The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust have announced plans for a new multi-million-pound main
line-connected base in Darlington, ending months of talks and speculation.
The trust aims to move into the four-track Whessoe Road engine shed, which was built in 1861 by the Stockton & Darlington Railway, and which in 1825 became the world’s first public steam railway.
It was designed by William Peachey, and was one of the S&DR’s last developments before the company was absorbed by the North Eastern Railway in 1863.
The shed went on to serve as a wagon repair and paint shop, before falling into disuse in the late 20th century.
It is thought to be one of the oldest surviving engine sheds in the world, and will require major roof repairs and other remedial works before it can again house ‘live’ steam locomotives – including the 101mph Peppercorn A1 Pacific No. 60163 Tornado and the under-construction Gresley P2 2-8-2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales.
If the trust’s fundraising attempts prove successful, the new site will be operational in time to play a central role in the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 2025.
The trust also plans to construct a purpose-built three-road workshop, complete with overhead cranes and educational facilities, where it can maintain and overhaul its locomotive and carriage fleet, as well as build mode new locomotives, such as its planned third new steam locomotive, Gresley V4 2-6-2 No. 3403.
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