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By Sarah Price on

How Locomotion’s New Hall will celebrate the town that changed the world

Sarah Price shares some good news about the new building soon to appear at Locomotion.

The welcome news that Locomotion was granted planning permission for New Hall means that we can press ahead with the exciting transformation of our site. Housing more than 50 vehicles from the national collection, the new building will mean that Locomotion becomes home to the largest undercover collection of heritage rail vehicles in the world, a wonderful accolade for Shildon and County Durham—places so intimately connected to the origins of the global railway story.

The new building

New Hall draws on the aesthetic of engine sheds, linking it to Shildon’s history as the world’s first railway town, and at one time the world’s largest carriage works. Simple and elegant in design and occupying a footprint of 2100m2, the building has three pairs of tracks allowing visitors to easily walk between these giants and learn about their history and significance.  

It has been designed to help us meet our goal of being net carbon zero by 2033. The building draws on passive environmental design principles. It will incorporate high levels of insulation to reduce the demand for heating and cooling, with limited to glazing to reduce solar gain.  

New Hall will also be set in a landscape that encourages biodiversity. Existing trees will be retained wherever possible, and the boundary fencing will be softened with hedgerow planting to provide a range of habitats. We will also extend our existing planting schemes to develop areas that replicate what is found next to many railway sites across the country.  

New stories

The opportunity to see more icons of the railway age will, of course, be a draw, but New Hall will also allow us to tell richer stories of the rail industry from its earliest days in Shildon to the present, revealing how Shildon changed the world. We want to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists and this story is inspirational.

The focus of New Hall will be the relationship of the railways with industry, from their connection to early coal production to showcasing wagons produced in Shildon and the importance of freight. This will be complemented by the redisplay of vehicles in the existing Main Hall to highlight rail innovation over the last 200 years, beginning with pioneering Locomotion No 1 and exploring how locomotives of the future could be powered. 

New ways of working

New Hall will also act as an impetus to enhance activities already taking place on site. Shortly after New Hall opens in early Autumn 2023, Locomotion will host the national centenary commemorations of Flying Scotsman and it goes without saying that the museum will be a major hub in the celebrations planned for the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 2025. 

Locomotion has always exceeded expectations, but New Hall and our wider plans mean that it will become a must-see stop for visitors to the area and a world-class national museum for our community. 

To find out more about our plans and programme, please visit the Locomotion website.

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