AN HISTORIC landmark which closed three years ago is set to reopen - but it may not for another five years.

Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman has slammed National Trust for failing to reinstate the birthplace of rail pioneer George Stephenson, in Wylam, after closing it ‘temporarily’ in January 2017.

Mr Opperman said the decision to close the cottage was unacceptable given the profit margins the trust generates nationally on an annual basis.

Following the criticism, the trust’s general manager for Hadrian’s Wall and Tyne Valley portfolio, Andrew Poad, insisted the intention was to reopen the landmark - but a realistic goal would be 2025 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Stockton to Darlington Railway.

Mr Opperman said: “I’m very concerned this Tyne Valley landmark is now in danger of being permanently mothballed by the National Trust, and I’d like a reassurance from the director general this isn’t the case.

“George Stephenson is a celebrated son of this area and someone who made a massive contribution to engineering and industry across the globe.

“It’s simply not good enough for the National Trust to say it hasn’t got the resources to invest in properties like this one when, in 2017, it was running a surplus of over £1 billion.

“I hope children and adults for generations to come will get the chance to see where George Stephenson was born and lived in his childhood, and will have the opportunity to learn about all his achievements in later life.”

In response to Mr Opperman’s comments, Mr Poad had said the trust was looking to develop a village-wide project to tell visitors of the role Wylam played in the development of railways, with pioneers Stephenson and William Hedley born there. This, he said, would make the landmark more appealing to the wider community.

Mr Poad said: “We share the public’s disappointment that falling visitor numbers and rising costs forced the closure of George Stephenson’s Birthplace. We’ve been working with the community in Wylam, the parish council and Tyne Valley Rail Partnership to explore new ways to tell the important story of the role the village played in the evolution of railways in more engaging ways for visitors.”

He continued to say: “2025 marks the 200th anniversary of the Stockton to Darlington Railway and, together with the parish council and other partners, we have agreed this is a realistic and appropriate occasion to aim for in offering this new experience.”