MULTI-million pound plans have been revealed to restore one of the world’s oldest engine sheds to become a base for the engineers responsible for the region’s railway revival.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust – the charity that built the 100mph steam locomotive Tornado from scratch – has revealed its ambitions to move its operations to a 156-year-old former Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR) shed.

The Darlington site, which has fallen into disrepair after not being used for half a century, has been earmarked to once again house live steam locomotives proudly built in the town that gave the world the gift of the railways.

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The charity has stated that fundraising efforts to renovate the shed on Whessoe Road, in Darlington, would also mean the base could be connected to the East Coast Mainline in time for the 200th anniversary of the S&DR opening.

Proposals also include creating a purpose-built three-road workshop, complete with overhead cranes and educational facilities, as well as offering regular open days and limited steam-hauled passenger rides to Bishop Auckland.

Graeme Bunker-James, trustee and operations director at the The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, said: “Our long-awaited new base will be somewhere that both Tornado and Prince of Wales can truly call home.

“We hope that we will be able to operate the world’s newest steam locomotives from the world’s oldest active main line engine shed – a true Top Shed of the north.

“The intention is to open the Whessoe Road site as an operational base for the Trust soon after we complete the construction of Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales, which is scheduled for 2021.

“And [it will open] in good time to play a central role in the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 2025.”

The shed was designed by William Peachey and built in 1861 as one of the S&DR’s last developments before the company was absorbed by the North Eastern Railway in 1863.

Despite being one of the world’s oldest surviving engine sheds, the building fell into disrepair and would require major roof repairs and other remedial works before it can store steam locos.

The Trust, which has been based in former S&DR carriage works on Hopetown Lane in Darlington for 20 years, has stated that positive talks about the proposed move have already been held with landowners Network Rail and Darlington Borough Council.

An A1 Trust spokesman added: “The site can be easily and relatively cheaply reconnected to the national network as there is already a fully signalled connection into a rarely used siding in the former yard at Whessoe Road.”