The new Gresley class P2 No. 2007 is being built at The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust’s Darlington Locomotive Works. The Works are open to the public on the first and third Saturday of each month, the latter a day that coincides with NELPG also opening their doors to visitors. NOTE, DUE TO THE CURRENT SITUATION, THE WORKS IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
No. 2007 under construction at Darlington Locomotive Works – Mandy Grant
On 10th March 1995 The A1 Steam Trust signed an agreement with Darlington Borough Council, the owner of the 1853-built former Stockton and Darlington Railway Carriage Works, to set up its permanent base in what was to become the new Darlington Locomotive Works.
The end of the building that The A1 Trust would occupy in 1997 – A1SLT
In a brief ceremony in front of Locomotion No .1, the world’s first public railway locomotive, now preserved in Darlington Railway Museum, Mayor of Darlington John Williams presented the key to the new works to Dorothy Mather, widow of the ‘A1’s’ designer. It was fitting that Arthur Peppercorn’s widow should accept the key on the Trust’s behalf, as he spent the happiest years of his distinguished career in Darlington.
The agreement with Darlington Borough Council meant that the next Peppercorn ‘A1’ would be built in the world’s first true railway town. Some 23 of the originals were built here in 1948/1949 and many were scrapped on this site in the early 1960s. The original Darlington Works closed in 1966.
On 27th September 1997 the Trust opened its the new ‘Darlington Locomotive Works’. Phase one of the restoration and conversion of the building was paid for by grants from Darlington Borough Council (£50,000), the National Heritage Memorial Fund (£100,000) and the European Regional Development Fund (£150,000).
Sadly funding for phases 2 and 3 of the restoration of the building was never forthcoming and so the Trust now occupies only the restored southern end of the building. The North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG) now occupies the northern end.
By 1997 work was well advanced converting the old building for its new role – A1SLT
In 1999, further heavy machinery was acquired and moved in – A1SLT
Doncaster? No, Darlington? Yes! Tornado nears completion in 2008 – A1SLT
Tornado in light steam awaiting the launch day – A1SLT
During 2013 the interior of the building was extensively refurbished to make it ready for the arrival of No. 2007’s frames.
Walls are re-plastered and the floor re-painted during 2013 – A1SLT
With help from Darlington Borough Council, the exterior was also refurbished – Tony Lord
DARLINGTON LOCOMOTIVE WORKS 2
As the ambitions of the Trust have developed it became clear that we would eventually out-grow the Hopetown Lane building and have a requirement for not only a locomotive works but a rail-connected running shed, a turntable and much better public access. Discussions with Darlington Borough Council and Network Rail started to focus on an area of land the other side of the Bishop Auckland line, close to North Road station, the site of the still extant 1861 Stockton & Darlington Railway Whessoe Road locomotive shed. This germ of an idea has metamorphosed into a much larger scheme, The Railway Heritage Quarter, designed to be complete in time for the S&D 200th Anniversary celebrations in 2025. The new scheme envisages a bespoke building for the Trust with the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG) and the Darlington Railway Preservation Society (DRPS) hosed in the four road 1861 shed.
The Trust is very excited to be working closely with Darlington Borough Council on the development of the Railway Heritage Quarter (RHQ) to support the celebrations for the 200th Anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. With over £20m committed to the project so far this world class visitor attraction is making real progress.
Entry to the RHQ would be through the existing Goods Shed which will receive a comprehensive overhaul and conversion and will provide a focal point from North Road, looking towards Skerne Bridge, the world’s oldest railway bridge still in use.
The entrance in the restored goods shed – A1SLT/DBC
As previously reported the world class RHQ will incorporate a new Works for the Trust and give the P2, the A1 and the V4 a rail-connected base in their hometown of Darlington.
As shown on the early images below, ‘Darlington Locomotive Works 2’ is planned for the Bonomi Way side of the Bishop Auckland line and will link to the main site by a footbridge crossing the branch.
The draft track layout below demonstrates the extent of the site, which would be over half a mile end to end. Current proposals would locate our heritage partners NELPG and DRPS into the 1861 Peachey shed on Whessoe Road, each organisation finally being able to bring locomotives back home via the national rail network.
The images below show how visitors might access the Works via the overbridge whereupon they would arrive onto a high-level viewing gallery looking down onto the Trust’s engineering activities. We would reemphasise that the design is still under development, but the building would provide up to four new build bays and two running shed bays along with stores, workshops and admin facilities. By the time of opening the V4 would be in full swing and the P2, the A1 and their respective support coaches would have their heavy overhauls here. A range of machining, construction, painting as well as general overhauls could be periodically experienced according to the programme of works.
The image below shows an artist’s impression of the new build bays and viewing gallery. The need to lift locomotives and coaches makes this the highest part of the building and the gallery is likely to be over six metres above the workshop floors.
Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted a turntable on the plans. This is a longer-term aspiration to provide real flexibility for the RHQ site as a whole. As well as being key for Trust activities, it gives the opportunity to arrive at this world class attraction by steam and for visiting locomotives to be serviced and turned for their return journey.
We have a long way to go but everyone is behind this magnificent project which will provide a core to the whole 2025 celebrations. More importantly it creates an ongoing world-class facility of which the Trust, the Town and the UK can be justifiably proud.