Locomotive Storage in Margate moves ahead with One to One railway collection museum

How the One to One collection museum will look (Image Haptic Architects/Locomotive Storage)

Locomotive Storage, which operates a storage and maintenance business for classic railway locomotives and heritage rolling stock, will convert its buildings in Margate to create an impressive British railway heritage museum.

The company bought the former Hornby factory and warehouse site in February 2017 and already stores rolling stock at the property which sits alongside Hornby’s offices, showrooms and visitor centre.

(Image Savills/Locomotive Storage)

In 2018, The Isle of Thanet News revealed the imminent arrival of the classic Gresley Class A4 Pacific locomotive, Bittern and the plans for the One:One collection and museum. Permission for the alterations to make the museum a reality was granted by Thanet council last Monday (January 25).

The main area had already been converted with seven railway tracks laid in the warehouse and access loading docks to facilitate the unloading and loading of locomotives and carriages. It was planned to hold up to 30 items of rolling stock.

At that time South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said it could be: “one of the most significant locomotive museums in the world.”

Craig Mackinlay pictured with Locomotive Storage director Frank Martin in 2018

Director Frank Martin said: “When looking for a space big enough to house these historic icons, we were thrilled to have the chance to put them on the site that has been home to Hornby since the 1950s. So, since 2018, The One:One Collection has been taking shape in some of Hornby’s original warehouses.

“First to arrive was the Class A4 locomotive ‘Bittern’, the sister engine to the famous ‘Mallard’, quickly joined by guest loco BR 45379 ‘Black Five’ Class 5MT , then the ‘Cowans Sheldon’ 50 tonnes breakdown crane and several historically important coaches. The diminutive but equally important ‘Wickham Trolley’ followed soon afterwards.

Photo John Horton

“But the story doesn’t stop with rail. Thanks to the immense strength of the warehouse structure, we’re able to reconfigure a mezzanine floor to house other icons of transport and engineering history. So our 1:1 scale trains will be joined by cars, buses and even some large scale railway models.

“When we’re able to fully open The One:One Collection Museum to the public, instead of a static collection, you’ll find a changing set of exhibits, giving you the chance to encounter different parts of our fascinating rail history at each visit.

“We’ll also have large-scale, hand-built models and many other pieces of rail memorabilia. Once the planned One:One Collection Museum is complete, you’ll go from small scale to real-life, viewing models from 00 gauge right up to the real thing.

“Special exhibits telling the stories of our remarkable locomotives, their origins, and the role that rail has played in our nation’s history will put these feats of engineering into context.”

Black Loco 5 arriving at the site Photo John Horton

Locomotive Storage will make structural changes at the site to create the museum but retain the industrial appearance of the property. This involves splitting the old warehouse into a series of spaces that flow through a main exhibition space at mezzanine level where visitors are free to roam freely, 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 will be a café, additional working space and exhibition space at lower ground floor level that would be ancillary to the museum use.

Car parking will be provided in the rear of the factory building which is currently unused and vacant, with a total of 99 spaces – 93 of these spaces will serve the museum and another 5 are displaced spaces for the visitor centre. There would be an additional 15 spaces for motorbikes. This parking will be accessed from Channel Road.

(Image Haptic Architects/Locomotive Storage)

The development would operate 7 days a week between the hours of 10am and 4pm. It would employ approximately 14 members of staff, meaning seven new roles in addition to the seven staff currently employed there. A member of security staff would be on site at all times.

Planning documents submitted for the museum state: “The proposed development has a very specific historic association to the site as it has been formerly used by Hornby as their warehousing facility and more recently for the storage of historic locomotives.

(Image Haptic Architects/Locomotive Storage)

“Hornby is a British model railway brand with roots that date back to 1901 with a long established relationship with the Margate factories. There is already a Hornby Visitor Centre for the display of Hornby model trains within building H1. The museum therefore has a very strong historic connection to this specific site and the museum relates positively to the existing Hornby operation and shows off the best of British rail whilst celebrating the sites heritage and historic function.

(Image Haptic Architects/Locomotive Storage)

“The museum would create seven new jobs through the need for permanent and part time staff to work in the museum (total 14 full-time jobs). This employment level could also increase in future. Furthermore, the proposed use would also boost the tourist economy by encouraging people to visit and spend in the area.”

Bittern Photo Frank Martin

Locomotives already stored at the site include Bittern, Black 5 loco, the only surviving 4732 designated 4-SUB ( Sub standing for Suburban), the Mersey Rail Class 503 Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) and  one coach from a preserved 4 EPB unit 5176 in BR blue.

Photo James Mitchell

Locomotive Storage Limited, a property company affiliated with Locomotive Services Limited, Statesman Rail and Icons of Steam, bought the former Hornby factory site for a reported £2.25million. Hornby leases back part of the site.

Find out more about the collection at http://www.theonetoonecollection.co.uk/

Photo John Horton

Read here: Locomotive Storage Ltd in Margate welcomes the only surviving 4732 4-SUB unit

Read here: Bittern ready to make journey to Margate’s planned ‘locomotive museum’

Read here: Bittern has arrived in Margate

Read here: Heritage electric train offered permanent home at Margate One:One railway and transport collection

Read here: Hornby Hobbies bringing offices and showroom back to its traditional Margate home


  1. Great news indeed, though I do wonder if the location is a bit out of the way for day trippers going to the seaside? I’ll certainly be visiting myself – went to the railway museum in York a couple of years ago and found it absolutely fantastic!

    • Is the RAF Museum out of the way at Manston Airport. ? I guess not
      Is the Shell Grotto in Grotto Hill out of the way. I guess not
      Is Minster Abbey out of the way. I guess not
      If people are interested they will find the additional attraction easy to find. Rather like they will find the deplorable shopping centre called WestWood Cross.
      Well done and thank you for your investment in Fanet.

      • Shell Grotto is within walking distance of Margate seafront, but I doubt if many day trippers arriving by train go to those other places either (much that they’re worth seeing).

  2. The history of steam locomotives at the time we were the builders of these wonders of early engineering in transport. Finally a railway museum in Margate. It’s a pity we couldn’t have a heritage line of steam trains from Herne bay to Ramsgate as a new attraction as well for visitors.

    • Heritage lines tend to be on old discontinued tracks (Margate to Ramsgate via Westwood would be ideal if parts hadn’t been built on!). I’d like to see parts of the old Elham Valley Railway (closed in 1947) revived as a heritage railway, technically probably possible in parts.

  3. I am very pleased to see this project proposal. I think suggesting that it will be one of the most significant railway museums in the world is a bit ‘moon shot’, but it could fulfil a useful addition to explaining the past to those living in the future.
    Heritage railways have faced hard times in the last year and I hope this year we will see more visitors, because steam is living entity and is best seen in action.
    I hope that as many of you as possible, will visit the railway where I am a volunteer, and all the other heritage railways and museums throughout the UK.
    Now I think Sir Nigel Gresley’s A4 pacific is a true work of art, so why is it not in the Turner Contemporary?

  4. Excellent idea too have an Heritage site for railway museum
    Would be good to see them in steam on a short line off Museum
    Brilliant to see Bittern Black 5 plus ano Coaches with the Crane on site
    Being a real enthusiast on Steam growing up in Glos. Seeing most of all regions passing through Glos. On summer Sat. Specials
    Having run a Trainspotters club in Stonehouse Glis. For ano years visiting most steam sheds in UK plus Works. My knowledge having seen most engines in uk on my visits
    Plus working on the Cheltenham Spa Express cleaning the Castle at 5am ready for the trip to Paddington each day were I was fortunate to go with the team looking after the fire at Ladbroke Grove terminal ready for the return journey .
    Plus going on the foot plate at Glos LMS to Birmingham with the crew change returning later
    These experiences are never forgotten
    Keep up the good work I reside in Eton my friens live in Deal
    Always interested in Steam
    Paul Bainbridge
    07587 886742

  5. Such great news, and builds on our history and heritage (Hornby).

    Railway fans will travel across the country for things like this so it should attract a whole new crowd of visitors, who will hopefully combine with a night or two in Margate/Broadstairs/Ramsgate!

    Crucially, museums like this can (I think?) operate all year round, not just in the summer.

  6. It’s a great shame we don’t still have the line between Margate and Ramsgate via Westwood it would have tied in well with the train museum well , instead of bringing in the locomotives by road.

  7. Super my son and I will love to come and see the trains he has been in to trains since birth a d we have just started to build a ww2 train layout for him we using the Thanet flyer for the main train as its in Southeasten old green colour so fits in perfectly
    Let us know when it opens and we be their for sure nice to see investment in the local area well done

  8. I think this is great news for Kent and great news for rail fans. It seems this developed out of the idea of a storage place for this rail vehicles – and that is the main point, they are no longer rotting away outdoors as many do awaiting expensive restoration that maybe never comes. Great idea to show them off together. From the author of Britain from the Rails: A Window Gazer’s Guide

Comments are closed.