BADLY-NEEDED repair work will get under way later this month at a tourist attraction.

Up to £50,000 is to be spent securing the roof at Darlington Railway Centre and Museum, which is at the centre of multi-million pound redevelopment plans.

A substantial application for funding is shortly to be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £2.5m to enhance facilities and draw in more visitors.

However, as part of the survey work needed to prepare the bid, structural engineers discovered problems with the building that needed immediate attention.

The museum's roof had been leaking for some time, but workers also found that one of the main beams had recently moved and that the ends of beams had rotted.

Darlington Borough Council announced yesterday that work would be carried out to shore up the roof, part of which is over a live railway line.

In a report to councillors, development director John Buxton said: "It is necessary to undertake urgent temporary support to the roof trusses using hired props.

"These props will take the weight of the roof and eliminate the risk of further movement of the beams."

The bulk of the work, some of which will be done on the old North Road platform, will be carried out during the half-term holidays.

A council spokesman said there would be no impact on the normal running of the museum.

Mr Buxton said: "It is necessary for Network Rail to approve the works that need to take place adjacent to the railway line and they will also supervise those works that are on the old platform."

The council has a lease on the building, including the part which goes over the live Bishop Auckland railway line.

The lease began in 1975 and is for a 200-year term. Under the terms, the authority can only use the building for a museum and is also responsible for all repairs.

Museum bosses are presently awaiting the submission of the Lottery funding bid. Consultancy Continuum, of York, is helping to shape the future of the site and have asked local people for their input.