Stockton and Darlington Railway: bicentenary celebrations unveiled

STEAM train journeys, exhibitions and parades are among the events planned to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

Some of the festivities planned to mark the bicentenary of the birth of the modern railway, which is due to be celebrated in 2025, have been unveiled.

There are plans to recreate the maiden voyage from Witton Park, County Durham, via Shildon and Darlington to Stockton using the Locomotion No. 1 replica, as well as to run a regular steam shuttle between Stockton and Shildon and d to use historic locomotives in place of modern vehicles on certain scheduled services.

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Work has already been underway for several years to ensure that the milestone is marked in the region.

The scheme, which will cost between £1.3m and £1.9m, is being developed by the S&DR Railway Heritage Partnership, which includes the councils of Stockton, Darlington and Durham, the Tees Valley Combined Authority and the National Railway Museum, Historic England, Network Rail and Friends of Stockton and Darlington Railway.

The plans will be discussed, along with the finances, by the Stockton Council cabinet next week.

Niall Hammond, Chairman of the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, said: “In 1825 the Stockton and Darlington Railway launched a worldwide economic revolution by using the inspiration and ingenuity of the people of the North East to develop world-leading skills and experience. the latest technology of the day.

“Building on this fantastic legacy, we hope that the S&DR will not only provide the driving force for a momentous year of bicentennial events in 2025, but also establish a legacy of real value to the community, l education and the economy of the region that will last for many years.

“After many years of hard work by all project partners, the Friends are thrilled and delighted to see real enthusiasm, funding and commitment being put into making the most of our internationally significant heritage.”

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It is hoped that royalty will attend some of the festivities when arriving on the royal train.

One of the highlights of the program will be the recreation of the maiden voyage, which could be broadcast in real time to a global audience, according to a report due to be considered by Stockton Council’s cabinet next week.

It also outlines plans for a regular steam shuttle service between Stockton and Shildon, stopping at Darlington and crossing Skerne Bridge, as well as regular trains changing over to historic steam with locomotives like Tornado, Prince of Wales or Flying Scotsman replacing their modern units. .

A collection of over 30 vintage locomotives, including some from the National Railway Museum or built by Robert Stephenson & Co, will be brought together in linked exhibits at multiple sites with the option of building a temporary ‘engine shed’ at Stockton to display some of the engines alongside those from Shildon and Darlington.

It is hoped that there will be dozens of mini-carnivals, parades and celebrations in communities along the 26-mile line, and a program of outdoor theatre, visual arts and events will also be produced.

Stockton Council’s cabinet is due to discuss the proposals at a meeting on January 20.

Councilor Jim Beall, Cabinet Member for Health, Leisure and Culture, said: ‘I am pleased and proud to be part of the board that has crafted these exciting and ambitious plans for 2025, which will inspire communities locals and visitors from everywhere.

“We look forward to continuing our preparations alongside the range of partners involved in this exciting project.”

Mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, said: “The Stockton & Darlington Railway has helped put our region on the map, shaping the world through its innovation and our rich railway heritage deserves justifiable applause. . That’s why I backed the scheme, including the Darlington Railway Heritage District, with £21m in funding.

“These extensive plans, touching every part of the 26-mile line, will help educate, inspire and entertain, and give us a whole calendar of events, exhibits and engagements to look forward to after a difficult few years.

“More than that, it will no doubt stimulate visitors keen to learn our history and see the historic locomotives on display, in turn supporting our other brilliant businesses. This is a celebration of national, indeed international significance, and we are ready to deliver.

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