Barrow Hill Roundhouse Museum, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Britains only surviving operational Roundhouse Engine Shed
Barrow Hill building and renovation project

In 2016 the Roundhouse was awarded £1.2 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund for its exciting "Moving Forward" project...

The project will allow essential renovation work to be carried out to the Roundhouse whilst retaining its unique working atmosphere. Visitor facilities will be brought up-to-date and new exhibitions will tell the story of this very special building.

The "Moving Forward" project will include the construction of a new cafe, shop and entrance to welcome visitors where they can relax with a drink, snack or meal. This new space will also be available for corporate events and use by local groups.

New exhibitions will inform and entertain visitors while they learn about the Roundhouse and its history. Subjects will include science and engineering and there will be interactive displays for school visits and families.

A comprehensive learning programme is being developed and further details can be found here [create link to Learning page]. There are also plans for family activities during school holidays and on selected weekends [link to What's On page].

For further information on the HLF project please contact

Keep up-to-date with our progress with the updates below.

December Update...

Although the project isn’t complete, it is very satisfying to be able to tick a few things off the list! This is what the team has done to date. All work to the Roundhouse building has been completed, including work to repair the wall cap and install flashing, clean and paint all the roof steelwork and the internal walls and renew the external lime mortar pointing where needed.

The new entrance building is complete, new signage has been installed at the car park entrance and provision for disabled parking has been made in the new car park. The learning and meeting area of the Roundhouse is also finished. The existing blue brick floor has been lifted, underfloor heating installed and the floor replaced. The low ceiling has been removed and replaced with a new higher level ceiling and a projector and screen installed for use by school groups and other meetings. Storage, coat hooks and ‘bag bins’ for schools have been provided. A timeline display depicting the life of the immediate area and the Roundhouse, in relation to historic events, is now in place along with some large black and white images taken from the Roundhouse collection.

The Conservation Workshop space has been tidied, the walls and floors cleaned and equipment and machinery has been made safe so that it works to modern standards. New work benches and equipment have also been purchased and installed. The archive office has been relocated to a separate, larger area and is no longer a part of the collections storage area. The previous combined archive office and collections store has now become a dedicated collections store. The access door and fire door have been closed off and a new connecting door between the work area and collections store and a fire exit from the work area have been created. Roller racking has been installed in the collections store which has quadrupled the shelf space and a temperature control heating and cooling unit installed. An addition grant from Museum Development East Midlands has enabled the collection team to relocate objects into boxed storage creating higher standard of individual object storage.

Apart from some small, post installation snagging items, the interpretative displays are now all in place. The displays are mix of traditional text and photo graphic panels, manual interactive displays, audio visual displays, audio installations, object display cases and touchscreens. A small amount of work is still needed during the winter period to address some teething problems. Observation of the use of the exhibitions shows a high level of user engagement. The learning room and the café’s use as a meeting space has already proved very popular. The facility has been successful in attracting organisations to use the venue, including the Derbyshire Museums Forum, Chesterfield Champions, East Midlands Trains and Museum Development East Midlands.

A variety of family and learning activities has begun. The Heritage Skills Training Programme has successfully engaged students from Chesterfield College, Barrow Hill volunteers and members of the general public in working with lime mortar pointing for the brickwork as reported in the last Newsletter. Community projects with Community Growth CIC have been undertaken and are in progress, successfully engaging members of the local community of all ages with their heritage. Students from Springwell College have undertaken a project to create a film based on the themes from the Roundhouse. Students have also taken part in a project to create sound collages with the Artists in Residence, Kidology. Kidology have successfully obtained external funding from the Arts Council to deliver a wider range of art activity throughout the period of the project. During the October half term they delivered a series of activities as part of the national ‘Big Draw’ initiative. The project, Carbon Capture, encouraged children to create pictures using different types of carbon such as coal, charcoal and candles to create images inspired by the Roundhouse.

Sheffield Hallam University performing arts students developed scripts to be used by volunteers to deliver costumed interpretation to visitors at the Roundhouse. The University has also delivered STEM sessions with Hollingwood School programming basic computer interactives themed on the Roundhouse. These activities have been funded under the Museum University Partnership Initiative. The ultimate goal is to produce interactive displays at the Roundhouse. So not a bad start to a three-year project and here’s to the next two years! Happy Christmas!

September Update...

In the Roundhouse, the roof steels have all been treated and painted and the walls have also received a coat of paint. The new entrance building is complete and the glazed walls and roof show off the original brick window and arches just as well as we’d planned. At the time of writing the kitchen equipment is being fitted. After a final clear up the new furniture will arrive in time for the September relaunch.

The blue brick floor of the old eating area has now been re-laid on top of an underfloor heating system. This will be much warmer on the feet for our visitors than the old overhead gas powered heating system! Of course our coal fires will also be burning again when winter arrives. This area has also been upgraded with a new lighting system to enhance the exhibitions that will soon adorn the walls. In the Foreman’s office the three windows have been restored back to their original Midland Railway style. This area will form the start of the new visitor interpretation trail around the site.

The new exhibitions are nearly complete and will tell the fascinating story of the site as well as including fun interactives for children. In addition, the new ‘learning coach’ is getting ready to host school trips and family days with its new flooring and will soon have a polish with some lighting and audio equipment for fun activities. As well as the new toilets in the entrance extension, the existing Roundhouse toilets have also had a full refurbishment. In addition to all of this, we have had some volunteers and members of the public join us on our free heritage training days, where they have been trained to repoint the walls of the Roundhouse, joining students from Chesterfield College in learning this fantastic new skill.

The refurbishment of the engineering workshop as part of the HLF project has also been completed. It was undertaken by Jon Pridmore and is going to be a very useful asset to the site. On behalf of Barrow Hill Roundhouse Jon will be hosting external workshop training courses as well as training our own volunteers.

June Update...

We haven't done an update for a few months but there has been plenty going on!

The Roundhouse is now fully repainted and was enjoyed by thousands of people at our annual Rail Ale Festival.

We are also ramping up the excitement for our relaunch in September and the new family and schools programme that will go with it. The new exhibition is in progress and will tell the fascinating story of the site as well as including fun interactives for children. In addition, the new 'learning coach' is getting ready to host school trips and family days with its new flooring and will soon have a polish with some lighting and audio equipment for fun activities.

We have had 3 of the original windows restored back to their Midland Railway style and the cafe is almost completely finished! Glazing is being fitted as we speak with the underfloor heating in progress. In addition to all of this, we have even had some volunteers and members of the public join us on our free heritage training days, where they have been trained to repoint the walls of the Roundhouse, joining students from Chesterfield College in learning this fantastic new skill.

Our next family day will be the 22nd and 23rd July when we will host some professional archaeologists for a fun few days lookng at finds from the nearby Staveley dig and learning about our upcoming dig on the car park.

June updateBulding renovations at Barrow HillHLF Project UpdateLottery update at Barrow HillJune updatebarrow Hill Roundhouse project update

March Update...

This month, the cafe is really coming along and half of the Roundhouse has been repainted!

We are really starting to see a huge change where we used to have our small cafe block. The contractors recently filled the foundations with cement - it was very entertaining to watch as it was sprayed out of the huge tube. This will give the new cafe its foundations. At the same time, they set in place a new drain in the centre of the adjacent rail. This should stop the flooding that we have occasionally experienced during beer festivals and other events.

The cafe will be glass sided, allowing the original features of the old building to remain visible. We want to ensure that the arched windows and brickwork can still be appreciated alongside the new building. The steelwork which will support the new glass structure has also now been erected, so we are starting to see the shape and size of our new, larger cafe.

In the Roundhouse, the walls in one half of the building have been completely repainted to their original standard. This has allowed the space to become lighter and seem more spacious - also enabling a better view of the engines inside, whilst keeping the authentic atmosphere. The steel work has also been painted a light grey - watching the painters hang off the cherry picker certainly made us feel very nervous!

Dave and Dale have been busy shunting engines across to the other side of the Roundhouse so that the rest can be painted.

February Update...

The capital work began on site in the New Year. Our contractors have made a brilliant start as you can see!

This started with the demolition of the old kitchen extension, witnessed by Bill and Ellen who have worked in the café for the past 16 years. They will be presented with a brand new facility once the works have finished.

The contractors have also completed a huge section of repointing on the external walls facing our platform. The interior ceilings have been taken down to reveal some fantastic wooden beams which will be included in the new rooms.

The original brick floor is being carefully taken up in the eating area to be replaced after under floor heating is installed. Our learning programme is currently being planned and designed ready for schools to book onto in the coming months.

Keep your eyes peeled for some training opportunities in repointing in the spring!

February Update

Entry by donation.
Charges apply on special event days.
Cafe available for food and refreshments.
Please visit our shop selling railway memorabilia and souvenirs.

Our opening hours are Saturdays and Sundays 10.00am-4.00pm. Closed Monday to Friday, including Bank Holidays.

There is a diversion in place due to a road closure at Junction 29a of the M1; this will add approximately 10 minutes to your journey time if you use this route to reach the Roundhouse. This diversion will be in place until 31st March 2015.