Northumbrian Water has provided a grant to help fund new gardens at Shildon’s Locomotion railway museum. 


The Railway Garden is designed to increase biodiversity at the site, encouraging the flora and fauna commonly found on railway embankments. Northumbrian Water will provide £9,000 of support from its Branch Out environmental fund – set up to help the local community build resilience in the region’s natural environment and connect people with wildlife.


The gardens will surround Locomotion’s New Hall, a major new building at the museum due to open in 2023 which will house new collections and transform current wasteland adjacent to the museum. 


Habitat planting in the garden will enable visitors to connect with nature, support volunteering in the local community and will form an integral part of the museum’s sustainable urban drainage strategy. 


The gardens will be constructed with sustainability and a reduced environmental footprint built in through the recycling and reuse of materials. The site boundary will be planted with a new native hedgerow, expanding habitats for hedgehogs, while existing trees will be fitted with bat boxes.


The wider Shildon Sidings designated Local Wildlife Site is home to one of the largest colonies of a declining UK population of the Dingy Skipper butterfly, a Priority Species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The planting scheme will include plants that the rare butterfly typically forages on, and encourage breeding. 


Locomotion, run in partnership with Durham County Council and the National Railway Museum, has been an integral part of the region’s cultural landscape since it opened in 2004, recognising Shildon’s pivotal place as one of the birthplaces of passenger rail. Part of the Science Museum Group, it welcomes up to 200,000 visitors per year. 


The New Hall and gardens are part of Vision 2025, Science Museum Group’s multi-million-pound project to transform its sites in York and Shildon with new buildings, attractions and conservation work, inspiring the next generation of the scientists, innovators and engineers. 


Stuart Pudney, Northumbrian Water’s Land and Conservation Manager, said: “The expansion of Locomotion at Shildon is really exciting on so many levels. As a tourism draw, it has been a great addition to the region, and the incorporation of nature-based solutions to water management as part of the new development is to be applauded. We are very happy to be supporting the Railway Garden through our Branch Out fund and helping to support habitats in this historic site.”


Sarah Price, Head of Locomotion, said “We are grateful to Northumbrian Water for their support in creating this new green space for Shildon, where our volunteers can connect with nature, wildlife will thrive and visitors can spend time appreciating the natural environment alongside our fabulous collections of railway vehicles.”   


People can find out more about Branch Out, which welcomes applications for up to £25,000, here




About Locomotion


• Locomotion offers visitors the chance to see highlights of the national collection of railway vehicles in Shildon - the world’s first railway town


• Locomotion forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and the National Railway Museum in York


• Locomotion is a partnership between the Science Museum Group and Durham County Council, which is a major funder of the museum


• Admission to Locomotion is free – visit for more information


• Vision 2025 is a multi-million-pound programme of construction and restoration projects that will transform and modernise Locomotion and the National Railway Museum. To learn more, visit: or 


• We require the support of generous individuals, businesses and charitable trusts to support the modernisation of Locomotion, as part of the National Railway Museum’s Vision 2025 Campaign to transform its museums and inspire the next generation of engineers. Please contact Julie Moody, Campaign Director at to find out more