New museum exhibition showcases Melton’s golden age of steam trains

Steam train enthusiasts will be in their element if they visit Melton Carnegie Museum to view a special exhibition on the history of the railway in the town.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 10:30 am
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 11:47 am
The mystery painting of steam train travel in Melton which forms part of the new Full Steam Ahead railway exhibition at Melton Carnegie Museum EMN-210722-102519001
The mystery painting of steam train travel in Melton which forms part of the new Full Steam Ahead railway exhibition at Melton Carnegie Museum EMN-210722-102519001

The Full Steam Ahead display has, as its centrepiece, a stunning oil painting of a view of Melton Mowbray with the newly-completed railway in the foreground.

It shows Melton’s station and goods yard, possibly in the summer of 1848, when passenger services started across the whole line from Leicester to Melton, Oakham, Stamford and Peterborough.

The actual title, date and artist of the painting are unknown, but it shows an unusual and well-painted view of the town at a time of great change and may have been painted by renowned local artist John Ferneley, say museum staff.

Part of the new Full Steam Ahead railway exhibition at Melton Carnegie Museum EMN-210722-102451001

The work was acquired by the county council’s museum collections service three years ago following an approach by the National Railway Museum, which had been offered the painting, but viewed that it would be more relevant to Leicestershire’s story of steam.

The previous owner said the painting had been in their family’s home for at least 70 years, and possibly longer.

Full Steam Ahead also gives visitors the opportunity to see the newly-restored painting next to Ferneley’s 1832 painting of ‘The Opening of the Leicester and Swannington Railway’.

The exhibition also features other railway-related objects from the collections.

Part of the new Full Steam Ahead railway exhibition at Melton Carnegie Museum EMN-210722-102502001

Councillor Christine Radford, cabinet member for heritage, leisure and arts, said: “The exhibition is a must for visitors, including railways buffs, art lovers and those interested in local history.

“It offers a fascinating glimpse into a hugely important period in Melton’s history – as well as giving people the chance to make up their own minds as to whether John Ferneley was the artist behind the work.”

Entry to Melton Carnegie Museum and the Full Steam Ahead exhibition is free.

Go to www.meltonmuseum.org for more information and opening times for the museum.