Ambulance Train. Credit NRM.

The National Railway Museum in York is set to open a new permanent exhibition, which will explore the little-known experiences of the patients and staff who travelled aboard the hospitals-on-wheels during World War One.

Ambulance Trains will open to the public on 7th July, marking the centenary of the busiest day of ambulance train traffic, which occurred during the Battle of the Somme.

The stories and memories of the people who travelled on the British ambulance trains, from the wounded soldiers who were being transported to hospital, to the medical staff who worked tirelessly in the cramped and stressful conditions, will be on display in the form of photographs, technical drawings, letters and diaries.

Digital projection, sound and images, as well as recreated interior fittings, will recreate the atmosphere of the confined trains during World War One.

Ambulance Trains will also examine the railway workers who built the carefully designed trains to suit their purpose, as well as the wider public who saw the reality of the overseas war as the trains pulled into the stations.

The centrepiece of the new exhibition, which will take place in the museum’s Great Hall, will be a carriage once owned by the Ministry of Defence. The carriage, which was built in 1907 for the London & South Western Railway, is an example of the type of carriage that would have been converted for use as an ambulance train.

It has been transformed so visitors will be able to step on board and move through the spaces, including a ward, a pharmacy and a nurses’ mess room.

Ambulance Trains will also feature a series of free talks by curators, experts and descendants of ambulance train staff.

For more information about the exhibition visit

Photo credit: NRM.