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The north’s newest visitor attraction has announced its opening date – and tickets are now available
to book.

In 1825, a railway journey changed the world forever. Locomotion No. 1 became the first steam locomotive to haul a passenger-carrying train on a public railway – the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

It’s Darlington that will be the destination for tens of thousands of visitors this summer when the region’s newest visitor attraction, Hopetown Darlington, throws open its doors - just in time for the
school holidays.

Following a £35m investment, Hopetown Darlington will open to the public on Tuesday 16th July –the first day of a week of special events heralding a summer of celebration. Visitors will enjoy music and street theatre throughout the opening week as they explore the brand-new visitor attraction.

Wagon Woods.jpg

Visitors to Hopetown Darlington will enter through the restored Goods Shed on McNay Street.

Originally constructed in 1833, and believed to be the second-oldest goods shed remaining in the country, this Grade II* listed building now houses a café, shop, and digital media experience.

Another Grade II* listed building, North Road Station Museum (formerly the Head of Steam), celebrates the past, present and future of rail travel and engineering brilliance with a £3 million investment into a brand new interactive permanent exhibition.


In the Carriage Works, the opening special exhibition is Brick Journeys, a tour through the world of transport made entirely from LEGO® bricks. Also within this Grade II listed building is The Stores, where people of all ages can explore Hopetown’s archive and discover artefacts and objects not on permanent display.

At Darlington Locomotive Works – the new purpose-built home of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust – Hopetown visitors can watch members and volunteers of the Trust build the UK's newest steam engine.

Hopetown Darlington celebrates the innovation and experimentation that put Darlington on the map – and that all starts with play. Children’s imaginations can run free in Wagon Woods, the attraction’s railway-themed immersive outdoor adventure play park based on a Georgian feat of engineering - the Stockton & Darlington Railway’s Brusselton Incline. Developed in consultation with local primary schools, the play park includes an accessible incline track with interactive features and a companion slide suitable for wheelchair users.

Those who come by car will be able to park in style in a new car park overlooked by none other than the Grade 1 listed Skerne Bridge – which holds the distinction of being the oldest railway bridge in the world still in continuous use. Skerne Bridge Car Park will accommodate more than 200 vehicles, including spaces for disabled parking and electric charging points. A 20-minute walk from the town centre, Hopetown Darlington benefits from frequent bus services and shares a site with North Road railway station. The station is served hourly, in each direction, by Northern Trains on the Saltburn to Bishop Auckland railway line. From here you can connect to the main Darlington Railway Station (Bank Top) which benefits from mainline connections to the rest of Britain.


Entry to the site will be free of charge. Free site admission will include entry to North Road Station Museum, Darlington Locomotive Works viewing gallery and The Stores, as well as the shop, café and outdoor areas. A free ticket will be required to enter the site. Visitors are advised to pre-book their free ticket. This will reduce queue times and allow visitors to plan their day with certainty - including selecting their arrival time – to avoid disappointment at busy times.

Some exhibitions, events and activities carry a separate charge. For these, a separate ticket will be required, in addition to a free site admission ticket. These include Wagon Woods adventure play park and the Brick Journeys exhibition in the Carriage Works. Pre-booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.

Tickets can be booked at


Councillor Libby McCollom, Cabinet Member for Local Services, said: “The level of investment in this huge site is apparent everywhere you look. There’s going to be so much to see and do at Hopetown Darlington, for families, for heritage lovers, for rail heritage enthusiasts, for everyone. People are going to come from near and far to experience this new visitor attraction of national – even international – significance and I can’t wait to see it happen.”

To keep up to date with what’s on, follow Hopetown Darlington on Facebook, Instagram, X and YouTube and visit to sign up for email updates.

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