We’re investing in our site to create a better experience for our visitors, a safe environment for our collection of railway vehicles and a sustainable future for our important historic buildings.
We will also enhance our interpretation to better tell the significant story of Shildon and its contribution to the development of railways worldwide. Shildon is the world’s first railway town and the workplace of railway pioneer Timothy Hackworth. We will continue to share and inspire the next generation of engineers and innovators with this story.
The new building
The new building is the largest in a series of regeneration projects planned for Locomotion in the run up to the historically significant bicentenary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 2025.
The new building will celebrate the region’s globally important role as the birthplace of the railways. Doubling the covered display space on site and providing free access to visitors, it will be home to an additional 50 vehicles creating the UK’s largest rail vehicle display. The sustainable and sensitively designed open store will create new opportunities for visitors to engage with the museum’s collection and be an inviting presence that emphasises Locomotion’s pivotal role as a cultural cornerstone for the community.
AOC Architecture has been appointed to bring this project to life. 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.
The significance of Shildon
A fitting centrepiece to the redeveloped museum and to further recognise Shildon’s role as the birthplace of the modern passenger railway will be the return of the historic steam engine Locomotion No.1—the very first to haul a scheduled passenger train. The locomotive is part of the national collection, cared for by the Science Museum Group. At the end of its current loan period, it will travel the short distance home to Shildon, from where it set off on its very first journey nearly 200 years ago.
Conserving our historic site
We’re committed to repairing our historic buildings and structures—the original reminders of Shildon’s pioneering role in history.
Our redevelopment will see the repair and rejuvenation of Locomotion’s historic buildings including the former home of Timothy Hackworth, the first locomotive superintendent of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. In total, seven buildings will be preserved, including railway cottages, the goods shed and parcel office. The buildings are a fantastic asset and embody the rich history of the area.
The £1.6m repair project started on site in January 2020 and is due to be complete in early 2021. The project to restore Locomotion’s historic buildings is funded by Durham County Council and the Science Museum Group. Read more about progress.
Preserving the past
Plans to move Gaunless Bridge to Locomotion is the latest in an ambitious conservation project. An object of tremendous historical and technological significance for the North East and designed by renowned railway pioneer George Stephenson, it was one of the first iron railway bridges in the world. Built in 1823 in Newcastle upon Tyne, the bridge spanned the River Gaunless in West Auckland, County Durham, on the Stockton & Darlington Railway, a location just a short distance from Shildon. The bridge will form a focal point of our redeveloped visitor experience.