway museum in the world, generating around 700,000 visits annually, the NRM is home to a world class collection of national and international importance and it’s crucial we work together in the city and offer our full support.”
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