Darlington rail volunteers beg council to lift 'impossible' deadline

Stockton and Darlington Railway Goods Shed Image copyright David Dixon/Geograph
Image caption The Stockton and Darlington railway shed is said to be the oldest railway building still in railway use in the world

Railway heritage volunteers have begged for more time to vacate a "dangerous" Grade II-listed building being held up by one of the locomotives inside it.

The Darlington Railway Preservation Society said it would be impossible to move the 700 tonnes of machinery before the March deadline.

It sent Darlington Council officers a list of the equipment inside the shed but received no response, it said.

Founding member Barrie Lamb said there were "37 years of goods to move".

"We reckon we have about £2m of equipment in there," he said.

"This is very big stuff and it takes specialised transport, which will cost £8,000 a vehicle.

"It's no good saying we can move out in three months, there's too much to do."

'Propped-up' tower

The 1833 shed is the oldest railway building still in railway use in the world, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Officers want it vacated quickly because they are "acutely aware" of the pressing deadline to remedy structural problems before the Stockton and Darlington Railway's 2025 bi-centenary celebrations.

Director of economic growth Ian Williams told the society: "You are in a building at the moment which is deemed dangerous and we can't allow that to continue."

The council recently announced plans to capitalise on the town's rail heritage with a visitor attraction on the site.

But Mr Lamb said the shed had been in a poor state for 12 years and the council had said there was no money for repairs.

A company employed to survey it was "amazed the tower was being propped up by one of our locomotives", he said.

The society said a letter to the council proposing it remains in one half while the other is revamped had not been answered.

Council leader Heather Scott has asked officers to see whether they could be flexible with the timescale and help devise a plan for the move.

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