Remaking Beamish: Bus Depot

Remaking Beamish: Bus Depot

One of the next elements of the Remaking Beamish programme to be commenced is a new, purpose-designed, bus depot.  The work on site has already commenced, to prepare for piling and ground stabilisation.  We thought that blog readers might like to see some of the 3D computer generated images of the depot…

The depot is a key part of the Remaking Beamish scheme, recognising that as the museum gets busier, so the transport system will need to both work harder and achieve greater levels of reliability (in order to provide, in basic terms, more seats per hour for the visitors).  There is significant investment coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Reece Foundation and Go-North East for this project, which will provide accommodation for several motor buses as well as a bespoke workshop for them to be maintained in.  The historic vehicle operation will also be maintained in the same workshop.

The building is styled on 1930s/40s practice, as applied to bus depots built in this period.  It is fairly non-specific in period however, housing as it will buses dating from the First World War to the 1950s.  The gable end and colour scheme reflects the Northern General Omnibus Company, whose name will also appear on the timber panels, along with an appropriate clock.

We were keen to avoid any steel/metal cladding in order to avoid the ‘sweating’ that can occur in such buildings (reducing condensation forming on the buses) so a cement fibre panelling system has been selected, to clad the roof and upper sides of the depot, which is a steel frame building with truss-frame style roof and brick panels to the outer skin.  Internally there will be painted block walls, which will be disguised with period posters and signage.

The workshop area is vital to our operation and for the first time will enable all of the buses to be accommodated on a pit (rather than the wider ones sharing the tramway maintenance pit).  It will also house a secure store and space for carrying out routine maintenance on the historic vehicles of a non-passenger carrying variety that operate at Beamish.  Trams and Trolleybuses will be maintained (and kept!) in the existing tram depot.  The space gained there from re-homing the motor bus fleet will enable some reorganisation of the depot and workshop area, with a new dedicated transport workshop being created for both tramcars and railway rolling stock (at the rear of Road 4/Road 5).  The existing vehicle workshop will become a fabrication shop, the current one being used to expand the machine shop.

As can be imagined, this is an expensive and significant investment, and whilst we would love to have had a larger depot with more frills, the design that has been arrived at greatly enhances our facilities.  Externally there will be a vehicle washing area – essential with us using the transport collection so much during winter (on salted roads).  There will also be considerably more public access, with the bus depot area being open to the public whilst the workshop will have viewing windows to enable maintenance work to be observed.

Below are some of the architectural renditions provided by our contractor, Team Build, and which show some of the external elements of the building.  The site is now in the hands of the contractor and we hope to have access to the completed depot and workshop in the autumn, all being well.  The main depot entrance faces the direction of the Foulbridge tram stop, and lies parallel to the existing footpath and tramway.  The workshop has an entrance facing onto the service road into the Foulbridge office area, and the workshop floor sits lower due to the slope of the land (whence separate doorway).