The Bicentenary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway
On the 27th September, 1825, large crowds saw George Stephenson at the controls of the Locomotion No 1, slowly move forward, pulling twelve wagons of coal and flour, fourteen wagons full of workmen, and six wagons of guests, including those lucky enough to ride in ‘The Experiment’ the world’s first purpose built railway passenger coach. Locomotion didn’t just pull one single train on that day, but symbolically pulled the world into the mass transport era of the railway age. Here on 26 miles of track between Witton Park Colliery and the coal staithes at Stockton all in the historic county of Durham, engineering excellence and inspiration came together with entrepreneurial foresight and belief to create the world’s first steam powered public passenger railway, one from which all others would take inspiration and spread across the globe.
Such was the pride of the people of the North-East and all England in the importance of the S&DR that at 50, 100 and 150 years after 1825, the opportunity to celebrate this gift to the world has been celebrated with processions, fairs, gatherings of locomotives and exhibitions. From major celebratory events to specially cast medals these anniversaries have been marked with great spectacle. In 2025 the S&DR will be 200 years old and the Friends of the S&DR want to ensure that local communities and visitors from around the world can visit and appreciate the surviving monuments, buildings and track bed of the line, and to play our part amongst the greater family of S&DR supporters in making sure 2025 is the best party yet!