Rushden Transport Museum, situated in the rooms of the old Victorian (1893) Rushden Station, is a gem in the cultural heritage of East Northamptonshire. Their collection highlights the growth of Rushden within the development of road and rail transport and its impact on the local population. Come and ‘meet’ the drayman, the fireman, the petrol pump attendant, poor injured ‘Annie’ and a little boy saying good bye to his Pa. Imagine working in the Ticket Office (non – running days only) or the parcels office or maybe sitting in the Station Masters chair – when he is not there of course! A place of quiet reflection and nostalgia for their older visitors as well as an eye opener for younger guests to the differences before modern technology took over.
Rushden Transport Museum is aptly housed in the old Rushden Station. The Victorian station was built in 1893 by Midland Railways as the only stop on the Wellingborough to Higham Ferrers branch line authorised in 1890, in response to pressure by local merchants and manufacturers. If you have an interest in railway lamps and tools, then they have plenty for you to view on your visit. Their collection is not all about rail, as they are also proud to display a variety of road artefacts, ephemera and memorabilia from the local area that help demonstrate the history of transport within the context of Rushden and its near neighbours. Their stars include: A 1950’s ABJ auto cycle lovingly restored by local transport enthusiast, on temporary loan from his family; An Ashford Litter from the Rushden Ambulance Corps that they were pleased to give a home to; Three bicycles from the Lightstrung Cycle Co, a Rushden firm.
The heritage railway is operated by The Rushden, Higham and Wellingborough Railway (RHWR) and presently has ½ mile of track. It uses both steam and diesel locomotives operating passenger trains at events throughout the year. The railway is also available for private hire. The railway was built by The Midland Railway in 1894 and became the only branch line in Northamptonshire. The line ran from Wellingborough through Rushden to Higham Ferrers. Such was the need to carry products for the boot and shoe trade in Rushden a large goods facility was provided with regular freight traffic running between the passenger trains.
Regular passenger trains ceased in June 1959 although the line continued to see Saturday specials running up to around 1965. The last known passenger train to transverse the line was on the 18th May 1968 formed of a diesel multiple unit on an enthusiasts special. Freight traffic continued until November 1969 when the line finally closed. The last train being formed of a class 25 diesel which collected twelve iron ore tippler wagon from Higham Station. Soon after closure the track was lifted with Rushden goods shed and yard becoming a highways depot while the station building was rented out to various businesses. In 1984 Rushden Historical Transport Society obtained a lease on Rushden Station building which led to its eventual purchase in 1996. After many years of hard work by members, the site was developed and restored and on the 13th June 2009 RHWR ran its first passenger train from Rushden Station, exactly 50 years to the day the last regular passenger service ceased. In 2011 the line towards Higham Ferrers was extended by ¼ mile, whilst 2015 saw the start of Phase 3 which will add a further ¼ mile of track linking Rushden and Higham for the first time in 55 years. A fourth and final stage will eventually see the railway establish a halt in Higham Ferrers extending the line to total length of approximately a mile. For Running Days please click here.
Regular themed weekend events and heritage train rides are held throughout the year. The museum collects and preserves items, which are held in trust for the future, that relate to the rail and road transport of Rushden and its development within the surrounding area. The collections are made accessible to the public by permanent displays and a variety of changing displays on specific local themes. The museum is accessible for wheelchair users up a sloped, tarmacked but uneven pathway, and flat level access to the entrance door. There is also Access via twelve steps, uneven in places with a handrail to one side. Due to the historic nature of the vehicles not all vehicles are accessible. There is a ladies toilet, suitable for disabled visitors, and a gents toilet at the end of the platform past the bar. There is an additional ladies toilet in the bar. The Buffet car is available on running days, serving hot and cold drinks light snacks and homemade cakes. There is no disabled access because of the step up from the platform, but there are picnic benches outside. The High St has several cafés within walking distance and Asda café is nearby for non-running days. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Rushden Transport Museum, Rushden Station, Station Approach, Rushden, Northamptonshire NN10 0AW
Transport: Wellingborough (National Rail) then bus (X46, X47). Bus Routes : Stagecoach X46/X47 to Asda store 100 yards
Opening Times : Fridays, 14:00 to 16:00; April to October, Saturday 14:00 to 16:00; Sunday and Running Days (see above), 11:00 to 16:00
Tickets : Free
Tel: 01933 350111