PLANS to turn a derelict gun barrel shed into a tourist attraction where visitors can see locomotives being lovingly restored have moved a step forward.

The Weardale Railway has taken the first steps towards transforming the former shed at its depot in Wolsingham, County Durham, into a workshop.

The Grade II-listed shed was built in 1864 by the Wolsingham Iron Works and was part of the original steelworks in the village.

The idea is to turn the building, which is currently used for storage and is in a poor state of repair, into a large workshop with viewing platforms where visitors can watch the engines and carriages being worked on.

German engineer Axel Huttinger visited the huge shed this week to assess the feasibility of the scheme but railway marketing manager Andrea Davidson said any development would be a long time coming.

She said: “This is a building of huge historical significance and we want to celebrate that instead of letting it deteriorate further.”

Mr Huttinger said: “This is an impressive building with massive potential.

“Its location and the history associated with it and the area makes it a captivating project.

“There are a number of buildings like this in the UK which offer so much potential.

It is the cost of development which is the biggest obstacle at this stage.”

Phil Ball, from Leisure Consultancy Ltd, worked on Locomotion, the National Railway Museum in Shildon and has been enlisted to help with the gun shed project.

He said: “I remember standing on the rail bridge at Shildon and looking at this vast wasteland and thinking will this work?

“Then we created the Locomotion and that just shows that with the right energy and enthusiasm, anything is possible.”

The shed was home to machines that made gun barrels for Royal Navy ships before and during the First World War.

It was then extended and during the Second World War workers also made shells and casings.

They were then transported by rail to Newton Aycliffe where the Aycliffe Angels munitions workers filled them with explosives.