Did you know Locomotion in Shildon was the site of the world's first steam-hauled passenger railway called the Stockton & Darlington Railway?

The North East has always had a rich association with the railways and Locomotion continues to keep alive the region's railway traditions with a programme which sees historic rail vehicles restored to their former glory.

Exterior of Locomotion Museum at Shildon in County Durham.

Locomotion was founded in 2004 and is part of the Science Museum Group – sharing a collection with the National Railway Museum in York. The museum is FREE to enter and houses around 70 vehicles from the earliest locomotives such as Sans Pareil, which featured in the Rainhill Trials of 1829, to the infamous Advanced Passenger Train of the 1980s.

As well as high profile celebrity engines, (Flying Scotsman has visited four times and will be visiting again this summer!) the museum is also home to more humble electric-powered rail cars that will be familiar to millions of commuters across the country. One such vehicle with the strikingly unglamorous name 2HAP no.4308, has been the subject of an extensive five-year restoration programme which involved volunteers at both Locomotion and the National Railway Museum in York.

A volunteer at Locomotion helps paint the exterior of a train

The name ‘2HAP’ indicates that it is formed of two carriages – and only one of these has a toilet (something of a problem on longer commutes as the carriages weren’t linked).

Although very much an everyday vehicle, the 2HAP had a hard life, entering service in 1959 and clocking up an impressive 2.7 million miles before being retired in 1995.

Unfortunately, it was then deemed surplus to requirements but was designated for preservation. It was stored for 20 years before a dedicated team led by Chris Osman from the Network South East Railway Society, decided to take action to save the vehicle from deterioration.  

Chris assembled a team who began work on restoring the carriage initially at York, before moving to Shildon in 2015.

two different painted sides of a restored train at Locomotion museum in County Durham.

At Shildon the inhouse workshop team and volunteers, began the painstaking task of stripping the carriage back to bare metal prior to repainting. The team stripped bitumen off the roof with a hammer and chisel, stripped, filled and repainted the carriage doors and also repaired the guard’s doors.

Once all the repairs were completed, the body was repainted with Network South East livery on one side and British Rail blue and grey on the other (the only vehicle in the collection to have this distinctive look). By the end of October 2018, the new floor had been laid, seats had been reinstalled and after a thorough polish, 2HAP went on display.

2HAP is not the only carriage to have passed through Shildon’s workshop and the team has a long list of heritage diesel and electric vehicles that will be given a new lease of life for new generations to enjoy. Since the museum opened in 2004 – 18 vehicles have now been restored in the workshop.

The interior of a train been restored at Locomotion in County Durham.

The work took place behind barriers but in full sight of visitors, so that people could see progress taking place and could ask the team about the project. Volunteering opportunities are open for everyone and restoration projects like the 2HAP, have helped pass on a range of restoration skills to a new generation.

2HAP is also celebrating its 60th birthday this month! (June 2019) There's no better reason to come along to Locomotion and help celebrate this very special engine's birthday. You can even find out how you can get involved with volunteering!  

Click here for more information about Locomotion Museum. 




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