Following on from the refurbishment of Monkwearmouth Station Museum in 2007 a new building to house the two historically significant railway wagons displayed in the Sidings since 1977 was planned. The wagons, a prototype Goods Brake Van built at Shildon in 1915 and a Covered Carriage Truck built, according to records, at York in 1939, have suffered from being out in the open in all weathers and are in need of restoration to bring them back to good order.
It is clearly not worth spending money on them just to sit out in the open again. Plans to provide a shelter building started to be drawn up in earnest in 2008, money having been secured from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Construction started in May this year and that building is now complete and was handed over to the Museum on 9 November. The wagons were ceremonially winched into their new home on the following day, Wednesday 10th November.
In the meantime a lot of work by the staff of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums to secure funding for the restoration work and grants have been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Fund for the Preservation of Industrial and Scientific Material (PRISM), Garfield Weston Foundation, Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, Tyne & Wear Museums Archives & Museums Business Partners and Friends of Sunderland Museums (FOSUMS). This has raised £145,806 to not only restore the wagons but to also have first class interpretation and develop a learning programme to involve members of the community and interested people to be involved and to learn about their heritage through both formal and informal learning events and projects.
Through me as your guide through this blog you will be able to learn about the project, the people and the processes involved. If there is more you want to know ask me what and I will ask our team of specialists to provide the answer if it is not something I can not help you with myself. You will meet them all here as the project progresses through its various stages towards its completion and the opening of the new attraction due in September 2011. The first thing we must do is dry the wagons out having stood out in the rain (and there has been a lot of it recently) and so they will be left to dry out in their new home for about three weeks. This will give us time to appoint the restoration contractor to do the specialist reconstruction work and the design consultant who will lead on the interpretation.
Watch the Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums blog for more on the background of the project and updates! www.twmuseums.org.uk/engage/blog
Keeper of History at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums