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New building exhibition

Scheduled to open in May 2024, our new building will allow us to display more rail vehicles from the national collection, which will make Locomotion home to the largest museum collection of rail vehicles in Europe.

See our plans

This exhibition ran at the museum from 19–23 January 2022 and we are keeping it online for anyone who might have missed it.

Transforming our site

Diagram of the site layout

Our masterplan

Locomotion’s new building is part of our wider masterplan to transform the museum. It goes way beyond creating a new building, allowing us to tell the exciting and inspirational role played by Shildon and the North-East in the global railway story. It also allows us to safeguard the collection, diversify our volunteer team and create new jobs. It will allow us to reinvigorate our heritage buildings, provide new green spaces and embed this museum at the heart of the community.

A building for the future

Located in the world’s first railway town, Locomotion is a key hub in the plans to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 2025. The new building and the wider developments here will allow us to tell a coherent story that reveals Shildon’s role in early railway development. By doing this, we will use our collections and buildings to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists.

Section of 4 images

A new collection building for Shildon

The building

Locomotion’s new building draws on the aesthetic of an engine shed, linking it back to Shildon’s history as the world’s first railway town. Simple in design and occupying a footprint of 2000m2, the new building will accommodate an additional 45 vehicles from the national collection. These will be displayed on three pairs of tracks allowing visitors to easily see the vehicles and learn about their history and significance.


The new building will be located on the site immediately to the west of the existing museum on the brownfield site locally known as “Ashfields”. In its current state, the site detracts from the local area and also impacts negatively on the overall museum visitor experience. The new building provides an important opportunity to re-use the land and contribute to the transformation of this area of Shildon.

New building pics

The new space

A drawing of the new interior
Internal view looking west from the entrance


The new building combines the spatial generosity and silver metal of the contemporary collections’ building with the distinct silhouettes and warm tones of the local historic railway buildings. The grand scale of the rail vehicles is matched by the expansive surfaces and generous access doors of the large span structure, enriched with the addition of entrance lobbies, gutters and drainpipes. Visitor entrances are identified through raised parapets and light coloured surface highlights, creating legible figures in the expansive landscape of the museum site.


High-performing materials support a low-energy means of achieving a stable internal environment that will protect and conserve the collection. Insulated metal cladding panels provide a decorative exterior and high levels of insulation. Large north-east facing windows provide stunning views out and mitigate solar heat gain. An expressed portal frame structure allows for an unrestricted internal layout suited to the scale of the railway vehicles. Concrete walkways and ballast provide thermal mass and a robust, beautiful floor finish. These simple, hard-wearing materials will provide a long lasting home for the collection.

Open for all

Lighting, acoustics and accessibility for all have been carefully considered to provide a high-quality visitor experience that will enhance enjoyment of the collection.

Locomotion new building plan
Proposed building plan

Sustainability and our site

Locomotion landscape plan
Proposed landscape plan
  1. Proposed new building
  2. New hard-paved apron
  3. Main entrance welcome space with seating
  4. Accessible pedestrian path between buildings
  5. Soft landscape with railway meadow grassland seeding
  6. Existing hard landscape with soft landscape ‘cut outs’ to attenuate
    roof rainwater run-off
  7. New perimeter fence and native hedgerow planting
  8. New entrance formed with vehicular and pedestrian gates
  9. Existing woodland and boundary trees retained

Our ambition

Locomotion has an aspirational sustainability agenda and this project will help us move towards achieving our goal of being net zero carbon by 2033. The design for our new building draws on passive environmental design principles that are light touch with minimal environmental impact.

The building

Sustainability is the uppermost consideration in the design of Building Two. It will incorporate high levels of insulation to reduce the demand for heating and cooling. Natural means of keeping the space at an ambient temperature are key, including fresh air circulation, control of ‘solar gain’ and providing an airtight environment.

Our site

The new building will be set in a landscape that encourages biodiversity. Existing trees will be retained wherever possible, and the boundary fencing will be softened with hedgerow planting to provide a range of habitats. We will also extend our existing planting schemes to develop more wildflower meadows across the site to replicate what is found next to many railway sites across the UK.

As a key hub on the new Stockton & Darlington Railway walking and cycling route, our car park will be upgraded to include charging points for electric vehicles, and we are increasing our provision of racks and storage for visitors who arrive by bicycle.

Reference images

Past, present, future

The prototype Deltic on display in the current Collections Building
The prototype Deltic on display in the current Collection Building

Displaying the collection

The new building will allow us to display an additional 45 vehicles from the national collection. It will also allow us to tell a strong, coherent story across our entire site for the first time since Locomotion opened in 2004.

The collection building

Taking inspiration from our location, vehicles in the existing collection building will be redisplayed to tell stories focusing on rail development and innovation in the UK and beyond over a period of two centuries and more.

The heart of industry

The new building enables us to go into more depth on crucial aspects of railway history, previously under-explored by our museum here and at the National Railway Museum in York. The exceptional importance of coal in the development of the railways will be explored along with related stories of freight transportation and the industrial railway. The Shildon story will also be front and centre with several Shildon Works built vehicles on display.

The world's first railway town

The recently restored buildings at the western end of the Locomotion site provide a unique glimpse into Shildon’s early history and the Georgian railway landscape. Interpretation of these buildings will highlight their importance to the railway story and show their connection to the vehicles on display.

What's next?

  • Public consultation January 2022
  • Planning submission early 2022
  • Planning approved in Spring 2022
  • Construction works began on site January 2023
  • New building opens mid-2024

Next steps

Construction of the new building is scheduled to commence in autumn 2022 and will be opened in autumn 2023.


Building: AOC Architecture
Landscape: J&L Gibbons

Lower images x3