New plans could safeguard future of Darlington railway museum

The Northern Echo: BACK ON TRACK: Filming of a documentary about football pioneer Arthur Wharton at the Head of Steam in 2011. Council chiefs say they have come up with a plan to save the closure-threatened attraction BACK ON TRACK: Filming of a documentary about football pioneer Arthur Wharton at the Head of Steam in 2011. Council chiefs say they have come up with a plan to save the closure-threatened attraction

PLANS have been unveiled that could safeguard the future of a popular railway museum that had faced closure.

Budget pressures had resulted in the announcement of plans to cut the £265,000 annual subsidy Darlington Borough Council pays to operate the town's Head of Steam Museum.

But members of the council’s cabinet are now being asked to continue the subsidy beyond 2016/17, when it was due to end.

It now looks as though the museum could play a key role in plans, currently under development, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the world’s first passenger line, in 2025.

To that end, members have also been asked to endorse a proposed application for World Heritage Site status for the 1825 railway.

A report prepared for cabinet members said: “While budget pressures remain a challenge, there is a need to create a vision plan that secures a sustainable future for the Head of Steam.

“Recent stakeholder engagement has revealed the importance of Darlington’s railway heritage as a key component in the unique offer of the town.

“The proud heritage of innovation, skills, engineering and world firsts that the town has is seen as key economic selling point.”

Members are also being asked to approve an initial investment of £10,000 to fund a public engagement and consultation process around the plans.

The report added: “There have been a number of development inquiries in the area surrounding the Head of Steam, and for uses within the site itself, that could contribute to the creation of an exciting destination that will develop the wider economy.”

Council leader Bill Dixon said: "We recognise the global significance of Darlington as the birthplace of the passenger railway and we believe our railway heritage can be used as a catalyst for economic growth.

“We aim to develop a heritage campus with the Head of Steam museum as a key part of that.

"We’ll continue to fund the museum and plan to work with partners to generate the vision finance and activities that are needed.

“As part of the master plan we want to work alongside the private sector to compliment and improve the campus offering, turning the site into a significant attraction.”

The cabinet meets at the Town Hall 5pm on Tuesday, July 1.

Comments (9)

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9:24am Tue 24 Jun 14

laughingboy51 says...

If all else fails............the
y can always turn it into a car park!
If all else fails............the y can always turn it into a car park! laughingboy51
  • Score: -5

9:40am Tue 24 Jun 14

timhall13 says...

It's a great pity that many of the staff at the museum who meet the visitors on a day to day basis have so far been excluded from these discussions,when they have valuable experience to share. It seems curious that the council has not realised the importance of Darlington in the development of the passenger railways until now. Where have these Councillors been living?
It's a great pity that many of the staff at the museum who meet the visitors on a day to day basis have so far been excluded from these discussions,when they have valuable experience to share. It seems curious that the council has not realised the importance of Darlington in the development of the passenger railways until now. Where have these Councillors been living? timhall13
  • Score: 6

10:06am Tue 24 Jun 14

Alan Macnab says...

The Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway have been lobbying for this for some time. The Friends vision which is set out in our Business Plan is " to work with statutory, non statutory and voluntary bodies to identify, preserve, promote and develop the 1825 Stockton & Darlington Railway line as an educational, cultural and historic site of international significance and to develop its recreational, economic and tourism potential. The long term vision is to create a rail trail from its beginning at Phoenix Row in County Durham to its end in Stockton on Tees as well as securing National Heritage Listing for England and World Heritage Status for the 1825 route." Pleased, but am concerned that as a Borough Councillor I had to read about it in the Northern Echo first.
The Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway have been lobbying for this for some time. The Friends vision which is set out in our Business Plan is " to work with statutory, non statutory and voluntary bodies to identify, preserve, promote and develop the 1825 Stockton & Darlington Railway line as an educational, cultural and historic site of international significance and to develop its recreational, economic and tourism potential. The long term vision is to create a rail trail from its beginning at Phoenix Row in County Durham to its end in Stockton on Tees as well as securing National Heritage Listing for England and World Heritage Status for the 1825 route." Pleased, but am concerned that as a Borough Councillor I had to read about it in the Northern Echo first. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 8

10:48am Tue 24 Jun 14

Darloresident says...

Well done Alan Macnab.. If it were not for you and your supporters then this great towns railway history would be ignored..For years the council has been tarmacing and building on the original route.They couldn't care less about the towns proud history and its place in the industrial history of the world.
Why suddenly has Puffing Billy Dixon started taking an interest...
Could it be he has cottoned on that were Darlington to become a world heritage site and achieved global recognition then he as Council Leader may be able to bask in the reflected glory..
Who knows in 10 years it could be "Arise Sir Billy"
Well done Alan Macnab.. If it were not for you and your supporters then this great towns railway history would be ignored..For years the council has been tarmacing and building on the original route.They couldn't care less about the towns proud history and its place in the industrial history of the world. Why suddenly has Puffing Billy Dixon started taking an interest... Could it be he has cottoned on that were Darlington to become a world heritage site and achieved global recognition then he as Council Leader may be able to bask in the reflected glory.. Who knows in 10 years it could be "Arise Sir Billy" Darloresident
  • Score: 3

11:24am Tue 24 Jun 14

Awake-in-Darlo says...

Alan Macnab wrote:
The Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway have been lobbying for this for some time. The Friends vision which is set out in our Business Plan is " to work with statutory, non statutory and voluntary bodies to identify, preserve, promote and develop the 1825 Stockton & Darlington Railway line as an educational, cultural and historic site of international significance and to develop its recreational, economic and tourism potential. The long term vision is to create a rail trail from its beginning at Phoenix Row in County Durham to its end in Stockton on Tees as well as securing National Heritage Listing for England and World Heritage Status for the 1825 route." Pleased, but am concerned that as a Borough Councillor I had to read about it in the Northern Echo first.
Rather suspicious that suddenly the Cll Officers ? or whoever are realising that the town has a "Railway Heritage".( After the formation of the 1825 group has started to highlight embarrassing failures to protect our heritage up to now, and bearing in mind the 200th anniversary on the horizon...) I wouldn`t trust any rhetoric that is spouted from the Town Hall two-faced overpaid self-serving crew . Consultation, oh yes where have we heard that before ? Seems even elected councillors are not kept informed so what hope for mere ratepayers ? So transparent; would guess they think there could be kudos, or money, in it and if so it must not go to a group of enthusiasts or employees oh dear me no. As usual any benefits would go into council coffers,
[quote][p][bold]Alan Macnab[/bold] wrote: The Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway have been lobbying for this for some time. The Friends vision which is set out in our Business Plan is " to work with statutory, non statutory and voluntary bodies to identify, preserve, promote and develop the 1825 Stockton & Darlington Railway line as an educational, cultural and historic site of international significance and to develop its recreational, economic and tourism potential. The long term vision is to create a rail trail from its beginning at Phoenix Row in County Durham to its end in Stockton on Tees as well as securing National Heritage Listing for England and World Heritage Status for the 1825 route." Pleased, but am concerned that as a Borough Councillor I had to read about it in the Northern Echo first.[/p][/quote]Rather suspicious that suddenly the Cll Officers ? or whoever are realising that the town has a "Railway Heritage".( After the formation of the 1825 group has started to highlight embarrassing failures to protect our heritage up to now, and bearing in mind the 200th anniversary on the horizon...) I wouldn`t trust any rhetoric that is spouted from the Town Hall two-faced overpaid self-serving crew . Consultation, oh yes where have we heard that before ? Seems even elected councillors are not kept informed so what hope for mere ratepayers ? So transparent; would guess they think there could be kudos, or money, in it and if so it must not go to a group of enthusiasts or employees oh dear me no. As usual any benefits would go into council coffers, Awake-in-Darlo
  • Score: 5

12:03pm Tue 24 Jun 14

Homshaw1 says...

Didn't realise the original line went to Phoenix Row. Drive past it regularly on my way to Crook. I will view it with a renewed respect.

I don't really understand what this heritage campus entails or where the money comes from
Didn't realise the original line went to Phoenix Row. Drive past it regularly on my way to Crook. I will view it with a renewed respect. I don't really understand what this heritage campus entails or where the money comes from Homshaw1
  • Score: 6

4:34pm Tue 24 Jun 14

gramps427 says...

Its good to see the hard work by Alan and the members of the Friends of the D&S Railway is being recognised by the Council after many years of lobbying.
Keeping the museum open for another 2 years will help enormously by giving them the time to work on the Line and making it worthy of World Heritage Site status as well as making it a major visitor attraction. This would bring opportunities for local businesses and potential footfall for our shops, stations and airport.
Its good to see the hard work by Alan and the members of the Friends of the D&S Railway is being recognised by the Council after many years of lobbying. Keeping the museum open for another 2 years will help enormously by giving them the time to work on the Line and making it worthy of World Heritage Site status as well as making it a major visitor attraction. This would bring opportunities for local businesses and potential footfall for our shops, stations and airport. gramps427
  • Score: -1

5:15pm Tue 24 Jun 14

Spy Boy says...

Bill ( Photo Opportunity ) Dixon getting in on the act again after years of neglecting the status of this site. I just can't believe the brass neck of this guy. Any council with any imagination at all would be making millions out of this historic building and heritage site. Darlington's council cabinet just sit on their hands. It takes a single Liberal Councillor to fight for recognition. How much longer must we suffer the burden of Burns and Dixon?
Bill ( Photo Opportunity ) Dixon getting in on the act again after years of neglecting the status of this site. I just can't believe the brass neck of this guy. Any council with any imagination at all would be making millions out of this historic building and heritage site. Darlington's council cabinet just sit on their hands. It takes a single Liberal Councillor to fight for recognition. How much longer must we suffer the burden of Burns and Dixon? Spy Boy
  • Score: 1

5:37pm Tue 24 Jun 14

mikyman says...

Sod history,stick social housing on it so Puffing Billy can fill the depleted coffers.
Sorry to be so cynical but this council wants to build on any piece of unused land it can find
.All that green space around the station,lots of luvly new homes with financial handouts from the gov.,
Who cares about the heritage and history of this town the council dont..
Sod history,stick social housing on it so Puffing Billy can fill the depleted coffers. Sorry to be so cynical but this council wants to build on any piece of unused land it can find .All that green space around the station,lots of luvly new homes with financial handouts from the gov., Who cares about the heritage and history of this town the council dont.. mikyman
  • Score: 0

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