Published: 06:00, 31 January 2021
A warehouse used to store historic trains is to be transformed into a locomotive museum celebrating British railway heritage.
Locomotive Storage Ltd, which owns the Hornby site in Margate where the building is located, has been given permission by Thanet District Council to push ahead with plans for the new attraction, which will be called the One:One Collection.
Once open, visitors will be able to see some of the most iconic and historically important UK railway locomotives, rolling stock and memorabilia as well as a "sizeable collection" of engineered models.
Vehicles such as London buses and vintage trucks could also feature.
The plans are the brainchild of noted railway enthusiast Jeremy Hosking, who has 25 full sized locomotives in his collection, and former chief executive of Hornby Frank Martin, who was boss between 2001 and 2013.
Hornby Hobbies, which manufactures model railways and toy products, operates a visitor centre in the building next door to the warehouse on Ramsgate Road and is a tenant of Locomotive Storage Ltd.
Mr Martin says there are significant structural changes that need to be done and this year will be spent focusing on health and safety, and disabled access, but hopes to hold open days next year, with full completion in three years.
"We're convinced the museum will bring people into the area - the only other attraction like this is the National Railway Museum in York," he said.
"To gauge interest, we held an open weekend in 2019 and had 2,500 people on that weekend and they were all paying guests, so we believe the interest is there."
In a statement prepared by Haptic Architects and submitted to Thanet council, Mr Hosking, who runs Locomotive Storage Ltd, and Mr Martin set out their plans to transform the warehouse.
"The development seeks to convert the existing warehouse used for the storage of historic trains into a locomotive museum that celebrates British railway heritage.
"It would also require a variety of external alterations that are considered to enhance the appearance of the building and respect the character of the area.
"Internally, it is proposed to provide a pleasant and user-friendly environment splitting the old warehouse into a series of spaces that flow logically.
"This would include a main exhibition space at mezzanine level where visitors are free to roam, and then the main hall at ground floor that is used for the storage of the historic locomotives where visitors would be taken in organised groups from the mezzanine.
"There would be a café, additional working space and exhibition space at lower ground floor level that would be ancillary to the museum use."
Parking will be provided at the back of the visitor centre building next door, accessed from Channel Road, with 99 spaces, as well as 15 for motorbikes.
Mr Martin said: "The visitor centre takes up about a third of the space and so parking can be provided in the rest of the building.
"The idea is as soon as you drive into the car park, you'll get a sense of what it's all about, with wall displays and exhibits.
"The journey starts there and then visitors will walk mainly undercover to the main entrance of the museum building."
Once open, Locomotive Storage Ltd says the new museum will operate seven days a week from 10am to 4pm and will employ some 14 members of staff, with security staff on site at all times.
In a council report, Thanet's planning team says the change of use would provide tourism and community facilities that have the potential to bring economic benefits including employment.
The plan has won the support of Thanet MPs Sir Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay, as well as from Turner Contemporary.