WilkinsonEyre has seen off strong competition to win the job to design Leicester’s new £18 million Great Central Railway Museum
The Stirling Prize-shortlisted practice’s winning ‘iconic design’ beat proposals by six rival practices including Hawkins\Brown, Carmody Groarke, Grimshaw, Farrells and BDP.
WilkinsonEyre’s design includes three two-storey exhibition halls with a glass wall allowing visitors arriving by train to see into the museum from the track.
The scheme allows the Great Central Railway to retain the existing railway station building and its platform – a feature which local campaigners had fought to keep.
The new museum, which is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will house a collection of locomotives and provide a new headquarters for the Great Central Railway.
Supported by the National Railway Museum in York and Leicester City Council, the new 5,105m² facility will be constructed next to the heritage railway’s existing Leicester North terminus.
Chief executive of the Great Central Railway Andy Munro 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.’
Paul Kirkman, director of the National Railway Museum, added: ‘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 WilkinsonEyre design provides the optimum conditions to display these important items from the National Collection within a building of stunning visual presence.’
In a poll of AJ readers Hawkins\Brown’s designs came top with 51 per cent of readers picking it as their winner. WilkinsonEyre’s scheme received just 13 per cent of the vote.
The new museum is planned to open in 2021 and is expected to increase visitor numbers at the Leicester North terminal from 124,000 to 230,000 a year.
Railway Museum Poll