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Head of Steam (W08)


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Futures Fund

This cut may not get implemented in full because there are proposals to include the service within the futures fund. Please visit the futures fund proposal to find out more. 


Head of Steam is the Council’s only museum and it is closely associated with the Stockton to Darlington Railway, which is a key part of Darlington’s historic past; the birthplace of modern passenger railway.  In recent years, the museum has consistently attracted in excess of 30,000 visitors per annum, achieving over 34,000 in 2014/15. 


The closure of the museum would have significant impact on the Council’s aspiration with regard to the Heritage Campus and placing the town on the world stage for 2025, the 200 year celebrations of the Stockton to Darlington Railway. 

If the Council were to close the Head of Steam then the potential opportunities for regeneration/remodelling of the overall site would be significantly impacted on as well as the Council’s ambitions for the Tees Valley 2025 Capital of Culture. 

Locomotion No 1 would return to the National Railway Museum at either York or Shildon.


The Council’s Core offer budget includes £50,000 for continued maintenance of the building as the Council has a 160 year lease on this Grade 2 listed building and therefore must maintain the property until the lease ends and an alternative use can be identified for the building 


W08 Head of Steam

Related FAQs

Why don’t you mothball Head of Steam and/or merge it with Locomotion at Shildon (which is free) and use the money to save Crown Street Library?

Why don’t you mothball Head of Steam and/or merge it with Locomotion at Shildon (which is free) and use the money to save Crown Street Library?

If you wish to put this forward as a suggestion it is something that could be considered. However, the Cabinet’s budget proposals reflect a desire to retain Loco No.1 and other key assets that are in the Head of Steam as they are a fundamental part of the town’s heritage. There is the opportunity to use that heritage to be a part of the town’s regeneration and visitor offer as we move toward the 200 years celebration of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 2025. The saving from closing the museum could be used to retain Crown Street, however further savings would also be required to keep Crown Street open as the cost of the Museum is less than would be required to keep Crown Street open.

Your Say

2 comment(s)

This table lists comments from the public about this proposal


Cut W08 (Head of Steam)

Close the head of steam and use the money for looking after vulnerable people

Cut W08 (Head of Steam)

I don't see why we should keep the Head of Steam open. There must be other ways in which we can preserve our rail heritage without the need to maintain a costly museum, which unfortunately struggles to compete with the likes of Locomotion and the National Railway museum in York. I understand the need to charge for entry, but sadly this is a barrier that puts a lot of people off from visiting. It is a great venue to hold outdoor events, and it would be great to see that continue. It would be great if the museum could attract some national funding to cover the costs as opposed to it being supported through local taxes, but I don't imagine that this is possible. The savings made from the museum should be put back into other leisure options such as improving and maintaining parks and play areas which are used by far more people.