Councillor "quietly confident" World Heritage Site bid for Darlington will be a success

The Northern Echo: LOOKING BACK: Lucy Adlington and Meridith Towne of Historic Wardrobe perform at The Head of Steam in Darlington (file picture) LOOKING BACK: Lucy Adlington and Meridith Towne of Historic Wardrobe perform at The Head of Steam in Darlington (file picture)

A SENIOR councillor has said he is “quietly confident” that a bid for World Heritage Site status for Darlington’s 1825 railway will be successful.

Gaining the high profile status, which would put Darlington on par with Stonehenge and Durham Cathedral, is a key plank of a rescue plan for the town’s Head of Steam museum, which tells the story of the first passenger railway line, the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

As revealed by The Northern Echo, plans to cut the £265,000 annual subsidy Darlington Borough Council pays to keep the North Road museum open from 2015/16 look set to be shelved by councillors next week.

Instead, plans for a ‘heritage campus’ at the museum and surrounding buildings, many of which date back to the 1825 railway, have been revealed with the aim of bringing private businesses and tourists to the town.

The bid for World Heritage Site status, recognising Darlington’s role at the forefront of the railways and the Industrial Revolution, would provide a major boost to the plans to create a tourist economy.

Councillor Nick Wallis, cabinet member for leisure and local environment, said the council had been unable to find an economic strategy for the museum that could work without a subsidy.

He admitted that the council had not made the most of Darlington’s heritage assets in the past, but rejected claims the authority had neglected those assets.

He said: “The fact is that we’ve not been able to find a model for the Head of Steam that keeps it open at nil cost.

“We don’t know where we will find the money from to keep it going - it will have to come from other budgets. But the heritage campus will attract investment and jobs and in the long term it is what is best for the town.

“We don’t claim to have all the answers or all the money to do this. We need private businesses to come forward with ideas.”

He added: “Has the council done a good job in preserving the heritage? I believe it has.

“Has the council always fully realised the potential of those assets? No, probably not but this is a fantastic opportunity.

“With the 200th anniversary coming in 2025 and the World Heritage Site status bid, those are two fantastic twin ambitions to put Darlington on the map.”

Asked about the bid for World Heritage Site status, he said: “I’m quietly confident. There is a lot of work to be done but all the pieces are there to create a compelling bid."

Coun Wallis also suggested that the council could reconsider the £4.95 adult entry fee for the museum as the facility competes with the National Railway Museum sites at York and Shildon, which are free to enter.

Ian Williams, director of economic growth at the council, said the ‘heritage campus’ would make use of unused buildings on the site of the Head of Steam and create a facility that people wanted to visit and return to.

He added: “We can’t look at the Head of Steam in isolation. We’ve had a lot of interest from private businesses, such as the brewery idea. The council will invest in the museum but we want the private sector to come forward and enrich the site.”

Comments (8)

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7:49am Wed 25 Jun 14

Homshaw1 says...

The council has not done a good job. The.station was revamped by George Beckwith and Nacro, who had little money and plenty of passion' since then DBC have spent a fortune of tatepayer's money and made little progress. It has allowed building on the original line. The area around the historic sites have been allowed to become run down and unattractive to visitors and in a recent debate one councilor said we should not dwell in the past. The town center revamp moved away from a historic Victorian theme. Where is he coming from?
'
The council has not done a good job. The.station was revamped by George Beckwith and Nacro, who had little money and plenty of passion' since then DBC have spent a fortune of tatepayer's money and made little progress. It has allowed building on the original line. The area around the historic sites have been allowed to become run down and unattractive to visitors and in a recent debate one councilor said we should not dwell in the past. The town center revamp moved away from a historic Victorian theme. Where is he coming from? ' Homshaw1
  • Score: 2

8:06am Wed 25 Jun 14

DarloXman says...

World Heritage Site? Is this really what the council is aiming for?

I thought they were trying to make Darlington a Wildlife Park - they are certainly doing a great job by allowing grassed areas to become overgrown, with grass verges along the A66/67 already 3 ft high in places. We're all also going to need Safari Jeeps shortly just to navigate pot holed roads in the town!

The future of Head of Steam is in the hands of the council I'm sorry to say it has no chance!
World Heritage Site? Is this really what the council is aiming for? I thought they were trying to make Darlington a Wildlife Park - they are certainly doing a great job by allowing grassed areas to become overgrown, with grass verges along the A66/67 already 3 ft high in places. We're all also going to need Safari Jeeps shortly just to navigate pot holed roads in the town! The future of Head of Steam is in the hands of the council I'm sorry to say it has no chance! DarloXman
  • Score: 6

9:39am Wed 25 Jun 14

LUSTARD says...

i would love to take a steam train ride from darlington to leyburn or york etc, i imagine people coming from around the world would like to too, imagine.
i would love to take a steam train ride from darlington to leyburn or york etc, i imagine people coming from around the world would like to too, imagine. LUSTARD
  • Score: 9

12:17pm Wed 25 Jun 14

Alan Macnab says...

I have written to Councillors Dixon, McEwan and Wallis and the Chief Executive of Darlington Borough Council this morning as Secretary of the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway stating that the Friends will support a bid for World Heritage Status but it must be one for County Durham, Darlington and Stockton on Tees where the 1825 line ran through. The Friends are firmly committed to the economic regeneration of the towns and villages along the route of the 1825 line in County Durham, Darlington and Stockton on Tees which will come from heritage tourism.
I have written to Councillors Dixon, McEwan and Wallis and the Chief Executive of Darlington Borough Council this morning as Secretary of the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway stating that the Friends will support a bid for World Heritage Status but it must be one for County Durham, Darlington and Stockton on Tees where the 1825 line ran through. The Friends are firmly committed to the economic regeneration of the towns and villages along the route of the 1825 line in County Durham, Darlington and Stockton on Tees which will come from heritage tourism. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 2

5:17pm Wed 25 Jun 14

tomtopper says...

World heritage site? Darlington? You have to be kidding.. If that place gets wold heritage status then pretty much anywhere can.. Ok it has a history with railways, but it's nothing but a euro-style ghetto now, The claim to fame now being the amount of gypsies in the place, and terrible parking arrangements.. Horrible place, glad I don't live there..
World heritage site? Darlington? You have to be kidding.. If that place gets wold heritage status then pretty much anywhere can.. Ok it has a history with railways, but it's nothing but a euro-style ghetto now, The claim to fame now being the amount of gypsies in the place, and terrible parking arrangements.. Horrible place, glad I don't live there.. tomtopper
  • Score: -4

6:30pm Wed 25 Jun 14

Spy Boy says...

Wheelie Bin Wallis strikes again. Honestly! "Has the council done enough? I think they have." As ever, fluent in the ancient language of Bo##ocks. They have done nothing really worth while, in my opinion. It should look more like Beamish and have a period look. You need to actually feel as though you have stepped back in time, instead of a poorly planned mix of old and new. There is plenty of room in the grounds for a general purpose museum / lecture theatre. Everything should be railway based.

This is a world heritage site and we should do all we can to make it a success. The council cabinet have done nothing worth noting. I would have had a much more radical future planned and it would really build on the past. The council were on about selling it off to a brewery! What a bunch of useless clowns. We'll be getting more cr#p flats built on the site soon.
Wheelie Bin Wallis strikes again. Honestly! "Has the council done enough? I think they have." As ever, fluent in the ancient language of Bo##ocks. They have done nothing really worth while, in my opinion. It should look more like Beamish and have a period look. You need to actually feel as though you have stepped back in time, instead of a poorly planned mix of old and new. There is plenty of room in the grounds for a general purpose museum / lecture theatre. Everything should be railway based. This is a world heritage site and we should do all we can to make it a success. The council cabinet have done nothing worth noting. I would have had a much more radical future planned and it would really build on the past. The council were on about selling it off to a brewery! What a bunch of useless clowns. We'll be getting more cr#p flats built on the site soon. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

9:08pm Wed 25 Jun 14

MAGPIES12 says...

ABOUT TIME ...I AND MANY OTHERS HAVE MADE LOADS OF COMMENTS ABOUT DARLING TONS AMAZING HISTORICAL PAST UN RIVALLED ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD ...VERY POORLY EXPLOITED NEVER WELL FUNDED WITH THE DOPEY BRICK TRAIN ..AND THAT RIDICULOUS EFFORT THAT STOOD OUTSIDE THE MARKET HALL
REPRESENTING THE ROCKET.
BUT THEY MANAGED TO FIND A FEW MILLION TO REVAMP THE TOWN CENTRE WITH WATER CASCADING DOWN THE NEW STEPS
NON OF WITCH BROUGHT VISITORS TO THE TOWN
ON ANYTHING LIKE THE SCALE THAT RE VAMPING OUR RAILWAY HERITAGE WOULD HAVE DONE ...IF THOSE NUMB SCULLS LEARNED TO LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE WE WOULD HAVE BEEN OVERRUN WITH VISITORS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD ..FOR YEARS .
ABOUT TIME ...I AND MANY OTHERS HAVE MADE LOADS OF COMMENTS ABOUT DARLING TONS AMAZING HISTORICAL PAST UN RIVALLED ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD ...VERY POORLY EXPLOITED NEVER WELL FUNDED WITH THE DOPEY BRICK TRAIN ..AND THAT RIDICULOUS EFFORT THAT STOOD OUTSIDE THE MARKET HALL REPRESENTING THE ROCKET. BUT THEY MANAGED TO FIND A FEW MILLION TO REVAMP THE TOWN CENTRE WITH WATER CASCADING DOWN THE NEW STEPS NON OF WITCH BROUGHT VISITORS TO THE TOWN ON ANYTHING LIKE THE SCALE THAT RE VAMPING OUR RAILWAY HERITAGE WOULD HAVE DONE ...IF THOSE NUMB SCULLS LEARNED TO LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE WE WOULD HAVE BEEN OVERRUN WITH VISITORS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD ..FOR YEARS . MAGPIES12
  • Score: 1

10:34pm Wed 25 Jun 14

mikyman says...

Sorry,Mr Macnab,but do you honestly think that this bunch of idiots in charge will be able to organise any bid for World Heritage status.
No they have their eyes on building new houses on the site.Think of all that luvly money for new houses from govt.
Just right to be spent on other useless projects etc.
Lets not get too excited!
Sorry,Mr Macnab,but do you honestly think that this bunch of idiots in charge will be able to organise any bid for World Heritage status. No they have their eyes on building new houses on the site.Think of all that luvly money for new houses from govt. Just right to be spent on other useless projects etc. Lets not get too excited! mikyman
  • Score: 1
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