Barrow Hill Roundhouse
Barrow Hill Roundhouse is the last surviving railway roundhouse in the United Kingdom with an operational turntable. Built in 1870, it was threatened with demolition in 1991 when the site was closed by British Rail. It was saved by a group of dedicated volunteers who have transformed it into a premier railway venue.
In March 2016 the Roundhouse was awarded £1.2 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund with the aim of broadening the Roundhouse audience to include families, a range of learners, the local community and corporate use. This was done through essential conservation repairs, a visible and accessible entrance and bringing the site to life with new interpretation.
The Roundhouse is open to the general public on Saturdays and Sundays between March and December. It is also the venue for several major events every year, including the hugely popular Rail Ale Music & Drink Festival, and attracts over 25,000 visitors a year. Further details of forthcoming events can be found at www.barrowhill.org. As well as the turntable and unique sheer legs (lifting gear), it has a changing display of steam and diesel locomotives and other rolling stock, a collection of artefacts and memorabilia, and an operational signal box and short running line. The Roundhouse is an Accredited Museum under Arts Council England’s UK Museum Accreditation Scheme. The site is also home to the Deltic Preservation Society.
The site is connected to the national railway network, and this has encouraged several commercial rail companies to base their activities at Barrow Hill, generating over 60 jobs and making a valuable contribution to the local economy. Clients include Harry Needle Railroad Company, East Midlands Railway, Rampart, Network Rail, DRS, Freightliner, GBRf, Colas, West Coast Railways, Northern Belle, NewRail (railway research facility affiliated to Newcastle University), TCL and Pindari.
With good rail and road connections, a large car park and on-site catering, the Roundhouse is a popular choice for railway industry demonstrations and product launches. It regularly features on both national and regional television programmes. It is also an interesting and different venue for corporate away days.
“The Roundhouse is an intrinsic part of the industrial and social history of Chesterfield and continues to play an important part in the Chesterfield story,” says Mervyn Allcock, General Manager at Barrow Hill Roundhouse. “We are very proud to be a Chesterfield Champion and support the promotion of Chesterfield!”