Rail enthusiasts' first-class essays are just the ticket

Ripon Grammar School students have won praise for their wide range of first-class railway-themed essays in a competition created in memory of former deputy headmaster Michael Wallace

PUPILS from Ripon Grammar School visited the National Railway Museum in York to receive their prizes in an essay competition organised by the Friends of the National Railway Museum.

Judges said they were ‘truly impressed by the standard of the essays’ and in particular from some of the younger students entering their first academic essay competition.

The competition, now in its third year, was set up in memory of Michael Wallace MBE, the Friends’ honorary secretary and a former deputy headmaster at Ripon Grammar School who died in 2018.

After teaching at the school for 34 years, Michael wanted to leave a legacy to help young people and set aside £2,500 to be shared over five years with the winners of a railway-themed writing competition.

This year’s senior category winner (years 11-13) was Reuben Gilhooley, 17, from Boroughbridge (pictured far right, above). His essay, Fast Track Diplomacy, explored how high-speed rail could shape the landscape of geopolitics.

Natasha Pointon, 13, from outside Thirsk (pictured far left), received first prize in the junior category (years 7-10). Her essay explored the history of the London Underground.

Runners up were Sam Cann and Isabel Arrowsmith in the senior category while Amelia Thomas and Yanxi Wang were runners up in the junior section.

Both winners received £150 with second and third place in each category receiving a prize of £50. As well as attending a prize ceremony announcing the winners, each visitor received lunch, a certificate, a book about Flying Scotsman and a personal tour of the museum.

All essayists chose their own titles and entries covered topics as varied as the role of the railways in the milk industry, to comparisons with air and road travel.

Head of sixth form at Ripon Grammar School, Terry Fell, said: “We were delighted by the range and quality of the essays these young writers produced.”

“I’m sure everyone will have enjoyed the visit to the museum and I would like to thank the Friends for setting up this competition.”

First set up in 1977, The Friends of the National Railway Museum is a registered charity, which supports railway heritage and the work of the museum. Significant projects to benefit from the Friends’ support include the purchase and restoration of the world’s most famous locomotive, no. 60103 Flying Scotsman. For more information about the Friends of the National Railway Museum, visit: www.nrmfriends.org.uk.

About the National Railway Museum

The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and prior to Covid-19, attracted more than 750,000 visitors per year

The collection includes over 260 locomotives and rolling stock, 600 coins and medals, equipment, documents, records, artwork and photographs

The National Railway Museum is part of the Science Museum Group of national museums which includes Locomotion in Shildon, the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester and the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford

The National Railway Museum in York returns to seven day a week opening over the summer holidays from Monday 26 July. To book free tickets, visit: www.railwaymuseum.org.uk/visit.

The Friends of the National Railway Museum is a registered charity, set up to support the work of the museum.