Stephenson Railway | FREE Train Museum & Cheap Heritage Train Rides

This post is based on a visit in April 2022. Please check the Stephenson Railway website and social media for the most up-to-date info, especially regarding opening times, booking info and special events. 

Stephenson Railway is a small, free to visit train museum in North Shields. There is a free car park onsite and a bus stop nearby. The museum is not open all of the time and trains only run on selected dates so do check before heading out. 

Stephenson Railway | FREE Train Museum & Cheap Heritage Train Rides

The museum is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs and the train platform is accessible too however train carriage doors are restricted to 55cm and cannot accommodate wheelchairs. Wheelchair users must be able to self transfer from a platform to a carriage if they wish to ride. Find out more about access here. 


You can ride Stephenson Railway FOR FREE on Sunday 10 September. Book your free tickets here. 

Then please read the rest of this post which will give you an idea of what to expect. 

Address: Stephenson Railway. Middle Engine Way, North Shields. NE29 8DX. 

The museum is close to Silverlink, Rising Sun Country Park and Silverlink Biodiversity Park.

There are a couple of picnic tables and benches in the museum grounds, we brought a picnic with us to enjoy before our train ride. There is a cafe but it is only open on selected dates (it was closed on the day of our visit) and toilets are available in the museum entrance. 

We pre-booked our train ride ahead of time which I'd recommend doing as they regularly sell out. Sometimes there may be options to buy a ticket from the museum on the day too. Train fares are an absolute bargain. I booked a family ticket for 4 people which was just £16. 

Children aged 4 and under, dogs and carers travel free. There is also the option to buy a season ticket which is very reasonable and I would say with it if your kids love train rides. 


On arrival, we were asked our name and shown to our compartment. At the moment, each group is allocated their own private compartment and you don't share with anyone which feels like a nice treat. 

We watched as the engine connected with the carriages before climbing aboard. 

The walk to the platform is short but it feels like you have stepped into an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine with train tracks, trains and carriages parked up in the yard. 

The compartments are lovely and comfortable and have that old-timey feel to them. Our sash window was open and it felt like we had stepped back in time. Everything was in good condition and we had plenty of space in our carriage which seats up to six people. There are posters in the carriage which share a bit of the railway's history. 

The journey is 4 miles long and takes around 35 minutes from your boarding time. It travels towards the Tyne and then back again so you end up where you started. 

The route is not a scenic one (just so you are warned) and it follows the traditional route coal trains would have taken. You are usually pulled along by a vintage diesel engine and the carriages date back to the 1950s. 

You will pass Tesco, under a few tunnels and past the industrial estate / houses. 

Halfway through the experience, the train will stop and the guards will open your carriage door and ask if you'd like to watch the engine un-couple and then link up to the other side of the carriages ready for the return journey. This is a great photo op and the kids seemed to love watching. It's worth alighting just to stretch your legs too. 

After 5 minutes or so, it's time to climb back onboard for the return journey back to the museum. 

The volunteers / staff are all dressed smartly in traditional uniform and super friendly / helpful. Although fairly short and not too scenic, I loved our little trip and think it was such a bargain for the price we'd paid. I'd definitely recommend. 

We visited on a day the museum was open. It's free to visit and worth popping into. As you enter the building you will see the cafe (only open on selected dates) and visitor toilets. The tearoom is entirely run by volunteers and all profits go back into the museum. 

Pass through this section to get to the main museum. There is an admissions desk and small gift shop should you need anything but it is mostly self led. 

The museum is only small and not on the same scale as Locomotion Shildon for example. Like I say, still worth a look. Little ones will enjoy seeing all of the different types of trains and older ones may be interested to read the information boards. 

Highlights include: 

  • Early locomotive 'Puffing Billy' which was built in Newcastle in 1816
  • Steam and diesel locomotives used in Newcastle dating back to the 1800s 
  • An electric powered parcels van from 1904 
  • An electric locomotive 
  • A range of passenger carriages 
  • Check out the full stock list here

You can't climb into the carriages / engines. 

Stephenson Railway FAQs 

Are there disabled toilets and baby change? 

Yes, in the museum entrance 

Where can I park? 

There is a large on-site free car park with disabled and parent and child spaces available 

Can I bring a picnic? 

Yes, there are picnic tables in the grounds 

Can I bring a dog? 

Pet dogs are only permitted in the grounds, they are not permitted in the museum and are no longer permitted on train rides. If you are looking for a dog-friendly train ride I recommend Aln Valley Railway, Tanfield Railway or Heatherslaw Light Railway as an alternative. 

How long should I spend here? 

Train rides last around 35 minutes. We were there for around 90 minutes including a pre-train ride picnic and a quick look around the museum.

Where can I visit nearby? 

Silverlink, Royal Quays, Rising Sun Country Park 

Where else can I visit like this? 

Locomotion Shildon is fantastic. 

Where can I book a train ride? 

You can book online here. 

There are tables with free Thomas print outs to colour too which is a nice complimentary activity for little ones to enjoy. 

Four Reasons to Visit Stephenson Railway 

  1. It's a FREE place to visit and mostly indoors so ideal if the weather is changeable 
  2. Learn about Newcastle's heritage 
  3. Probably the cheapest heritage train ride in the North East 
  4. Free parking and accessible by public transport 

As well as regular heritage train rides, Stepenson Railway run a programme of special events, especially during school holidays. You can check out what's coming up here. 


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