Tuesday 24 September 2019

Darlington North Road, 11th September 2019

North Road Station in Darlington is now the Head of Steam Museum, operated by Darlington Borough Council.

Two pictures of what was delivered by George Stephenson as Active, better known as Locomotion No. 1. Stephenson's locomotives were not the most reliable, and the Pease family, who financed the Stockton &Darlington Railway, considered reversion to horses to pull the coal trains. However, it fell to Timothy Hackworth to persuade them otherwise, he repaired the locomotives as Superintendent from 1825 - 1840, and introduced his own designs, the most fundamental of these being Royal George.

After retirement in 1841 Locomotion has been on tour as far as Philadelpia, PA, Chicago, IL and Paris, France. However today it is too fragile, and has been in North Road on display for 44 years.

North Road Station in Darlington, was built in 1842 by the Stockton & Darlington as passenger traffic became more important, to the in-house company design of John Harris, with later upper and end extensions. 

A few hundred yards away from North Road station, this is the Skerne Bridge, over the river of that name, the oldest operational railway bridge in the world. Designed by Ignatius Bonomi (1787 – 1870), the single span bridge is constructed of sandstone and comprises a large central arch with curving wing walls containing smaller pedestrian arches.

The sign from Stainmore Summit is in the museum. I visited the Stainmore Railway at Kirkby Stephen in 2013, although the main line diesels have been moved on, many to Wensleydale, and some now scrapped. The Stainmore Railway erected a replica sign at the summit in 2011.

“Train” (1997) by David Mach, located beside the A66 road, based upon Gresley’s A4. Funded by the National Lottery, Wm Morrison Supermarkets, Northern Arts, Department of National Heritage, Darlington Borough Council and headed by sculptor David Mach the project reputedly cost £760k. At the time of its unveiling in 1997 some questioned the project, and the cost, with one councillor saying Darlington "needed another model train like it needed a hole in the head". However, it is now regarded as a "much loved, landmark".