On board to celebrate a shared place in history

On board to celebrate a shared place in history

Published 29 September 2022

Darlington Building Society is proud to announce its involvement in the Stockton and Darlington Railway bicentennial celebrations, and sponsorship of the state-of-the-art Exhibition Hall – coming in 2025.

We are fast approaching the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 2025 – a moment in history that changed the world from our own backyard.

Earlier this year, Darlington Building Society was confirmed as the only financial services organisation to be officially involved in the bicentennial celebrations, which will reverberate around the world and attract tourists to County Durham and the wider region.

Up to now, the details of that involvement have been under wraps. However, the Society is delighted to announce a five-year deal to be sponsor of the new Exhibition Hall, which will become a key feature of the Darlington Rail Heritage Quarter – a £35m project to create a national visitor destination ahead of the bicentennial.

Back in March, Councillor Heather Scott, the then leader of Darlington Borough Council, cut the first sod to mark the start of work on the £35m heritage quarter – supported by a £20m investment by the Tees Valley Combined Authority – and declared: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity – a momentous day for Darlington.”

The Exhibition Hall, within the 1853 Carriage Works, will attract touring exhibitions that improve access to national collections. Initially for 2025, the hall will house a display of early locomotives from around the world, but it will continue to be used in the years beyond as an exhibition space to enrich education.

Andrew Craddock, Chief Executive of Darlington Building Society, said: “The railway played such an important part in the history of Darlington and is synonymous with the town.

“Darlington Building Society is also an integral part of the town, and the railway pioneers were a major influence on our own destiny, so when the chance arose to be part of the bicentennial celebrations, it was an opportunity we simply had to grasp.

“It’s vital that the anniversary doesn’t arrive and then leave, like a passing train, in 2025. There must be a meaningful legacy from this golden opportunity, and part of that has to be around education.

“At Darlington Building Society, we are passionate about helping the members we have today, but we are also committed to encouraging the members of tomorrow to get into the saving habit. That’s why financial education is such an important part of what we do. As well as going into local schools, The Exhibition Hall will give us fresh opportunities to stage educational workshops in an engaging environment that is steeped in history.”

Darlington Borough Council leader, Councillor Jonathan Dulston, commented: “This is another example of Darlington Building Society being central to the community it serves.

“It is investing in this fantastic project that will enhance the town for the future, while also appreciating the town’s heritage. We are so grateful that Darlington Building Society has stepped up again in becoming a very significant partner in unlocking the huge potential of this historic site.”

In addition to The Exhibition Hall, the railway heritage quarter will see essential improvements being made to historic buildings, linking them together to create a cluster of attractions, including the Skerne Bridge, the oldest working railway bridge in the world.

Digital and technological investment will bring history to life and plans include a new immersive ride experience, a café, shop, themed play area, showfield, new live engineering building, archive and extended car parking.

“It is going to be such an exciting journey, and we are thrilled to be on board,” added Mr Craddock.

Find out more about how we support our community: Our Community – Darlington Building Society