Construction has started on a new collection building at Locomotion in Shildon that will significantly expand the visitor attraction and create one of the world’s largest collections of historic railway vehicles.
Due to open in November 2023, the 2000m2 ‘New Hall’ will house an additional 46 vehicles from the national collection including carriages, wagons and locomotives and will celebrate the North East’s role in the development of the railways.
Locomotion is a partnership between the Science Museum Group and Durham County Council who are lead funders of the New Hall development. The new building will be a key hub in plans to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 2025.
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Dr Sarah Price, Head of Locomotion, said: “After a lot of thought and effort spent at the planning and design stages, I’m delighted to mark the start of building work on our New Hall. We’re investing in the museum to create a better experience for our visitors and to tell the exciting and inspirational role played by Shildon and the North-East in the global railway story. I look forward to welcoming people through our doors later this year.”
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, the council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We’re really excited to see work getting underway on the New Hall development and at the prospect of having one of the world’s largest collections of historic railway vehicles right here in County Durham.
“We were really pleased to be able to put some of the Levelling Up funding we received towards Locomotion and this new attraction will undoubtedly draw more visitors to both the museum and the wider county, in turn boosting our economy. We’re also very much looking forward to New Hall and the whole Locomotion site playing a key role in the celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway’s bicentenary in 2025.”
Building work is scheduled to be finished in October 2023. A series of complex rail moves will then take place to begin displaying the historic rail vehicles. These will be displayed on three pairs of tracks allowing visitors to easily see the collection and learn about their significance.
The exact vehicle layout has not been announced but will include stars from the museum’s existing collection, as well as new arrivals from the National Railway Museum in York and other locations. The vehicles and objects chosen will highlight the importance of coal in the development of the railways along with related stories of freight transportation and the industrial railway and many of the vehicles on display will have strong connections to the North East.
New Hall will be built on the brownfield ‘Ashfield’s’ site, close to the museum and Locomotion’s existing collection building, Main Hall, will remain open to the public as usual during construction.
The design of New Hall is inspired by historic engine sheds and will feature simple, sustainable and hard-wearing materials with high levels of insulation to reduce demand for heating and cooling. New gardens, specially designed to encourage the flora and fauna commonly found on railway embankments, will be planted around the building. The ‘Railway Gardens’ will increase biodiversity, helping the museum to meet its net zero carbon targets, support sustainable drainage and offer new volunteering opportunities for the local community.
Locomotion’s New Hall is part of the ‘Vision 2025’ development which will transform the National Railway Museum in York and Locomotion in Shildon to create reinvented and inspiring 21st-century visitor attractions.
Locomotion’s New Hall has been generously supported by Durham County Council (Lead Funder), Wolfson Foundation (Major Funder), The Foyle Foundation (Major Funder), Sir James Knott Trust (Associate Funder), The Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust (Associate Funder), The Platten Family Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland (Funder), and Northumbrian Water Branch Out Fund.