The museum’s site includes a number of historic buildings occupied by local railway heritage groups and organisations.
The Friends of Darlington Railway Museum
The Friends of Darlington Railway Museum were established in 1975 to support, promote and encourage interest in the Railway Centre and Museum, and to raise funds by membership subscriptions and other means, to further the aim of helping the museum.
The Friends help the Museum with technical advice, provides guides when needed and have a stall selling second hand books and DVD's to raise funds
A Friends Newsletter is produced four times a year to report on activities of the Friends and other articles of railway interest.
Entry to the museum is free for Friends. We also hold monthly meetings on the first Thursday of each month (except August) and occasional special meetings. All meetings take place in the Meeting Room in the museum and start at 1.45 pm. Entry is free for Friends and a small fee is charged to visitors. Tea and biscuits are available.
For more information on joining the Friends and their programme of talks please visit the The Friends of Darlington Railway Centre and Museum [external link]
Darlington Railway Preservation Society
The society was formed in 1980 to preserve local relics of the Railway Heritage of Darlington. Inside the workshops are several locomotives that were either built or spent their working lives in and around the Darlington Area. These include a diesel shunter, which worked at Cleveland Bridge when they were based in Smithfield Road, an electric locomotive from the Darlington Chemical Works on West Auckland Road, and No.39, a large 0-6-0 Tank Engine, built at Robert Stephenson's works in Thompson Street.
The Society's biggest project is the full restoration of the BR 2-6-0 Mixed Traffic loco 78018. This engine was built in the North Road works at Darlington and spent much of its life working between the Western and the Eastern side of the Pennines, over the ferocious Stainmore Summit. It is expected to take several years to complete the rebuilding of this engine and it is hoped eventually that 78018 may run over the line from Bishop Auckland to Eastgate (The Weardale Line).
DRPS website [external link]
A1 Steam Locomotive Trust
The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust is a registered charity whose mission is: "To build and operate a Peppercorn Class A1 Pacific steam locomotive for mainline and preserved railway use".
The Trust has completed Tornado, the first new mainline steam locomotive in Britain for 40 years at a cost of over £1.7million. The locomotive has been built within Darlington Locomotive Works. The Loco works are usually open to the general public from 11am to 4pm on the 2nd Saturday of every month.
The A1 Trust are currently restoring and modernising a service carriage.
A1 Steam website [external link]
North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group
N.E.L.P.G is a charity run by volunteers of skilled and unskilled enthusiasts.
The group owns and maintains several locomotives such as
- LNER Class K1 v6-0 No. 62005
- LNER Class J27 0-6-0 No. 65894
- NER Class T2 0-8-0 No. 2238
- LNER Class J72 0-6-0T No. 69023
N.E.L.P.G website [external link]
Darlington Model Railway Club
The Darlington Model Railway Club has met at the Railway Museum site since 1991, but was formed in 1971, meeting for many years at the Americana Fish Bar in Bondgate.
The club work on various model layouts and exhibit around the country at different exhibitions. The popular Thomas the Tank engine layout is exhibited in the museum at various events, and the club have recently established a Model Railway weekend at the museum in September.
South Durham Society of Model Engineers
The Club meets in the basement of Hurworth community centre (every Tuesday at 7pm), where a workshop is located. Members can learn how to safely operate Milling Machines, Lathes and other workshop tools.
A community room with a library of engineering material is available where members can sit and chat about anything over a cuppa and biscuits. Members often continue discussions in the community centre bar.
The club periodically invites guest speakers to talk about various topical things.
The club also has a portable track that can be hired for various indoor and outdoor events, and visits the museum several times a year – proving very popular with visitors of all ages (and staff too!).
South Durham Society of Model Engineers website [external link]