Plans to save Head of Steam Museum in Darlington approved

Plans to save Head of Steam Museum in Darlington approved

BRIGHT FUTURE: The Head of Steam Museum in Darlington

Locomotion No 1 in the Head of Steam museum

First published in News
Last updated
by , Reporter (Darlington)

A PLAN to safeguard a landmark North-East museum has tonight (July 1) been approved by councillors.

The future of The Head of Steam - Darlington Railway Museum was thrown into doubt after the council said it could no longer afford to subsidise it to the tune of £265,000 per year after April 2016.

However, Darlington Borough Council's cabinet have now supported plans to continue the subsidy and seek World Heritage Status for the North Road site.

Councillors agreed that it should be a focal point for the 2025 celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, being on the route of the world’s first passenger line.

Recommending the plans for approval, Nick Wallis, portfolio holder for leisure and local environment, said: “Looking ahead as long as we can do, the local authority will continue to subsidise the Head of Steam.

“This process has helped us understand just how passionate people feel about the Head of Steam and people have come forward with ideas.

“Consultation on a new vision for the Head of Steam will take place so that it can not only continue to exist, but have an exciting and different future.”

Cllr Wallis said it was important that by the time of the anniversary celebrations - likely to attract international interest - Darlington had a vibrant railway museum to mark the occasion and attract tourists.

Cllr Alan Macnab, a member of the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway group, said he was “delighted” at the decision to continue the subsidy.

However, he suggested they work with other groups to apply for World Heritage Status for the whole section of the original line so that the wider Teesside and County Durham region benefitted.

He said: “It could very well put Darlington and the region on the tourist map.”

Conservative group leader Cllr Heather Scott also welcomed the proposals and suggested that members work with the National Railway Museum in York to swap locomotives to improve the Head of Steam’s offering.

Cabinet members approved the release of £10,000 to fund a public engagement and consultation process around the plans, but Council leader Bill Dixon offered a warning.

He said: “At the risk of spoiling everybody’s love-in, let’s not forget that we still have to find the money; we face an extremely challenging budget.

“We will try and find a way of finding it, but it is going to have to come out of the budget elsewhere.

“There is no fairy godmother or godfather; someone else is going to feel it.”

Comments (10)

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8:10pm Tue 1 Jul 14

LUSTARD says...

no pain no gain. if i had the lolly you would be getting a large car park on the waste lands behind, and being steam trained into town casey jones style
no pain no gain. if i had the lolly you would be getting a large car park on the waste lands behind, and being steam trained into town casey jones style LUSTARD
  • Score: 3

1:26am Wed 2 Jul 14

Spy Boy says...

Where do they get these figures? Is someone in the council getting rich for heading this up ?
Where do they get these figures? Is someone in the council getting rich for heading this up ? Spy Boy
  • Score: -2

7:51am Wed 2 Jul 14

Homshaw1 says...

265k does seem a lot of money
265k does seem a lot of money Homshaw1
  • Score: 2

8:07am Wed 2 Jul 14

oliviaden6 says...

There is plenty of money in the council coffers. One just needs to cut the wage bill of the senior council offers and get rid of the overpaid leaders, there would be enough then and more besides.
Its an old story but Bill and his Buddies are milking the system, what do we get more waste more cuts and even more stories coming from the council scare mongering it goes on and on.
There is plenty of money in the council coffers. One just needs to cut the wage bill of the senior council offers and get rid of the overpaid leaders, there would be enough then and more besides. Its an old story but Bill and his Buddies are milking the system, what do we get more waste more cuts and even more stories coming from the council scare mongering it goes on and on. oliviaden6
  • Score: 8

8:58am Wed 2 Jul 14

stevegg says...

In a perfect world with the council coffers flush this would be good news, but they arent, they are winding down many services or cutting them altogether, in todays climate its a luxury us taxpayers cannot afford to sustain. Time to make the cut that will ineviatably happen in future years and close it moving all the assetts to the national museum at shildon. The writings on the wall for the museum like it or not.
In a perfect world with the council coffers flush this would be good news, but they arent, they are winding down many services or cutting them altogether, in todays climate its a luxury us taxpayers cannot afford to sustain. Time to make the cut that will ineviatably happen in future years and close it moving all the assetts to the national museum at shildon. The writings on the wall for the museum like it or not. stevegg
  • Score: 0

9:59am Wed 2 Jul 14

Alan Macnab says...

I welcomed the news that the Council's subsidy for the museum was continuing, but I urged DBC's Cabinet last night to form a group to include trustees of the museum to draw up a business model for the railway museum and site which will make it financially stable and sustainable and reduces the need for a Council subsidy to zero over a period of time. By financially stable and sustainable I mean the museum and site must make a profit or at least income must match its expenditure. A number of business models have to be explored.

There are steam railway museums round the country which are financially sustainable by holding holding year round programme of events based on the railways theme (steam and diesel) and nostalgia events which will attract large numbers of steam enthusiasts of all ages and those who want a first class day out - Days out with Thomas, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Christmas events, school holidays etc. Holding popular events in the museum such as beer festivals, and events which have a local theme. Steam driver training courses. Hiring out the museum for parties and other celebrations. Linking up with the local railway companies to run steam excursions up into Weardale for example to provide a wider package.

There is also a need to have a programme to refresh the exhibits. Perhaps a link with the NRM at Shildon and York can be formed to rotate exhibits between the three museums?

There is a steam railway museum in East Anglia which has an annual income of £350,000. from the things I have described above. It can be done in Darlington if there is a will to do so.
I welcomed the news that the Council's subsidy for the museum was continuing, but I urged DBC's Cabinet last night to form a group to include trustees of the museum to draw up a business model for the railway museum and site which will make it financially stable and sustainable and reduces the need for a Council subsidy to zero over a period of time. By financially stable and sustainable I mean the museum and site must make a profit or at least income must match its expenditure. A number of business models have to be explored. There are steam railway museums round the country which are financially sustainable by holding holding year round programme of events based on the railways theme (steam and diesel) and nostalgia events which will attract large numbers of steam enthusiasts of all ages and those who want a first class day out - Days out with Thomas, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Christmas events, school holidays etc. Holding popular events in the museum such as beer festivals, and events which have a local theme. Steam driver training courses. Hiring out the museum for parties and other celebrations. Linking up with the local railway companies to run steam excursions up into Weardale for example to provide a wider package. There is also a need to have a programme to refresh the exhibits. Perhaps a link with the NRM at Shildon and York can be formed to rotate exhibits between the three museums? There is a steam railway museum in East Anglia which has an annual income of £350,000. from the things I have described above. It can be done in Darlington if there is a will to do so. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 9

12:23pm Wed 2 Jul 14

LUSTARD says...

Alan Macnab wrote:
I welcomed the news that the Council's subsidy for the museum was continuing, but I urged DBC's Cabinet last night to form a group to include trustees of the museum to draw up a business model for the railway museum and site which will make it financially stable and sustainable and reduces the need for a Council subsidy to zero over a period of time. By financially stable and sustainable I mean the museum and site must make a profit or at least income must match its expenditure. A number of business models have to be explored.

There are steam railway museums round the country which are financially sustainable by holding holding year round programme of events based on the railways theme (steam and diesel) and nostalgia events which will attract large numbers of steam enthusiasts of all ages and those who want a first class day out - Days out with Thomas, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Christmas events, school holidays etc. Holding popular events in the museum such as beer festivals, and events which have a local theme. Steam driver training courses. Hiring out the museum for parties and other celebrations. Linking up with the local railway companies to run steam excursions up into Weardale for example to provide a wider package.

There is also a need to have a programme to refresh the exhibits. Perhaps a link with the NRM at Shildon and York can be formed to rotate exhibits between the three museums?

There is a steam railway museum in East Anglia which has an annual income of £350,000. from the things I have described above. It can be done in Darlington if there is a will to do so.
the main thing is people like to ride out on them, look at pickering, we can go in all directions from darlington, weardale leaming, leyburn, saltburn, marvelous family days out, and thats what a tourist would want too
[quote][p][bold]Alan Macnab[/bold] wrote: I welcomed the news that the Council's subsidy for the museum was continuing, but I urged DBC's Cabinet last night to form a group to include trustees of the museum to draw up a business model for the railway museum and site which will make it financially stable and sustainable and reduces the need for a Council subsidy to zero over a period of time. By financially stable and sustainable I mean the museum and site must make a profit or at least income must match its expenditure. A number of business models have to be explored. There are steam railway museums round the country which are financially sustainable by holding holding year round programme of events based on the railways theme (steam and diesel) and nostalgia events which will attract large numbers of steam enthusiasts of all ages and those who want a first class day out - Days out with Thomas, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Christmas events, school holidays etc. Holding popular events in the museum such as beer festivals, and events which have a local theme. Steam driver training courses. Hiring out the museum for parties and other celebrations. Linking up with the local railway companies to run steam excursions up into Weardale for example to provide a wider package. There is also a need to have a programme to refresh the exhibits. Perhaps a link with the NRM at Shildon and York can be formed to rotate exhibits between the three museums? There is a steam railway museum in East Anglia which has an annual income of £350,000. from the things I have described above. It can be done in Darlington if there is a will to do so.[/p][/quote]the main thing is people like to ride out on them, look at pickering, we can go in all directions from darlington, weardale leaming, leyburn, saltburn, marvelous family days out, and thats what a tourist would want too LUSTARD
  • Score: 1

3:48pm Wed 2 Jul 14

RealLivin says...

Without the original line available I fear that the museum is in its final throws, it isnt big enough to attract the number of visitors required to sustain it and even it it could where would they park as its out of town vistitors needed. I like Lustard's idea of a big car park with a train ride in, but it needs more, the original line to Stockton or at least out to join the modern day line would have been a big crowd puller but as usual lack of foresight, vision and accusations of living in the past have more or less killed of any hope of Darlington making any money of of its heritage. Bill is right this time we dont have the money to support this, but had this council and previous councils protected the towns heritage we would have droves of visitors spending money, drawing large retailers so they can spend even more money in the town and we would not them have the problems we have now. Grants and funding would be available but who would give them if the local authority are not making any efforts to preserve it
Without the original line available I fear that the museum is in its final throws, it isnt big enough to attract the number of visitors required to sustain it and even it it could where would they park as its out of town vistitors needed. I like Lustard's idea of a big car park with a train ride in, but it needs more, the original line to Stockton or at least out to join the modern day line would have been a big crowd puller but as usual lack of foresight, vision and accusations of living in the past have more or less killed of any hope of Darlington making any money of of its heritage. Bill is right this time we dont have the money to support this, but had this council and previous councils protected the towns heritage we would have droves of visitors spending money, drawing large retailers so they can spend even more money in the town and we would not them have the problems we have now. Grants and funding would be available but who would give them if the local authority are not making any efforts to preserve it RealLivin
  • Score: 1

5:38pm Wed 2 Jul 14

mikyman says...

£10000 for a public engagement and consultation!
I'll do it for £100 and stand on High Row for a day and ask obvious questions.
I hate to agree with Billy boy but he is right,where is the money coming from?
On one hand this town is so hard up its building over all the green space it can find, ie Bellburn Lane. Then suddenly it can find £10000 down the back of the sofa so some 'consultants' can ask obvious questions.
Not the best way to spend money!
This needs a re think.
£10000 for a public engagement and consultation! I'll do it for £100 and stand on High Row for a day and ask obvious questions. I hate to agree with Billy boy but he is right,where is the money coming from? On one hand this town is so hard up its building over all the green space it can find, ie Bellburn Lane. Then suddenly it can find £10000 down the back of the sofa so some 'consultants' can ask obvious questions. Not the best way to spend money! This needs a re think. mikyman
  • Score: 5

7:34pm Wed 2 Jul 14

markindurham says...

About time too. Common sense breaking out. Head of Steam & its associated activities are unique. Now to plan for 2025 & the 200th Anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington. If that doesn't get folk coming to Darlington then I will be very surprised.
About time too. Common sense breaking out. Head of Steam & its associated activities are unique. Now to plan for 2025 & the 200th Anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington. If that doesn't get folk coming to Darlington then I will be very surprised. markindurham
  • Score: 3

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