The Stockton & Darlington Railway

The railway that got the world on track

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The Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR) was formally opened on the 27th September 1825.

It marked a significant milestone in the development of the modern railway network.

Whilst some of its operations were still developing after 1825, the Stockton & Darlington Railway proved to be “the great theatre of railway operations”, lighting the fuse for the explosive expansion of railways across the world and a second wave of the industrial revolution.

The opening day painted by John Dobbin in 1875. Dobbin attended the opening day in 1825 when he was ten years old. The train is passing over the Skerne Bridge in Darlington, hauled by Locomotion No.1. The passenger coach Experiment can be seen amongst the waggons. Photo: Darlington Borough Council

The world would never be the same again

The Friends of the S&DR

The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway are a group of people who care deeply about the railway heritage of the North East of England and want to see the Stockton and Darlington Railway receive the recognition and the protection it deserves as the start of the modern railway network from which all modern railways across the world developed. Read more about the ‘Friends’ and how you can help preserve our railway heritage.

Learn about the work of the Friends here

Countdown to the Bicentenary


Countdown to the bicentenary.  On the 27th September 2025 the world will mark the bicentenary of the railway that got the world on track.  The Friends of the S&DR will be at the forefront of the celebrations.

SDR200 Logo

The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway are proud to be supporting the three local authorities covering the route of the Stockton & Darlington Railway; Darlington Borough Council, Durham County Council and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, with the Tees Valley Combined Authority, to deliver a range of local, national and international partners to bring you a year-long programme of celebration throughout 2025.

For information about the festival and celebrations, as well as the small grants scheme for community events please visit the official festival web site at: S&DR Bicentenary Festival 2025 – Stockton and Darlington Railway (

You can also email for all festival enquiries

By Railroad Era, is meant the era commencing with the permanent and successful use of the locomotive on the Stockton & Darlington Railroad, in England, in the year 1825, that has seen within less than sixty years, the iron track laid in so many lands, on which locomotives are performing their great work in the transportation and freight.” 

(Horatio Allen: The Railroad Era 1884 (recollecting his 1828 visit)

The History of the S&DR

Plan of the S&D Railway

Why is the Stockton & Darlington Railway so important?

No other place in the world can showcase the place where the modern railway was born.

Much of the line is now disused, although 19km is still live railway line – conveniently linking the two main railway museum attractions in Shildon and Darlington. All parts of the line still retain some structures such as culverts, bridges, cuttings and embankments. Many but not all are protected and only some have public access. The 1825 line was designated as a Heritage Action Zone