Historic railway building on track to be converted into housing

A building which remains a part of Darlington's historic railway heritage will be converted into housing.

Signal House in Whessoe Road once stood right beside the level crossing over which the 3,000 locomotives built in the North Road workshops went out to join the railway network. Francis Ward, the owner of Signal House was previously granted permission to demolish it for a new development, but later decided to convert it into luxury co-living accommodation.

Now, plans to convert the site into a 22-person large House in Mixed Occupation (HMO) have been approved.

A communal kitchen/dining room will be created on the ground floor as well as separate male and female toilets and laundry facilities. Each floor will then consist of 11 rooms, with some being ensuite, as well as shower/ toilet blocks. A small second floor extension is proposed on the flat roof above the entrance.

The building's commercial use on the ground floor will remain, with Harry’s Handcrafted Donuts currently baking there.

The lasting legacy of Darlington[2]'s railway heritage can still be seen today. Immediately behind the property is the 1861 Stockton[3] & Darlington Railway engine shed which is currently being restored by Darlington Council.

Speaking of his initial plans to demolish the building, Francis said: "If I had known about the incredible development happening just next door as part of the Rail Heritage Quarter, I would have never looked to demolish Signal House. But here I am, three years later, desperate to ensure that this building, which formed part of that original history, is given a new life as a unique living space that compliments the surrounding area.

"I hope that as well as contributing to the development, it will serve as a reminder of the importance of preserving our heritage for future generations.

"There are so many incredible buildings in the town that are at risk of being demolished because it's easier for a developer to start from scratch. Well the reward from repurposing our history far outweighs any other concerns for me on this site, and I have no doubt that it will be a great success, in time for 2025."

Redevelopment work on the building is due to start later this year.


  1. ^ Hundreds of job losses confirmed at Wilko as bidder misses deadline (www.gazettelive.co.uk)
  2. ^ Darlington (www.gazettelive.co.uk)
  3. ^ Stockton (www.gazettelive.co.uk)