Sunderland transport museum wins expansion plan bid

On the site of the proposed new tram shed at the NE Land Sea and Air Museum, Washington. Left to right; Dave Harrison, Chair of the North Eastern Electrical Traction Trust, with Councillors Jill Fletcher and John Kelly and some of the museum volunteers.
On the site of the proposed new tram shed at the NE Land Sea and Air Museum, Washington. Left to right; Dave Harrison, Chair of the North Eastern Electrical Traction Trust, with Councillors Jill Fletcher and John Kelly and some of the museum volunteers.
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RESTORATION plans are on track after a museum overcame opposition from its neighbours to expand its workshops.

A Bradford trolley bus and a Blackpool tram will be the first to be returned to their original glory in a new extension to the North East Aircraft Museum in Washington.

The new facility attached to the venue – which is part of the North East Land Sea and Air Museum – will house a collection belonging to the North Eastern Electrical Traction Trust.

The trams will move into the space after plans for the extension to the north side of the site were approved by Sunderland City Council’s development control committee.

A joint letter from residents of 1, 2, 3, and 5 Usworth Cottages and The Chalet in Washington Road said: “The residents have suffered for many years from living alongside a noisy, unkempt facility and feel that now is the time to ensure that the situation does not get any worse.”

It went on to raise concerns over potential noise from restoration work, saying that the plans do not match with the “dictionary definition of a museum”.

The approved single-storey extension will be 65 metres long, 12.5 metres wide and 6.8 metres high, and will contain three bays with rail access.

There will also be a small workshop with two rainwater collection tanks installed to reduce reliance on mains water.

The trust says the work carried out will be cosmetic, with no heavy restoration taking place at the former RAF Usworth amd Sunderland Aerodrome site.

Its long-term goal is to establish an operational tramway. However, the focus now is to get the collection under cover.

It will open to the public at certain times, when trams will be displayed outside.

Councillor Philip Tye said the new sections would not be out of place because of the industrial nature of the area.

He added: “There’s a lot more industry there that I would think would impact more on the people who live there than a museum.”