Willmott Dixon on board for £35m railway museum scheme

Willmott Dixon appointed to deliver £35m Darlington Railway Heritage Quarter project.

Willmott Dixon has been appointed to deliver the £35m Darlington Railway Heritage Quarter project.

The scheme will transform the Head of Steam railway museum site off North Road, which includes the goods shed and carriage works, into a tourist attraction that will attract visitors from across the UK and overseas. 

The work involves the design and build of a new Railway Heritage Quarter Museum including the refurbishment of Grade II listed buildings, a new live engineering shed and an immersive experience building which will feature holograms of trains as well as static displays, a café and shop, new public area, parking and a railway themed children’s play area.

Due to complete in 2024, the attraction is anticipated to be ready for the bi-centenary celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 2025. 

Anthony Dillon, managing director of Willmott Dixon’s Northern operations said: “We are delighted to be once again working in partnership with Darlington Borough Council on an exciting tourist attraction that showcases Darlington’s proud railway heritage, which transformed the local area nearly 100 years ago. Working with our specialist local supply chain partners, we look forward to supporting local businesses and generating prosperity within the Tees Valley.”   

The award of the Darlington Railway Heritage Quarter marks Willmott Dixon’s 25th project in the Tees Valley since 2010 and its eighth scheme in Darlington.  In May 2020, the company handed over the £8.5m Feethams House office development; a building specifically designed to stimulate the local economy by attracting inward investment and supporting new and growing businesses.   

The company is also on site delivering the £8m Innovation Central in Darlington, which when complete will provide a 2,370 sq m four storey office and laboratory development, creating a purpose-built home for digital and technical businesses that will be a catalyst for local investment.

The Darlington Railway Heritage Quarter project has been procured via the SCAPE framework. 

Mark Robinson, SCAPE group chief executive, said: “The Railway Heritage Quarter development will transform the local area and celebrate the rich heritage of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Preserving local heritage like this is fundamental to supporting growth across the UK. Combining the vast experience that Willmott Dixon holds in delivering important schemes of this nature, with the speed and socioeconomic benefits of using a SCAPE framework, we’re proud to help Darlington Borough Council accelerate this project, confident that they have a fantastic team in place to deliver an important asset for visitors and the local community to enjoy for years to come.” 

Willmott Dixon was selected by Darlington Council to deliver the project, which is being supported by £20m of funding from the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said: “This top-quality scheme will include attractions never seen before in our region. It’s yet another project we’re kick-starting in 2022, our year of construction. This is a bit different to the other schemes we’re driving forward this year, from transforming transport to redeveloping Teesworks. It’s no less important, though, and that’s why we committed £20m to make it a reality.”

If you would like to contact Karen McLauchlan about this, or any other story, please email