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Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees marks start of work on bold new extension at Preston Park

12 February 2024
Groundbreaking ceremony at Preston Park to mark the works of the new extension and storage building beginning including councillors, contractors and the local MP.

Groundbreaking ceremony at Preston Park to mark the works of the new extension and storage building beginning including councillors, contractors and the local MP.

Work has officially started on a new, modern extension to Preston Park Museum which will create a space for nationally significant touring exhibitions and loans.

The Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees unveiled a plaque to commemorate construction work beginning on the 500msq building on Monday 12 February before putting the first spade in the ground.

The Mayor was joined by guests including His Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, Mrs Sue Snowdon, Matt Vickers MP for Stockton South and appointed contractors Galliford Try at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The new building will provide a space to showcase more of the museum's fantastic collections and will transform Preston Park Museum and Grounds into an innovative and inspiring visitor destination.

Work on the two-storey extension is taking place to the west of the existing Grade II Listed Preston Hall, with the new building set to connect into the popular Victorian Street.

Visitors will be welcomed through a new entrance and on the ground floor there will be interactive galleries and an open collection store, presenting hundreds of fascinating objects which have never been on display before. There will also be a new café overlooking the orchard.

The first floor will incorporate three large inter-connected spaces, equipped with special humidity and temperature control systems to allow unique and prestigious touring exhibits to be presented in the museum.

Work to the extension of the existing south car park behind Butterfly World to provide almost 100 additional spaces will also begin in the spring.

Plans for wider park improvement include a new café and toilets, repurposing of the aviary and new interpretation to highlight the Stockton and Darlington Railway story along the original trackbed. Details are currently being developed and will be shared in the coming months.

Councillor Steve Nelson, Cabinet Member for Health, Leisure and Culture at Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: "This is an exciting time for Preston Park Museum and Grounds. The improvements will bring significant benefits to the Borough and allow this fantastic attraction to continue inspiring people for many years to come.

"Preston Hall is a much-loved venue at the heart of our community. This new extension will only enhance its current offer, bringing objects of importance and quality never before seen in the area and is an important milestone in its journey to illustrate our local history."

Councillor Jim Beall, Mayor of Stockton-on-Tees, said: "I am delighted to be on site to mark the start of this ambitious project at Preston Park, the Council's jewel in the crown.

"This new development will create an inspiring visitor experience fit for future generations, improving cultural experiences and at the same time celebrating the importance of our heritage.

"It's brilliant that the new extension will enable nationally significant touring exhibitions and loans to come to our Borough for our communities to experience and enjoy."

The transformation of Preston Park Museum and Grounds is being funded after the Council secured £20million for improvements to Yarm and Eaglescliffe from the Government's Levelling Up Fund.

The investment at the popular visitor attraction in Eaglescliffe will provide significant benefits to the region by improving access to culture and heritage for people across the Tees Valley, as well as boosting tourism in the local area.

Jeremy Barnett, Operations Director for Galliford Try Building North East and Yorkshire, said: "Starting this fantastic new project is an exciting time for us and we look forward to working with all the stakeholders involved to produce a new facility that allows the local community to make the most out of this much-loved destination."

The new building is set to open in 2025.

Find out more about how the Council is transforming Preston Park Museum and Grounds.