Thomas MacNay

People Of The S&DR

Thomas MacNay was the S&DR’s secretary 1849-69 and company director of South Durham Ironworks on the Blackwell Estate along with H. Pease, J. B .Pease, and A. Kitching. (see Holmes 1975, 64)

However, his career with the S&DR started with a more humble position. Born at Wallsend, he was apprenticed to Hawthorn’s Engineering Works at Newcastle. MacNay joined the S&DR in October 1832. Initially employed on trial as a storeman, he went on to become the company’s draughtsman and accountant. He was appointed Secretary of the S&DR in 1849. Self-educated, he was instrumental in the creation of the staff’s Railway Institute in Shildon and the most vocal proponent of Shildon’s first library.

After spells as the Secretary of the Auckland and Weardale, Wear Valley and Middlesbrough branches of the NER, he ended his days as Secretary of the Railway’s Darlington branch.

One of his most significant contributions to rail safety was to introduce the block signalling system across the network, which prevented two trains entering the same section at any one time. (Source: George Smith2019 A Railway History of New Shildon)

MacNay Street just off North Road and on the approach to the station there is named after him.