Courtesy of a partnership arrangement between the National Railway Museum and Doncaster Council, assisted by support from the Friends of Doncaster Museum, the Great Northern Railway ‘Atlantic’ locomotive no.251 has now arrived at the site following a 90-mile lorry journey from Locomotion in County Durham.

Having been built in Doncaster two years into the 20th century, the train clocked up 45 years in service before being retired in 1947. It will now become central to the new Danum Gallery, Library and Museum’s rail heritage centre for at least three years – the initial loan period from the national collection.

No. 251 and another as yet unannounced locomotive will be displayed on purpose-built tracks alongside memorabilia from the Doncaster Grammar School Railway Collection and other artefacts connecting the town to the railway industry.

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The GNR Atlantic
GNR ‘Atlantic’ Locomotive No.251 leaves Locomotion, Shildon © Charlotte Graham/Science Museum Group

“Doncaster is, and always will be, a rail town so it is fitting that we have two locomotives built at our famous plant works as the showcase attractions in what will be an incredibly enlightening rail heritage centre,” says Cllr Nigel Ball, Doncaster Council’s cabinet member for public health, leisure and culture.

“Packed with many never been seen before rail exhibits, the rail heritage centre, like the whole building, is going to be a real treat for residents and visitors. As a past worker at The Plant in the early 80s I am really excited about this and what this means for Doncaster.”

The first public access to the exhibit will be in March when a virtual tour of the building goes live. The timeline for in-person visits will be entirely dependent on Covid restrictions.

The Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, predicts the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum will become a “wonderful community asset where local people and visitors to Doncaster can learn and explore a stunning selection of exhibits that celebrate our past, present and future”.

The newly-installed locomotive will, she adds, be “the first of many gems” revealed to the public as part of the virtual tour.

The team behind the new cultural hub have said admitting the first visitors to the site will occur “later in the year”, with circumstances making it impossible to commit to a concrete opening date.

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