About Us

Find out more about Hopetown Darlington

Hopetown Darlington is made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to use the fund towards the redevelopment of an historic and important railway heritage site.

Our Mission Statement

Darlington changed the world as a pioneer of the modern railway. Hopetown Darlington will engage and inspire the innovators of the future by connecting them with our pioneering railway heritage.

Our History

The original North Road Station opened in 1842 on the route of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. It was the only railway station in Darlington until 1887 and North Road Station's significance gradually declined throughout the 20th century. 

The station building received Grade II* recognition by Historic England on 28 April 1952.

In the 1970s, the station was purchased by a consortium consisting of the local council and tourist board, Darlington museum's service and local businesses. By then, it was seldom used and had been vandalised.

It was transformed into a railway museum - originally called North Road Station Museum - which was opened in 1975 by the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh as part of celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway.

The museum was refurbished in 2007, and reopened in 2008 as the Head of Steam - Darlington Railway Museum.

After securing £35 million of funding, between 2022 and 2024 the museum, and surrounding heritage buildings, were transformed into a brand new visitor attraction, Hopetown Darlington. The name takes inspiration from the old Hopetown foundry works associated with the railways.

The classic features from the museum are joined by ground-breaking new attractions spread over a 7.5 acre site and incorporating other heritage railway buildings showcasing Darlington's innovative history.


Hopetown Darlington is home to a vast collection of over 30,000 objects including archives, vehicles, art, costumes, ephemera and furniture showcasing the history of the railways in Darlington and the wider North East region from 1825 up to the late 20th Century.

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