FUNDING for repairs to one of the oldest railway buildings in the world is set to be debated by Darlington councillors tomorrow (Tuesday, April 29).
Darlington Borough Council has proposed to release £150,000 of capital funding to the former Stockton and Darlington Railway Goods Shed, a Grade II-listed building at the Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum site.
If agreed by the council’s cabinet, the funds would be used to carry out ‘essential electrical and associated refurbishment’ of the building, which is home to the Darlington Railway Preservation Society (DRPS).
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The proposed funding for the goods shed, which matches £150,000 previously allocated to the former Hopetown Carriageworks, comes despite the uncertainty over the future of the Head of Steam complex.
The council announced last year that it will not be able to fund the site, the hub of Darlington’s railway heritage, beyond 2016 when it faces closure unless another group can be found to run it.
The issue is not addressed in a report prepared for cabinet members, who meet tomorrow (Tuesday) at 5pm.
In the report, officers state that the funds for the repairs were allocated in the 2012/13 capital budget and can now be released.
The report added: “The remedial works proposed for the building will ensure it meets statutory requirements and provides a flexible workshop facility within one of Darlington’s important railway heritage assets.
“Should the cost of the electrical works be below the £150,000 released, a number of other internal and external works have also been identified by the external consultant as needing attention and it would be prudent to address these at the same time on a priority basis.”
The DRPS has made repeated calls in recent years for refurbishment work to the building, in particular to its specialist three-phase electricity supply required for the machinery used to restore heritage locomotives.
Barrie Lamb, chairman of DRPS, said: “Obviously we are delighted. We have been asking for this to be done since 2005, so it’s great if it comes off.
“The electrics is the main thing because we don’t even have proper lights but we’ve been told it needs repairs to the guttering, the pointing and the doors.
“We hope that this money and the refurbishments will help us to attract new, younger members and help us to preserve our railway heritage in Darlington.”