Councillors call for the public to bring their ideas for the future of the Head of Steam Museum

HERITAGE SITE: Tim Crawshaw, officer for environment and urban design at Darlington Borough Council, Cllr Chris McEwan, Cllr Nick Wallis and John Anderson, the council's assistant director for regeneration, with Locomotion No. 1 at the Head of Steam M

HERITAGE SITE: Tim Crawshaw, officer for environment and urban design at Darlington Borough Council, Cllr Chris McEwan, Cllr Nick Wallis and John Anderson, the council's assistant director for regeneration, with Locomotion No. 1 at the Head of Steam M

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Darlington reporter

COUNCILLORS have called on rail enthusiasts, business owners and members of the public to come up with ideas to help secure the future of a popular North-East railway museum.

Plans to rejuvenate Darlington’s Head of Steam Museum to make it financially viable - while also celebrating the upcoming 200th anniversary as the birthplace of the railways - were announced earlier this year.

Darlington Borough Council is looking to create a ‘heritage campus’ around the museum site by incorporating a number of buildings dating back to the 1825 Stockton and Darlington Railway.

It is also making plans to submit a bit to have the area around the North Road-based museum designated as a World Heritage Site, recognising the town’s contribution to the Industrial Revolution.

Nick Wallis, cabinet member for leisure, said Darlington had an “embarrassment of riches”, not just on the museum site but throughout the North Road and town centre areas, which could all be integrated in the heritage campus.

He said: “There is room on the site to do new things that are sympathetic to the heritage we have here.

“We want feedback on how the museum is at the moment as well as ideas on what could be brought here.”

A number of consultation events will be held to gather the ideas of interested parties about how the museum site could become a more attractive and well-used tourist site.

Among the consultation events is a Jazz and Beer Festival due to be held at the museum on Saturday, October 11, which the council hopes will give people an idea of how the museum could operate.

Early ideas include opening a link between the museum and the adjoining Bishop Auckland railway line, which could lead to steam engine trips to other towns, and allowing new businesses to open on the site, perhaps similar to The Station, at Richmond.

However, John Anderson, the council’s assistant director for economic development, said the authority was starting the consultation with “as blank a piece of paper as possible”.

He added: “We’ve got the buildings and the site itself as a starting point but beyond that we want ideas.

“We want to create a place that people come back to and that holds interest for people even if railways are not their key interest.”

Consultation events will be held at the following dates and locations:

- September 13 and 14: Heritage Open Days at the Head of Steam Museum – free access to the museum and guided tours between 10am and 4pm.

- September 14: a stall will be available at the Rhythm and Blues Festival in Darlington town centre.

- September 27 and 28: a stall at the Festival of Thrift at Lingfield Point

- October 11: Jazz and Beer Festival at Head of Steam

More information is also available at the Darlington Borough Council Facebook page and on its website.

Comments (23)

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9:05pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Alan Macnab says...

It's a pity that none of the Railway Heritage Group, including the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, were invited to this. The Friends and other railway heritage groups and other groups gave the Council their ideas at the last Group meeting at the end of June but none of the ideas seem to have been taken on board. The problem with the museum is that the income of the museum is £48,000 and the expenditure is £430,000. Again the Group gave the Council the route map to reducing the museum deficit and eventually surviving without the Council subsidy. Again that doesn't appear to have been taken on board by the Council. The Friends will make a submission. More substance and less spin is needed.
It's a pity that none of the Railway Heritage Group, including the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, were invited to this. The Friends and other railway heritage groups and other groups gave the Council their ideas at the last Group meeting at the end of June but none of the ideas seem to have been taken on board. The problem with the museum is that the income of the museum is £48,000 and the expenditure is £430,000. Again the Group gave the Council the route map to reducing the museum deficit and eventually surviving without the Council subsidy. Again that doesn't appear to have been taken on board by the Council. The Friends will make a submission. More substance and less spin is needed. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 17

9:21pm Wed 3 Sep 14

JakeTodhunter says...

Why don't volunteers run it?
Why don't volunteers run it? JakeTodhunter
  • Score: -3

9:31pm Wed 3 Sep 14

LUSTARD says...

Alan Macnab wrote:
It's a pity that none of the Railway Heritage Group, including the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, were invited to this. The Friends and other railway heritage groups and other groups gave the Council their ideas at the last Group meeting at the end of June but none of the ideas seem to have been taken on board. The problem with the museum is that the income of the museum is £48,000 and the expenditure is £430,000. Again the Group gave the Council the route map to reducing the museum deficit and eventually surviving without the Council subsidy. Again that doesn't appear to have been taken on board by the Council. The Friends will make a submission. More substance and less spin is needed.
can we have a breakdown on those figures
[quote][p][bold]Alan Macnab[/bold] wrote: It's a pity that none of the Railway Heritage Group, including the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, were invited to this. The Friends and other railway heritage groups and other groups gave the Council their ideas at the last Group meeting at the end of June but none of the ideas seem to have been taken on board. The problem with the museum is that the income of the museum is £48,000 and the expenditure is £430,000. Again the Group gave the Council the route map to reducing the museum deficit and eventually surviving without the Council subsidy. Again that doesn't appear to have been taken on board by the Council. The Friends will make a submission. More substance and less spin is needed.[/p][/quote]can we have a breakdown on those figures LUSTARD
  • Score: 2

9:34pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Alan Macnab says...

Yes. I am on Facebook and if you contact me through that means Lustard I can send them to you.
Yes. I am on Facebook and if you contact me through that means Lustard I can send them to you. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 4

9:34pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Alan Macnab says...

Yes. I am on Facebook and if you contact me through that means Lustard I can send them to you.
Yes. I am on Facebook and if you contact me through that means Lustard I can send them to you. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 2

10:12pm Wed 3 Sep 14

laughingboy51 says...

Why would the councillers want our input......this is their job to sort things out that's why they stand for election and go on these boards etc,......that's why people voted for them, now they haven't got a clue so are asking the voters what they think........for crying out loud.
Why would the councillers want our input......this is their job to sort things out that's why they stand for election and go on these boards etc,......that's why people voted for them, now they haven't got a clue so are asking the voters what they think........for crying out loud. laughingboy51
  • Score: -4

10:19pm Wed 3 Sep 14

DarloXman says...

Why not ask Ms Ada Burns (OBE Nominated), our Chief Executive?

Surely anyone being paid an obscene £186,000 per year could come up with a couple of ideas!
Why not ask Ms Ada Burns (OBE Nominated), our Chief Executive? Surely anyone being paid an obscene £186,000 per year could come up with a couple of ideas! DarloXman
  • Score: 11

12:33am Thu 4 Sep 14

MAGPIES12 says...

WELL I NEVER there's a bit of hope yet..
let me say for years i and a few others on line NO that's not a pun
have been banging the internet drum as to why the greatest transport method in history developed here in Darlington has not cashed in on the
legacy the heritage of this amazing feat of engineering...what do visitors to England come to see ...usually some crap in London ..the London eye the shops big ben etc etc... the locomotion ..did you ever see a picture of Darlington locomotion on tv every night as a background to the news
or any other program ..no ....would Walt Disney allow folks to forget there main attraction...chances are if you asked the average American who invented the steam locomotion passenger train
they would name an American company..
if you asked many folks around the world that same question
they would struggle to answer ...
Darlington has the bragging rights till the end of time on the greatest of all achievements ..still in use all over the world being re invented in the same mould all over the world
someone with advertising flair and a love of trains and Darlington
with a high profile i politics or show biz should spearhead the campaign
not the council they have absolutely no idea how to run a business
they need to give the job to a expert in bringing such things to life and keeping it alive ..i have said all along ..people will come from all over the world TO DARLINGTON TO LOOK IN AWE AND WONDERMENT
AT THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE WORLDS RAILWAYS.
and they will spend money by the trainload......go on organise steam train trips from London to Darlington...to see the home of the railways
birthplace of the industrial revolution ...expand the museum ...never fails to sicken me that York has a bigger museum ..put huge signs up
people WILL COME re open the town centre market get rid of the ridiculously hamstringing parking restraints ..
DO I NEED TO SAY MORE
wayne norman
retired award winning council worker
WELL I NEVER there's a bit of hope yet.. let me say for years i and a few others on line NO that's not a pun have been banging the internet drum as to why the greatest transport method in history developed here in Darlington has not cashed in on the legacy the heritage of this amazing feat of engineering...what do visitors to England come to see ...usually some crap in London ..the London eye the shops big ben etc etc... the locomotion ..did you ever see a picture of Darlington locomotion on tv every night as a background to the news or any other program ..no ....would Walt Disney allow folks to forget there main attraction...chances are if you asked the average American who invented the steam locomotion passenger train they would name an American company.. if you asked many folks around the world that same question they would struggle to answer ... Darlington has the bragging rights till the end of time on the greatest of all achievements ..still in use all over the world being re invented in the same mould all over the world someone with advertising flair and a love of trains and Darlington with a high profile i politics or show biz should spearhead the campaign not the council they have absolutely no idea how to run a business they need to give the job to a expert in bringing such things to life and keeping it alive ..i have said all along ..people will come from all over the world TO DARLINGTON TO LOOK IN AWE AND WONDERMENT AT THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE WORLDS RAILWAYS. and they will spend money by the trainload......go on organise steam train trips from London to Darlington...to see the home of the railways birthplace of the industrial revolution ...expand the museum ...never fails to sicken me that York has a bigger museum ..put huge signs up people WILL COME re open the town centre market get rid of the ridiculously hamstringing parking restraints .. DO I NEED TO SAY MORE wayne norman retired award winning council worker MAGPIES12
  • Score: 10

2:57am Thu 4 Sep 14

SirLance says...

Nice sentiment Mr Norman but York for a multitude of reasons is a better value 'draw' for tourists! York is basically a much nicer town to visit! The place (museum?) in Darlington is in an obscure location! York has nice walkways, the river and city walls, many nice restaurants , decent city center pubs , multistory ( but expensive ) easy parking and of course (pun intended) the races! How can Darlington match those assets ?? York is more cosmopolitan than Darlington, it is also a University city and lastly the biggest commercial business center in the world derived it's name from York when it became 'New'.
Nice sentiment Mr Norman but York for a multitude of reasons is a better value 'draw' for tourists! York is basically a much nicer town to visit! The place (museum?) in Darlington is in an obscure location! York has nice walkways, the river and city walls, many nice restaurants , decent city center pubs , multistory ( but expensive ) easy parking and of course (pun intended) the races! How can Darlington match those assets ?? York is more cosmopolitan than Darlington, it is also a University city and lastly the biggest commercial business center in the world derived it's name from York when it became 'New'. SirLance
  • Score: 6

7:40am Thu 4 Sep 14

Jonn says...

I think it would help if the museum wasn't located in such a sh!t hole of an area. It's approach roads are unwelcoming and run down and the place is surrounded by flats housing druggies and dealers. That whole area needs to be regenerated if you want people to come, otherwise, forget it.
I think it would help if the museum wasn't located in such a sh!t hole of an area. It's approach roads are unwelcoming and run down and the place is surrounded by flats housing druggies and dealers. That whole area needs to be regenerated if you want people to come, otherwise, forget it. Jonn
  • Score: 11

8:38am Thu 4 Sep 14

toffee2 says...

MAGPIES12 wrote:
WELL I NEVER there's a bit of hope yet.. let me say for years i and a few others on line NO that's not a pun have been banging the internet drum as to why the greatest transport method in history developed here in Darlington has not cashed in on the legacy the heritage of this amazing feat of engineering...what do visitors to England come to see ...usually some crap in London ..the London eye the shops big ben etc etc... the locomotion ..did you ever see a picture of Darlington locomotion on tv every night as a background to the news or any other program ..no ....would Walt Disney allow folks to forget there main attraction...chances are if you asked the average American who invented the steam locomotion passenger train they would name an American company.. if you asked many folks around the world that same question they would struggle to answer ... Darlington has the bragging rights till the end of time on the greatest of all achievements ..still in use all over the world being re invented in the same mould all over the world someone with advertising flair and a love of trains and Darlington with a high profile i politics or show biz should spearhead the campaign not the council they have absolutely no idea how to run a business they need to give the job to a expert in bringing such things to life and keeping it alive ..i have said all along ..people will come from all over the world TO DARLINGTON TO LOOK IN AWE AND WONDERMENT AT THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE WORLDS RAILWAYS. and they will spend money by the trainload......go on organise steam train trips from London to Darlington...to see the home of the railways birthplace of the industrial revolution ...expand the museum ...never fails to sicken me that York has a bigger museum ..put huge signs up people WILL COME re open the town centre market get rid of the ridiculously hamstringing parking restraints .. DO I NEED TO SAY MORE wayne norman retired award winning council worker
Why not use the history of this landmark to Darlington's advantage and use North road station as a "park & ride" for the town.
[quote][p][bold]MAGPIES12[/bold] wrote: WELL I NEVER there's a bit of hope yet.. let me say for years i and a few others on line NO that's not a pun have been banging the internet drum as to why the greatest transport method in history developed here in Darlington has not cashed in on the legacy the heritage of this amazing feat of engineering...what do visitors to England come to see ...usually some crap in London ..the London eye the shops big ben etc etc... the locomotion ..did you ever see a picture of Darlington locomotion on tv every night as a background to the news or any other program ..no ....would Walt Disney allow folks to forget there main attraction...chances are if you asked the average American who invented the steam locomotion passenger train they would name an American company.. if you asked many folks around the world that same question they would struggle to answer ... Darlington has the bragging rights till the end of time on the greatest of all achievements ..still in use all over the world being re invented in the same mould all over the world someone with advertising flair and a love of trains and Darlington with a high profile i politics or show biz should spearhead the campaign not the council they have absolutely no idea how to run a business they need to give the job to a expert in bringing such things to life and keeping it alive ..i have said all along ..people will come from all over the world TO DARLINGTON TO LOOK IN AWE AND WONDERMENT AT THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE WORLDS RAILWAYS. and they will spend money by the trainload......go on organise steam train trips from London to Darlington...to see the home of the railways birthplace of the industrial revolution ...expand the museum ...never fails to sicken me that York has a bigger museum ..put huge signs up people WILL COME re open the town centre market get rid of the ridiculously hamstringing parking restraints .. DO I NEED TO SAY MORE wayne norman retired award winning council worker[/p][/quote]Why not use the history of this landmark to Darlington's advantage and use North road station as a "park & ride" for the town. toffee2
  • Score: 2

8:49am Thu 4 Sep 14

Homshaw1 says...

Jonn wrote:
I think it would help if the museum wasn't located in such a sh!t hole of an area. It's approach roads are unwelcoming and run down and the place is surrounded by flats housing druggies and dealers. That whole area needs to be regenerated if you want people to come, otherwise, forget it.
The promotion of Darlington as a tourist attraction based on its rail heritage needs a long term plan and a real commitment and belief in the idea. If we are spending £400k plus there is little to show for it.
We have councillors who say we shouldn't live in the past - who was this?- and. someone told me Darlington was offered and refused the museum that went to Shildon.
This should be a massive boost for Darlington like Shakespeare and Stratford. It should bring millions to the town. My starting point would not be local input it would be visiting successful tourist draws and seeing how they operate and then talk to local businesses and draw up a long term plan.
Beamish is not nearly as good as a basic idea as Darlington rail heritage but is far more successful. Asking locals is good but do the groundwork first.
[quote][p][bold]Jonn[/bold] wrote: I think it would help if the museum wasn't located in such a sh!t hole of an area. It's approach roads are unwelcoming and run down and the place is surrounded by flats housing druggies and dealers. That whole area needs to be regenerated if you want people to come, otherwise, forget it.[/p][/quote]The promotion of Darlington as a tourist attraction based on its rail heritage needs a long term plan and a real commitment and belief in the idea. If we are spending £400k plus there is little to show for it. We have councillors who say we shouldn't live in the past - who was this?- and. someone told me Darlington was offered and refused the museum that went to Shildon. This should be a massive boost for Darlington like Shakespeare and Stratford. It should bring millions to the town. My starting point would not be local input it would be visiting successful tourist draws and seeing how they operate and then talk to local businesses and draw up a long term plan. Beamish is not nearly as good as a basic idea as Darlington rail heritage but is far more successful. Asking locals is good but do the groundwork first. Homshaw1
  • Score: 4

8:52am Thu 4 Sep 14

mikyman says...

We took some friends who were visiting from Australia to the museum in August.
Despite being 'seniors', even with 'cheaper' tickets, we felt the admission price was very high and not worth it for the content of the museum.
It needs a total rethink,more exhibits,brighter displays and a more welcoming feel.
I doubt our 'elected ' representatives will have the foresight to fix it. After all look what they've done to the rest of the town!
Best to knock it down,forget history and build houses on it as they want to do everywhere else in the town.
We took some friends who were visiting from Australia to the museum in August. Despite being 'seniors', even with 'cheaper' tickets, we felt the admission price was very high and not worth it for the content of the museum. It needs a total rethink,more exhibits,brighter displays and a more welcoming feel. I doubt our 'elected ' representatives will have the foresight to fix it. After all look what they've done to the rest of the town! Best to knock it down,forget history and build houses on it as they want to do everywhere else in the town. mikyman
  • Score: 0

9:53am Thu 4 Sep 14

SirLance says...

Jonn wrote:
I think it would help if the museum wasn't located in such a sh!t hole of an area. It's approach roads are unwelcoming and run down and the place is surrounded by flats housing druggies and dealers. That whole area needs to be regenerated if you want people to come, otherwise, forget it.
Thanks Jonn, i really wanted to say that!! well put!!!
[quote][p][bold]Jonn[/bold] wrote: I think it would help if the museum wasn't located in such a sh!t hole of an area. It's approach roads are unwelcoming and run down and the place is surrounded by flats housing druggies and dealers. That whole area needs to be regenerated if you want people to come, otherwise, forget it.[/p][/quote]Thanks Jonn, i really wanted to say that!! well put!!! SirLance
  • Score: 4

9:56am Thu 4 Sep 14

SirLance says...

Jonn wrote:
I think it would help if the museum wasn't located in such a sh!t hole of an area. It's approach roads are unwelcoming and run down and the place is surrounded by flats housing druggies and dealers. That whole area needs to be regenerated if you want people to come, otherwise, forget it.
Thanks Jonn, i really wanted to say that!! well put!!!
[quote][p][bold]Jonn[/bold] wrote: I think it would help if the museum wasn't located in such a sh!t hole of an area. It's approach roads are unwelcoming and run down and the place is surrounded by flats housing druggies and dealers. That whole area needs to be regenerated if you want people to come, otherwise, forget it.[/p][/quote]Thanks Jonn, i really wanted to say that!! well put!!! SirLance
  • Score: 1

10:24am Thu 4 Sep 14

ianh says...

You only had to see the crowds at Shildon when Mallard and its sister locos visited to know that there is an appetite for such events.
Surely the starting point for any railway based attraction is seeing them in action?
I dont know the current situation but regular steam excursions etc are surely a must? Build from there.
Given the European money made available elsewhere, surely the regeneration of a "deprived" part of the the north east, based upon its railway heritage and its role the cornerstone of the industrial revolution, is not too big a step to make?

It seems very sad that DBC are not taking on board the suggestions of the local enthusiast groups, and i hope that is not because of petty party politics.......thoug
h i suspect it is.
Take the party out of local politics and work together for the benefit of the Borough as a whole? too much to ask? probably!
You only had to see the crowds at Shildon when Mallard and its sister locos visited to know that there is an appetite for such events. Surely the starting point for any railway based attraction is seeing them in action? I dont know the current situation but regular steam excursions etc are surely a must? Build from there. Given the European money made available elsewhere, surely the regeneration of a "deprived" part of the the north east, based upon its railway heritage and its role the cornerstone of the industrial revolution, is not too big a step to make? It seems very sad that DBC are not taking on board the suggestions of the local enthusiast groups, and i hope that is not because of petty party politics.......thoug h i suspect it is. Take the party out of local politics and work together for the benefit of the Borough as a whole? too much to ask? probably! ianh
  • Score: 3

11:46am Thu 4 Sep 14

darloboss says...

close it down it cost more to run than the market place bogs
close it down it cost more to run than the market place bogs darloboss
  • Score: 1

11:50am Thu 4 Sep 14

darloboss says...

close it this costs more to run than the market place toilets did and with fewer people using it than the market place toilets
close it this costs more to run than the market place toilets did and with fewer people using it than the market place toilets darloboss
  • Score: 3

1:16pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Alan Macnab says...

I agree with Ian H. I wrote to the Council at the end of June stating that I was prepared to serve on a group which would draw up a business model for the railway museum and site which would make it financially stable and sustainable and reduce the need for a Council subsidy to zero over a period of time. I also said that the museum must make a profit or break even and that it must be run as a business.

I also outlined the business models which existed for railway museums around the country which they could use as a basis for the business model for the museum.

I did not receive a reply from the Council
I agree with Ian H. I wrote to the Council at the end of June stating that I was prepared to serve on a group which would draw up a business model for the railway museum and site which would make it financially stable and sustainable and reduce the need for a Council subsidy to zero over a period of time. I also said that the museum must make a profit or break even and that it must be run as a business. I also outlined the business models which existed for railway museums around the country which they could use as a basis for the business model for the museum. I did not receive a reply from the Council Alan Macnab
  • Score: 1

2:13pm Thu 4 Sep 14

ianh says...

I suspected as much Alan. Perhaps a letter in the echo reiterating your comments may get a little more attention?
Any project like this will only succeed with the help and input of enthusiasts, prepared to go the extra mile to make things work. I am afraid that a couple of cllrs looking for good headlines will not be enough.
I suspected as much Alan. Perhaps a letter in the echo reiterating your comments may get a little more attention? Any project like this will only succeed with the help and input of enthusiasts, prepared to go the extra mile to make things work. I am afraid that a couple of cllrs looking for good headlines will not be enough. ianh
  • Score: 1

6:42pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Spy Boy says...

My idea would be to get a ruling committee that was actually interested in the railways, rather than the losers that are scuppering the rest of the town. I just don't trust any of them to come up with a decent solution that is not based on what they get out of it.
My idea would be to get a ruling committee that was actually interested in the railways, rather than the losers that are scuppering the rest of the town. I just don't trust any of them to come up with a decent solution that is not based on what they get out of it. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

7:33pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Alan Macnab says...

Ianh I have spoken to the Echo this afternoon. Soy Boy one of the proposals I made to the Council at the end of June was for a small group of people (three at most) who were interested in the railways and the museum and have experience of running a financially sound and sustainable community facility to draw up a business plan for the museum The business plan would aim for the railway museum to be self financing without the need for a Council subsidy in the long term.
Ianh I have spoken to the Echo this afternoon. Soy Boy one of the proposals I made to the Council at the end of June was for a small group of people (three at most) who were interested in the railways and the museum and have experience of running a financially sound and sustainable community facility to draw up a business plan for the museum The business plan would aim for the railway museum to be self financing without the need for a Council subsidy in the long term. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 1

5:33pm Tue 9 Sep 14

JJTOP2 says...

"Darlington has the bragging rights till the end of time on the greatest of all achievements ..still in use all over the world being re invented in the same mould all over the world"

Excuse me Magpie12 but the Cradle Of The Railways is Shildon where the National Locomotion Museum commemorates that fact.

Darlington just happened to be on the chosen route and has tried to grab some reflected glory ever since. Best idea close the HoS and move the exhibits to Shildon where they belong.
"Darlington has the bragging rights till the end of time on the greatest of all achievements ..still in use all over the world being re invented in the same mould all over the world" Excuse me Magpie12 but the Cradle Of The Railways is Shildon where the National Locomotion Museum commemorates that fact. Darlington just happened to be on the chosen route and has tried to grab some reflected glory ever since. Best idea close the HoS and move the exhibits to Shildon where they belong. JJTOP2
  • Score: -1
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