A multimillion pound project to turn the route of the world’s first public steam-operated railway into a major tourist attraction is set to be launched.
The Stockton and Darlington Railway is one of eight heritage sites across the country to be chosen for a high-profile Heritage England revival scheme.
Under the Heritage Action Zone scheme, historic bridges and buildings along the 26-mile route of the railway which opened in 1825, will be restored in time for its bicentenary in 2025.
Another site chosen for a similar project is the nearby market town of Bishop Auckland. Again, the aim here is to bring neglected buildings back into use to rejuvenate the town centre and to turn Auckland Castle into a faith, art and heritage destination.
The announcement was made by John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, who said: “Our heritage not only tells the story of our past. It creates great places to live, work and visit.
“The Heritage Action Zone scheme will make the most out of the Stockton and Darlington Railway project and Bishop Auckland’s historic environment to kick-start regeneration, increase tourism and boost investment.”
Carol Pyrah, planning director for Historic England in the North East, said: “The Stockton and Darlington Railway and Bishop Auckland both have much to be proud about – from links to the Prince Bishops to world-class railway heritage.
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