A TRADITIONAL workshop to preserve transport heritage and engineering skills has opened at the one of the region’s most popular visitor attractions.

The new Northern General Transport Bus Depot has opened its doors at Beamish Museum, near Chester-le-Street.

It is home to the museum’s growing fleet of buses and allows visitors to watch engineering work on historic vehicles.

Learning activities in science, technology, engineering and maths will take place at the bus depot and apprenticeships will ensure that heritage engineering skills are passed on.

Paul Jarman, assistant director, design, transport and industry, said: “With the incredible growth in visitor numbers over the past decade we have been expanding our fleet of period vehicles to meet rising demand.

“The new bus depot and associated workshop has been created to support this growth and we’re now lucky to have one of the best facilities in any museum in the UK for maintaining our fleet.”

The depot has been supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Go North East and The Reece Foundation, along with local, regional and national trusts and foundations, the Friends of Beamish and the Business Friends of Beamish.

The Northern General Transport Company’s first buses began running in 1913 and the name has been preserved in the new depot. The company later became Go-Ahead Northern and then Go North-East. Around 175,000 journeys are made on Go North-East buses every day around the region.

The depot is part of the Remaking Beamish project, which includes a 1950s Town, with the newly-opened welfare hall, as well as plans for houses, shops, a cinema, cafe and bowling green.

Martijn Gilbert, from Go North-East, said: “We’re delighted to see the opening of the Northern General Transport Bus Depot at Beamish Museum.

“As a long-standing partner, it’s great to have been involved in this exciting project and to see everyone’s hard work come to fruition.

“Having operated buses in the North-East for over 100 years, starting out way back in 1913, connecting communities and being a major employer particularly in areas close to Beamish, it’s fitting that we’re supporting the museum with their new bus depot, which also forms an important part of keeping our history alive.”