£100,000 museum appeal launched

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This Wright-bodied Volvo B10B, Leyland National 2 and ex-Weardale Leyland Leopard/Plaxton are all part of the NNRG fleet. NICK LARKIN










Nick Larkin reports on plans for a new North-East museum and engineering tuition centre in a former power station building

A charity run by Go North East employees and family members has launched an appeal to raise £100,000 to buy a historic building for use as a museum and engineering tuition centre. The Northern National Restoration Group (NNRG) is already renting the 1905-built former power station, which is located next door to the soon to be demolished ex-Sunderland District/Northern depot at Philadelphia.

The group has built up a collection of vehicles from Go North East and its predecessor, Northern General. Group chairman Craig Smith has worked for the operator since 1992, having previously worked for Shaws. He is now chargehand fitter at its Chester-le-Street depot.

“This building is a unique chance for us to acquire these magnificent and historic premises,” Craig said. “Everyone who comes here is shocked. The building is sound structurally but we’d need to spend a further £150,000 to fully realise our dream of equipping it as a museum and Centre of Engineering Excellence. It would be sad to see this building lost to preservation so all efforts are being made to acquire it first.”

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The NNRG has made the premises waterproof and refurbished the reception area. It’s hoped various grants may be available but cash is also being raised by vehicle storage including that of the NNRG’s own fleet. Donations and open days are other potential income streams and there’s also a support group.

New as the power station of the Sunderland District Electric Tramways Company and the Durham Power Company, after nationalisation of the electricity supply industry the building was used as a depot by the National Coal Board for many years. NNRG moved in three years ago. An open day is being held at the premises on May 28, and all classic vehicles are welcome.

Volvo B10B 4898 is finished in Go North East’s ‘Lime’ identity. NICK LARKIN











NNRG fleet

Growing up in Stanley, County Durham Craig Smith had a particular interest in Northern’s Mk2 Leyland Nationals: “I preferred them to the Mk1s, with their clattering engines and vowed at an early age that I’d have one,” said Craig.

Northern bought 60 of the vehicles, and some would go on to give 26 years of service following major interior work and a Volvo repower. NNRG now has two: UPT 681V, a 1980 bus beginning its career at Philadelphia Depot before ending up as a driver trainer, and FTN 710W, a 1981 example initially preserved by the North East Bus Preservation Trust before passing to NNRG.

The fleet also includes:
BUP 736L, a 1973 Plaxton-bodied Leyland Leopard. The bus is owned by group member Paul Cassidy and very much part of the NNRG fleet, having spent 27 years with Weardale Motor Services.
R855 PRG, a 1998 Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renown, bought direct from Go North East where it had been looked after by Craig Smith from new.
S814 FVK, a 1998 Northern Counties-bodied Volvo Olympian, representing one of the final batch of step entrance double-deck buses bought by Go North East.
V988 ETN, another Volvo B10BLW/Wright Renown combination, this time new in 2000. The bus was acquired from preservationists in 2019 and is finished in Go North East’s ‘Lime’ livery.
NK54 NVN, a 2004 Scania L94UB/Wright Solar acquired from Go-North East 2019. The group particularly wanted this vehicle saved as it carried memorial graphics for the late Go-Ahead director Chris Moyes, who was said to have been a ‘great inspiration.’

Leyland National, Scania L94UB and Leyland Volvo Olympian projects are currently in progress. NICK LARKIN











Lend your support

You can become a Friend of the NNRG for £30 a year, entitling you to a regular magazine, discounts on trips and many other benefits. Full membership is £15 a month, which gives people a chance to work on vehicles and learn new skills. Full details can be found via the group’s website at nnrg.co.uk, by telephone on 07890 387935 or by searching for Northern National Restoration Group on Facebook.