Work has now officially begun on Darlington's Railway Heritage Quarter which provides a new home for the Trust and will be at the heart of the Bicentennial Anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 2025. Using a firing shovel, Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Council, had the honour of breaking the ground to mark the start of construction of Darlington's Railway Heritage Quarter.
The photos cover the special day and the video
gives a glimpse of how the new Heritage Quarter will look with some example locomotives created via CGI.
Darlington’s Railway Heritage Quarter is a major project that will invest in the town's rail heritage ahead of the bicentennial anniversary in 2025 to create a national visitor destination in Darlington. Heritage and cultural regeneration are now recognised as a key ingredient in economic growth and the Railway Heritage Quarter will complement the economic growth ambition of the Borough. The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust has been involved since the beginning of this project some twelve year ago, providing input on strategy, capability, history and engineering.
Essential improvements will be carried out on several significantly historic buildings on the site, linking them together to create a cluster of attractions including the Skerne Bridge, the oldest working railway bridge in the world.
Digital and technological investment will bring history to life and plans include a new immersive ride experience the likes of which are only seen at theme parks. The Railway Heritage Quarter will have a café and shop, themed play area, show field, a new live engineering building, temporary exhibition space, archive and extended car parking, which will attract all generations to visit for years to come.
The project is being supported by £20million of funding from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.
Councillor Heather Scott cuts the first sod for the Heritage Quarter
Councillor Heather Scott, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said, "The Railway Heritage Quarter is a key project in our plans to celebrate Darlington's unique rail heritage and will give present and future generations the opportunity to use new technology to explore the history of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. This is urban regeneration and heritage celebration at its very best. Darlington has long been known for its engineering excellence both past and present and this fabulous project will help showcase our proud history."
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said, "The Stockton & Darlington Railway was just one way our region had a massive impact on the world, that can still be felt to this day. Local people are rightly proud of this heritage and it's only right we help tell its story.
We've backed the Rail Heritage Quarter with £20million to make sure it does justice to our history and becomes a major part of the region's S&DR 200th
anniversary celebrations. These exciting plans show the scale of ambition to make it a top-quality attraction, which will be a huge draw for rail enthusiasts, history buffs and families alike and help provide a boost for our brilliant businesses."
Mike Crawshaw (DBC) addresses the assembled audience
Councillor Scott takes the podium
Darlington Mayoress, Councillor Cyndi Hughes, admires No. 2007
The new facilities for the A1SLT will comprise a double track workshop, administration block, storage, inspection pits and an electrical workshop house in one building with a direct connection to the national network. It should be ready for use by Summer 2023. It is also hoped to secure funding to provide a turntable adjacent to the new facility by 2025.
The attached imagery covers the special day and the video gives a glimpse of how the new Heritage Quarter will look with some example locomotives created via CGI.