The public are being invited to have their say on plans for a new £5.9m collection building at Locomotion in Shildon at a free exhibition being displayed this month.
The exhibition will be on show at Locomotion between January 19-23 before the plans are submitted for planning approval later in the year.
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On January 19, there will also be a face-to-face open session at the museum with members of the project team on hand to answer questions and to explain the plans. A further drop-in session will be held at Shildon Library on January 24.
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The 2000m2 collection building is expected to open in 2023 ahead of celebrations to mark the bicentenary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 2025.
The building is the centrepiece of a programme of improvements taking place at Locomotion as part of the National Railway Museum’s ‘Vision 2025’ masterplan. These include repairs to the site’s historic buildings, the display of the original Locomotion No.1 and the relocation of the historically-significant Gaunless Bridge.
The new building will house up to 45 rail vehicles, in addition to the 87 already on display in the existing collection building, to create one of the world’s largest collections of rail vehicles.
Dr Sarah Price, Head of Locomotion, said: “I am excited to share our latest plans for Locomotion’s newest collection building which will give our visitors a better experience and create a safe and sustainable environment for our collection.”
“This project will help us move towards our goal of achieving net zero carbon across the site and the new building will enable us to display an additional 45 vehicles from the national collection. This will create a lasting legacy for the area as we celebrate the bicentenary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 2025.”
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We are approaching a significant year in our county’s history with the upcoming bicentenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Locomotion has some truly exciting plans in place to celebrate this key milestone, including the new collection building. This will not only revitalise the site and attract more visitors but also showcase the dynamic culture and rich industrial heritage of County Durham, which is a key reason why the county is bidding for UK City of Culture 2025. I hope visitors will get involved and give their views on this exciting new proposal.”
The development at Locomotion will also provide new opportunities to tell the story of Shildon as the world’s first railway town. This will include examples of the exceptional importance of coal to the development of the area and the town’s post-war railway history, with several vehicles built in the Shildon Works on display.
Locomotion opened in 2004 and is part of the Science Museum Group. Prior to the pandemic, the museum received up to 200,000 visitors a year. In December, the museum was awarded the ‘Special Recognition Award’ at the 2021 County Durham Together Awards for supporting the local community during the pandemic.
The museum also received a share of £3.5m regional ‘Levelling Up’ funding following a successful bid by Durham County Council. This will see upgrades to the visitor car park, assistance with landscaping and further repairs to the historic coal drops.
Designed by AOC Architects, the new building at Locomotion was originally due to open in 2022 but was delayed as a result of the pandemic.
The exhibition will also be displayed at Shildon Library on Monday 24 January (11am – 3pm) and will be available to view online at www.locomotion.org.uk/new-building-locomotion