THIS ARTICLE was originally published in The Globe, December 2020. It is about George Stephenson of the Stockton and Darlington Railway – but not the man you first think of. This George was also a Northumbrian who rose from humble rural beginnings and was celebrated for his work for the Company. His misfortune was to share a name with the world’s most famous engineer, leading to a continuing confusion of identity.
We don’t restrict ourselves to Mr Stephenson’s biography, however – fascinating though it is. We probe his much-repeated words to understand the Company’s attitude to alcohol and shed light on other parts of the Railway’s history. Finally, we propose an inexpensive solution to the identity muddle that would enhance the experience of visitors and the knowledge of townspeople of Darlington’s historic railway quarter.