County Durham Museum to Hold Largest Display of Rail Vehicles in the UK

Updated: Feb 26




Head of Locomotion, Dr Sarah Price (Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT)


ARCHITECTS have been appointed to start work on a £4.5m project to deliver a new collection building at a County Durham museum. Once complete, the facility will house up to 50 rail vehicles, bringing the total at Locomotion, in Shildon, to 120 and creating the UK’s largest rail vehicle display, spread across the museum's two buildings.

The building is part of Locomotion’s £6m improvement programme to regenerate the museum’s historic site, with Durham County Council contributing £2.25m to support the delivery of the new building. The final design will feature a lightweight, steel frame construction that will be open to the public and will house railway vehicles in a stable environment.

Construction is due to start in April 2022 subject to planning permission being granted for the development, with work scheduled to be complete by early 2023. AOC Architecture has been appointed after a competitive design tender which ran earlier in the year.

Plans for the new collections care facility at the Ashfield brownfield site, formerly occupied by a banana processing plant, were first announced in January and, following the completion of a land transfer, the project can now proceed to the design and construction phase.

The building will increase the number of rail vehicles on display from the Science Museum Group Collection to about 120 – creating the largest rail vehicle display in the country.

Sarah Price, head of Locomotion said: “This is the most significant change to Locomotion since opening and it will create a more inviting presence that emphasises Locomotion’s pivotal role as a cultural cornerstone for the community. Access to Locomotion and the site’s historically significant collection will remain free for all visitors, helping us to create a lasting and meaningful legacy that celebrates the region’s globally important role as the birthplace of the railways.”

Locomotion is already home to famous vehicles from railway history such as the Deltic prototype and the original Sans Pareil which competed against Rocket in the Rainhill Trials of 1829.

The new building is part of the National Railway Museum’s £55.3m "Vision 2025" project, which will transform both museums in York and Locomotion.

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