02 June 2023
New home to A1 STeam Locomotive Trust promises a step change in engineering space to enable locomotive construction and maintenance.
The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, the charity who built and operate new steam locomotive 60163 Tornado and are now nearing completion of a brand new P2 Class locomotive, have vacated the Carriage Works on Hopetown Lane, Darlington. They leave their home of more than 25 years, to move across the tracks to a new, purpose-built facility on Bonomi Way. The P2 Class locomotive, No.2007 Prince of Wales, a new build project started in 2013, moved on Thursday 25th May by road to the all-new Darlington Locomotive Works. This is an exciting prospect as it is here that the locomotive will be completed, and in due course steam for the first time.
Colonel Steve Davies, MBE, Charman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust commented: “The move of the Trust into our new Works, a mere stone's throw from the old Hopetown Works, represents a seminal moment in our history and marks the dawn of a new age both for ourselves and the charitable railway heritage sector more broadly.
"Although we are sad to be leaving the former Stockton & Darlington Railway Carriage Works, there is no doubt that the limited facilities and cramped nature of the site was restricting our ability to deliver our future plans, which are ambitious in scope and range. Our new home provides us with the infrastructure we need, in partnership with Darlington Borough Council, to a quality and scale rarely – if ever – to be found elsewhere in the railway heritage sector.
"We move from a facility where we simply build locomotives to one which can also offer locomotive servicing and stabling facilities by virtue of our new mainline connection – a huge benefit for charter operators with destinations in the North East. The Works also provides our people – employed and volunteers – with unrivalled amenities, and we hope that the sheer quality of the site will encourage additional volunteer support.
"We therefore offer Darlington Borough Council our considerable thanks and gratitude for the provision of the new Darlington Locomotive Works and look forward to playing a central role in the forthcoming Stockton & Darlington Railway Bicentenary celebrations as a key component of the Darlington Rail Heritage Quarter concept.”
The new Darlington Locomotive Works is part of the Darlington Railway Heritage Quarter (DRHQ). Owned by Darlington Borough Council and funded by the Council, as well as TVCA and Central Government grants, the £4.5m building provides the Trust with a larger workshop space for building and maintaining locomotives. The building also offers superior energy efficiency, meaning that the larger facility is no more expensive to run than the previous space, possibly creating a saving over time.
There is also a significant increase in office space, dedicated electrical engineering spaces recognising the new digital age on the national rail network and, for the first time, dedicated meeting and training facilities. The step change in engineering space will enable not only locomotive construction, but maintenance alongside. The new shed can accommodate up to four large ‘Pacific’ or ‘Mikado’ locomotives, with facilities like inspection pits and a high-pressure water supply for servicing steam locomotives, as well as superior space for machine shops, spares holding and other essential materials.
The Trust is planning to establish a main line railway connection in 2024, allowing locomotives to move by rail to and from the new Works, a game changing development. The core building is an impressive step forward and over time further enhancements are promised, when funds permit. The Trust will also have use of covered space in an historic engine shed on the site, providing further operational and storage capacity.
In the next few months, the building will be connected to the wider DRHQ by a new bridge bringing the work of the Trust to an even larger audience, ahead of the reopening of the site to the public in 2024 and the grand celebrations of the 200th Anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway opening in 1825.