Iconic building selected for new Leicester City Railway musuem

New Railway Museum sketch

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) supported project to develop a brand new railway museum in Leicester has taken a leap forward with the announcement of the winning architects design.

WilkinsonEyre’s striking design was chosen from a shortlist of six candidates following extensive public consultation in early October 2016.

The exciting new museum, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, is a partnership between the award winning Great Central Railway, Leicester City Council and the York based National Railway Museum. It will house significant locomotives from the national collection, bringing them closer to the heart of the country than ever before. They will sit right alongside the heritage railways terminus at Leicester North station.

Andy Munro the Chief Executive of the Great Central Railway said, “This will be a museum for the whole of the city and the county and it was vital we consulted as widely as possible before choosing the winning design. There were several key factors to consider; would the new building be the right environment for the intended displays, was it iconic enough considering where it will sit on the city skyline and of course, does it fit with the projects budget? The museum team were set a hard task by such a high standard of shortlisted schemes, but we’re confident we have chosen the right one.”

The WilkinsonEyre design will see three two storey exhibition halls constructed alongside Leicester North station. A glass wall will allow visitors arriving by train to see into the museum and vice versa. The choice of this design also allows the Great Central to retain the existing railway station building and platform, which volunteers had campaigned for, while allowing for future expansion. It will also mean the project budget can be concentrated on the exhibitions and their educational benefits, rather than remodelling the station area.

Paul Kirkman, Director of the National Railway Museum commented “We have a number of irreplaceable locomotives which will go on display within the museum. Famous names like ‘Green Arrow’ and ‘Butler Henderson’ deserve to be shown off in a building that is just as iconic, but crucially has to be able to protect the exhibits too. The Wilkinson Eyre design provides the optimum conditions to display these important items from the National Collection within a building of stunning visual presence.”

Chris Wilkinson of Wilkinson Eyre said “We are delighted to have won this project in such a strong competition and we are looking forward to progressing the design which will be a great asset for Leicester.”

Andy Munro concluded “We are looking forward to working with Wilkinson Eyre and our partners to help realise our vision for the museum. This is an important project for the Great Central Railway and represents a new chapter in the 50 year life of the railway. It will help us to further the preservation of the heritage of the GCR whilst at the same time create a new tourist attraction in Leicester, contributing to the on-going regeneration of the City. It is also a tribute to the Heritage Lottery Fund who have worked with us and helped us get to this significant milestone.’

In 2015, the Great Central Railway secured a first round pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of a £10m grant allocation to build a museum which will house locomotives, carriages and other significant items from the National Collection. The many exhibits will tell the story of how the GCR and other railways contributed to the social and economic history of Leicester and the County. The estimated cost of the museum is £18m with the HLF contributing £10m.