Locomotion No.1 to be Moved from Head of Steam to Locomotion Museum: A Statement from the Friends

On the proposal by the National Railway Museum to move Locomotion No.1 from Darlington to Shildon; A Statement by The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. 

Locomotion No.1 is one of the most recognisable and historically important early steam locomotives in the world and as such deserves a suitably appropriate and inspiring home to present it to the public. We are supportive and encouraging of the plans of both the National Railway Museum at Shildon and of Darlington Borough Council at North Road to invest substantial sums of money in improving both venues and telling the story of the S&DR, early railways and the importance of local railway communities in this inspiring tale. Outline plans for both sites suggest either could provide a suitable home for Locomotion No.1 with free public access. 

We are however disappointed that so far both museums appear to have been considering their own sites and developments separately and not how best Locomotion No.1, and indeed other railway artefacts, can be best shared by both institutions to tell the story of the S&DR and early railways along the whole line. Such a cooperative approach would be to the greater benefit of the local communities of Shildon and Darlington, and perhaps more importantly to the significant number of visitors from outside the region and around the world we seek to attract in 2025 and the years after. 

The Friends urge the NRM and Darlington Council to engage in a dialogue to consider how best the NRM at Shildon and North Road Museum in Darlington can play a partnership role in telling the pioneering story of the S&DR and early railways with a sharing of artefacts including No.1. The successful future of both museums and the economic and cultural benefits they can bring depends on mutual support, not competition. The Friends of the S&DR have an interest in conservation and access to the full 26 miles and as such trust that these two key sites will, through negotiation, come to an acceptable decision which takes into account not only technical museum questions of preservation but also how best to tell our internationally important story and reflect history and civic pride, factors which are outside a purely museum discussion and require a wider partnership perspective. The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway were formed in 2013 and became a registered charity in 2018. Our key aims are to work with partners along the original 26 miles of line opened in 1825 and which ushered in the modern railway age, and to take forward ambitious plans to conserve and promote the railway in the lead up to the celebrations of the 200th anniversary in 2025 and beyond, In particular, we seek to foster cooperative working in research, access and interpretation to ensure the whole story of the S&DR is told in partnership

Locomotion No.1 is one of the most recognisable and historically important early steam locomotives in the world and as such deserves a suitably appropriate and inspiring home to present it to the public. The Friends of the S&DR have as a key objective the conservation of the structures, archives and artefacts of the S&DR and Locomotion No.1 ranks as one of the most important of these. We trust that any decision on a site for the engine will be made in consultation with all the partners along the 26 miles of the 1825 line currently working constructively together to make the bicentenary in 2025 a memorable event and create a lasting legacy.