Get on board - Heritage Campus

Darlington Heritage Campus Logo

We're working on a vision to create a visitor experience based on Darlington's railway history, building on Darlington's unique legacy as the birthplace of the passenger railway.

We need to make sure the town is on the map at a local, national and global level - not only pulling in visitors but also offering training and educational opportunities, boosting the local economy and ensuring it is a place that local residents can be proud of.

2025 will see the 200th anniversary of the world’s first steam locomotive hauled passenger railway (the Stockton and Darlington Railway), and we need to ensure that the town is ready to celebrate this milestone and capture hearts and audiences across the world.

Help us make the most of Darlington's rich railway heritage and ensure that the town is recognised as the birthplace of the passenger railway.

Get involved and share our vision - Follow us on Twitter [external link] and like us on Facebook [external link] to find out more about the project.

Get on board and have your say!

Let us know what you would like to see in this vision. Your ideas will help us to take the next steps to put Darlington firmly on the national and international rail heritage map.

If you give us feedback, you will automatically enter a free prize draw to win a share of £200 of vouchers!

  • 'follow' us on Twitter [external link] and 'like' us on Facebook [external link]
  • email and let us know your views
  • Fill in our online survey [external link]
  • fill in Get on Board form [pdf document] and tell us what you think - there is also a paper version of the leaflet, with post boxes available at the Town Hall customer service centre, Dolphin Centre, Crown Street and Cockerton Library and the Head of Steam Museum

What do you want this Heritage Campus to include? Ideas so far:

  • workshops
  • technology showcases
  • cycle hire and walking trails
  • events and festivals
  • shops
  • cafes and restaurants
  • themed play areas
  • links with other rail sites

Did you know?

  • The locomotive, Stephenson's 'Locomotion No1' was the steam locomotive to haul the first passengers on a public railway. It still exists and is displayed at Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum (on loan from the National Railway Museum)
  • Darlington hosts the oldest working railway bridge in the world - the 1825 Skerne Bridge. For most of the 1990s it featured on the back of the £5 note
  • Edward Pease (1767-1858) was a woollen manufacturer from Darlington and was the main promoter of the Darlington and Stockton Railway. He is often referred to as the 'Father of the Railways' and he brokered the deal with George Stephenson on the first ever passenger railway in the world

Heritage Campus -  frequently asked questions

What and where is the Heritage Campus?

The Heritage Campus is an overarching concept that seeks to link and make the most of Darlington’s Railway and Industrial Heritage in the North Road area of Darlington and beyond extending to the former Stockton and Darlington Railway Track bed and associated assets which will be identified through the engagement process.

Why do we need a vision?

  • Guide development in the area, allowing the most appropriate response to enquiries and opportunities, including the best use of the assets
  • Form the basis of a revised business model and governance for the Head of Steam Museum site
  • Identify the necessary actions to facilitate the upcoming 2025 celebrations including the required infrastructure and legacy arrangements
  • Provide a suite of actions that will stimulate further engagement and participation, economic activity, increased visitor spend and community involvement
  • Identify funding streams and grants
  • Draw on national and international best practice
  • Articulate the key messages and vision that has been developed with partners, stakeholders and the public to reinforce the message, stimulate investment and promote joint working
  • Develop and deepen the relationship with key stakeholders such as the NRM, neighbouring authorities and national heritage rail organisations

No decisions have been made yet - we want to hear people's ideas.

Who is developing the vision?

Darlington Borough Council is developing the vision in partnership with key stakeholders including local businesses, community and voluntary groups, local residents and schools and colleges.

Why are we doing this?

  • The need to make the most of the heritage assets and story of passenger railways in Darlington
  • Protection of the existing assets and records for the benefit of future generations
  • Promotion and marketing of the heritage offer of the town nationally and internationally
  • Engagement with schools and colleges to develop the next generation of visitors and custodians
  • The need to make the most of railway heritage as a catalyst for economic growth and to boost the visitor economy and spend in the town
  • The development of the necessary infrastructure and legacy to support the upcoming celebrations in 2025 of the birth of passenger railways
  • Development of a sustainable business model to secure the future of the Head of Steam Railway Museum site and associated assets in the wider area

What will we do with the feedback we get?

All views will be collated, analysed and the conclusions will be fed back as part of the consultation process later in 2014. We are happy to keep you in the loop with the process and let you know how the engagement process is going. 

What would World Heritage Site status bring to Darlington?

  • Increased protection and recognition for the sites and assets
  • The care of the assets would fall to national government in partnership with the Council and stakeholders
  • The need to consider World Heritage Sites as a material consideration in planning applications
  • The need to secure a sustainable future for the assets
  • The creation of a management plan that would be drawn up in line with best international practice and in partnership with The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) members
  • An increased ability to gain funding either from UNESCO directly or from other sources such as the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

What are the next steps?

  • Engagement phase: September and October 2014
  • Vision and action plan development: September to December 2014
  • Formal consultation: January to March 2015
  • Consideration by Cabinet: Summer 2015

How much is this costing and who is paying?

We don't know how much this will cost yet - it will depend on what is decided in the vision and action plan.

We will be investigating a range of funding schemes, including sponsorship, grant aid and private investment.

On site stakeholder re-configuration

Along with other groups on site, we acknowledge that there is still uncertainty on the future of the area and will work closely with all of these groups to ensure that their views are kept and are fully informed of any developments or proposals. At yet, there are no plans to alter the current site configuration, tenancies and use of buildings.