Hopetown Darlington to open as new heritage visitor attraction

23 April 2024
Due to open in summer 2024, and set across 7.5 acres of historic railway land in the heart of Darlington, the new visitor attraction celebrates and promotes Darlington’s 200-year railway heritage.

Nestled amongst early railway buildings, including the world’s oldest railway bridge still in continuous operation – the Grade I listed Skerne Bridge, built in 1824 – sits North Road Station Museum, formerly the Head of Steam - Darlington Railway Museum.

The Grade II listed building, constructed in 1842, contains a new permanent exhibition that tells the story of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, and Darlington’s influence on railways across the world. Visitors can marvel at the selection of historic locomotives on display, including Derwent, a Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns No.39, and the last Class 37 diesel locomotive built in Darlington.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, housed in Darlington Locomotive Works, which forms part of the Hopetown Darlington site, is currently building the UK’s newest and most powerful steam locomotive – the P2 class No.2007 Prince of Wales. Visitors to Hopetown Darlington can gaze at the progress from a new viewing gallery.

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The Grade II listed Carriage Works, built in 1853, contains The Stores where the remainder of Hopetown Darlington’s collection will be on display. The Stores allow visitors to get up close and personal with the objects and artefacts, some of which have never been seen in the public domain before. Items include signals, signalling equipment, railway artwork, model railway of all sizes and railway ephemera.

Hopetown Darlington holds both the Ken Hoole and John Mallon archive and photograph collections that showcase the railway history of the North East region. The archives will be available to view by appointment.

2025 sees the bicentenary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway of which Hopetown Darlington will play a major role in the year-long celebrations. More details about the festival will be revealed in September 2024.

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