RAILWAY heritage enthusiasts have voiced frustration over continuing uncertainty hanging over the future of their group as a deadline looms for them to move out of their crumbling historic home.

Members of Darlington Railway Preservation Society (DRPS) said they were “absolutely devastated” at facing having to leave the oldest surviving railway building still in railway use in the world where they have repaired locomotives since the 1980s without knowing where they will be based in three years’ time.

Darlington Borough Council gave DRPS until the end of March to quit the grade II listed Stockton and Darlington Railway Goods Shed off North Road as the building needs urgent repairs and the authority wants to transform it into a cafe ahead of bi-centenary celebrations for the world’s first passenger railway.

With major issues with the building, such as its tower being propped up by one of the society’s locomotives, there are concerns over the time it will take to complete both the move and building work in time for the 200th anniversary event in 2025.

DRPS issued an appeal to the authority in January for more time and help to find a base, which has led to a series of meetings, but the society’s members said they remained unclear as to if and when they would be able to return to the area where the council intends to pour millions of pounds into creating a world class tourist attraction.

It is understood the council has offered to move DRPS into a premises on Allington Way, in east Darlington, at a cost to taxpayers of £60,000 rent a year, plus rates, in addition to paying £100,000 to cover the costs of the complex move.

Councillor Heather Scott, the authority’s leader, said: “As far as I understand it, we have reached an agreement with DRPS over how it’s going to be dealt with, and it’s going to happen fairly soon.”

However, the council has been unable to supply details of what the agreement is and founder member of DRPS Barrie Lamb said some members were extremely concerned.

Mr Lamb, a former mayor of Darlington, said: “We are absolutely devastated. We have asked to have in writing what is happening, where we are going and when we are coming back. They still cannot confirm where we will be after three years.”