It was believed that this locomotive was built in 1826 by Robert Stephenson & Co. It is thought to have carried the name Billy at some time but there are no confirming details.
A report produced, by early railway experts Michael Bailey and Peter Davidson, in 2018 of an archaeological survey carried out on the locomotive concludes that it was built in 1816 rather than 1826. This makes it the third oldest and the oldest standard gauge locomotive surviving in the world. Although none of Billy’s surviving components can be traced back to 1816, it has features that, despite being later replacements, provide a clear footprint of the original; primarily it retains the same standard track gauge set by George Stephenson at that time, and also the distance between the two cylinders and the axles presents a unique identifier.
Billy was initially fabricated and assembled at Killingworth Colliery’s West Moor workshops under the supervision of George Stephenson
It ran on the Killingworth Wagonway, Springwell & Jarrow line which brought coal to the Tyne from collieries south of Gateshead until 1881 (with a rebuild in 1867). A section of the line it worked on is now preserved as the Bowness Railway at Springwell Village near Washington, Tyne and Wear.
The engine was used in the George Stephenson Centenary of 1881 before being presented to the City of Newcastle upon Tyne by Sir Charles Mark Palmer.
It was placed on a pedestal on the north end of the High Level Bridge over the River Tyne until about 1896, when it was moved to a platform at Central station. In 1945 it was transferred to the Municipal Museum in Newcastle.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|Stephenson Railway Museum at North Shields||On static display||City of Newcastle upon Tyne|
|Billy at the Stephenson Railway Mauseum – June 2017|