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Exploring Locomotion No. 1

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Locomotion No. 1 has had a rich history in Darlington, with a collection of artwork and artefacts that capture the town's railway heritage.  

Locomotion No. 1

Locomotion No.1 was constructed at the Forth Banks, Newcastle works of Robert Stephenson & Co. A total of four locomotives were built at a price of £600 each. The world-famous engine Locomotion No. 1 hauled the first train on the opening day of the Stockton and Darlington Railway on 27 September 1825.

Delivered by road from Newcastle Locomotion No.1 was first placed on rails at Heighington Station (Aycliffe Lane) ready for the opening day when it hauled a train of 'Chaldron' (a measure of coal) wagons and a coach for the Directors from Shildon, via Darlington, to Stockton at speeds of around 12-15 m.p.h.

Locomotion No.1 suffered from a broken wheel soon after it entered service and an exploded boiler in 1828, killed the driver. The explosion resulted in a complete overhaul at Shildon works, this allowed the locomotive to remain in service until 1841, when it was used by Joseph Pease and Partners Limited as a pumping engine.

By late 1856, its working life over, proposals were made for Locomotion No.1 to be auctioned.  However, the historical importance of the engine was recognised and the locomotive was, instead, restored to working order (with the Pease family donating £50 to its restoration).   In early 1857, Locomotion was placed on a plinth at North Road Station – the world’s first recorded act of railway preservation.

Locomotion No.1 remained here until 1875, when it was removed to be part of the 50th Jubilee celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. This was the first of the many celebrations in which it was to feature.

In 1876, Locomotion No.1 travelled to Philadelphia to be part of the USA’s Centennial exhibition. It then returned to North Road Station for a few years, before going to Newcastle in 1881 for the one-hundredth anniversary of George Stephenson’s birth. The engine was then shown at Chicago in 1883, Liverpool in 1886, Paris in 1889 and Edinburgh in 1890, before returning to North Road Station.

Locomotion No.1 moved again in 1892 when it was taken to Darlington’s Bank Top Station. Derwent, another famous Stockton and Darlington engine joined it on display.

 

In 1924, Locomotion No.1 went to Wembley for the British Empire Exhibition. It was part of the London and North Eastern Railway exhibit, together with the famous ‘Flying Scotsman’. Locomotion No.1 took to the rails again in 1925, but not under its own steam. Powered by a petrol engine, it was part of the Railway Centenary Parade of steam engines that travelled between Stockton and Darlington. After this, Locomotion No.1 was returned to Bank Top.

In 1975, it was moved, with Derwent to the newly opened Darlington Railway Museum. Locomotion No.1 has been on display at North Road Station (Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum) ever since.