The National Railway Museum’s site at Shildon is to have a new collection building that will house up to 50 rail vehicles, bringing the total at Locomotion to 120 and creating the UK’s largest rail vehicle display.
AOC Architecture has been appointed by the Science Museum Group to start work on a £4.5 million project as part of Locomotion’s £6 million improvement programme to regenerate the museum’s historic site, with Durham County Council contributing £2.25 million to support the delivery of the new building.
The architects will create a sustainable, low maintenance and low energy-usage building, which is sympathetic to the local area and accessible for visitors.
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.
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 approximately 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 exact line-up of new vehicles travelling to the new building will be determined in the coming year, but for the first time, it will enable Locomotion to ‘theme’ displays and tell more comprehensive railway stories.