Locomotion No 1  0-4-0  Stockton & Darlington Railway George Stephenson

Power Classification
DesignerGeorge Stephenson
CompanyStockton & Darlington Railway
Weight6t 10cwt
Driving Wheels4ft 0ins
Boiler Pressure50psi
Cylinders9½in x 24in
Tractive Effort2,050lbf
Valve GearGab

George Stephenson’s celebrated engine for the Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR), was built at Newcastle upon Tyne in 1825 at a cost of £600. It was initially named Active.

George Stephenson was appointed as engine-wright at Killingworth Colliery in 1812 and immediately improved the haulage of the coal from the mine using fixed engines. But he had taken an interest in Blenkinsop’s engines in Leeds and Blackett’s experiments at Wylam colliery, where he had been born. By 1814 he persuaded the lessees of the colliery to fund a “travelling engine” which first ran on 25 July. By experiment he confirmed Blackett’s observation that the friction of the wheels was sufficient on an iron railway without cogs but still used a cogwheel system in transmitting power to the wheels. By 28 February 1815 Stephenson had made enough improvements to file a patent with the overseer of the colliery, Ralph Dodds. This specified direct communication between cylinder and wheels using a ball and socket joint. The drive wheels were connected by chains, which were abandoned after a few years in favour of direct connections. All of the improvements that George Stephenson had pioneered in the Killingworth locomotives were used on the design for Locomotion.

Locomotion used high-pressure steam from a centre-flue boiler, with a steam-blast in the chimney, to drive two vertical cylinders, enclosed within the boiler. A pair of yokes above them transmitted the power downwards, through pairs of connecting rods. It made use of a loose eccentric valve gear, and was the first locomotive to use coupling rods to link its the driving wheels together, rather than through a chain or gears. Because of the single flu, it had a poor heating surface compared to later steam locomotives.

It was not of course, by any means the first steam locomotive, the honour of building must go to Richard Trevithick, who in 1804 had constructed the first engine to run on rails. Stephenson himself had moreover previously built ten engines for colliery work, and there were others, but Locomotion was the first to operate on a public passenger carrying line.

The S&DR was built to carry coal from Witton Park colliery near Darlington to the dockside staithes in Stockton on Tees. The financial backing unusually came from an association of the Society of Friends (also known as Quakers) and in particular from the Pease family of Darlington. They approached an engineer from Wylam, in Northumberland, who had made a name in colliery railways. He had also built steam locomotives, most notably for the Hetton Colliery Company. This of course was George Stephenson.

On 27th September 1825 Locomotion hauled the first train on the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR) which was the first public railway in the world to convey goods and passengers using steam traction. The first train consisted of six trucks filled with coal, a further six loaded wagons, a passenger coach and twenty-one trucks crowded with people. Stephenson was driving Locomotion and he managed to get the speed up to 8mph.  A fuller account of the first train on 27th September 1825 is reproduced below.

Locomotion can also lay claim to have been the first steam locomotive to be have been built commercially by a commercial locomotive builder (as opposed to locomotives built by collieries or general engineers in earlier years).

Stephenson built a further three engines for the S&DR.

The locomotive was built as a 0-4-0 but converted to a 0-6-0 during the 1930s before being restored to a 0-4-0 by 1840. After this it spent several years on loan as a colliery pumping engine before being restored at Shildon Works in 1857.

Locomotion and put on display in Alfred Kitching’s workshop near Hopetown Carriage Works from 1857 to the 1880s. From 1892 to 1975 it was on display along with Derwent on one of the platforms at Darlington’s Bank Top station.

Locomotion is now on display at the Darlington Railway Centre and Museum, located in the same building as Darlington’s North Road station. It is on long-term loan from the National Railway Museum as it forms part of the National Collection.

In early 2020 the National Railway Museum announced that they intended to move the engine to the Locomotion Museum at Shildon in 2021 and that this would then become its permanent home.

It is understandable that the people of Darlington regard the locomotive as belonging to the town where it ran and was placed on a plinth in 1857. The National Railway Museum involvement came very many years later and the proposed move of the locomotive to Shildon has not been well received in Darlington.

The locomotive moved to Shildon in March 2021 following agreement between the National railway Museum and the Darlington Borough Council over the future use of Locomotion No 1. Under the agreement the engine will spend six months at the Heads of Steam at Darlington in 2025 which is the bicentenary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. The deal also allows for a further two loans to Darlington, totalling 12 months between 2026 and 2030. There are further opportunities for the agreement to go beyond 2030 for up to two periods of 12 months or one period of 24 months, in each five-year period.  

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Locomotion, NRM ShildonOn static displayNational Railway Museum NRM Object Number{1978-7010}

There is also a modern working replica of Locomotion at the Beamish Museum. The replica was constructed for the Stockton & Darlington Railway 150th Anniversary Celebrations of 1975. After the event the engine moved to Beamish Museum its home ever since.

In April 2021 it was reported that the replica was going to move to the Head of Steam Museum at Darlington to replace the original which had moved to Locomotion at Shildon. Consideration is being given to restoring the replica to steam in order to take part in the 200th anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 2025.

The First Train on 27th September 1825.

On the appointed day the engine, Locomotive No.1, was getting up steam at the foot of the incline at Brusselton near West Auckland, nine miles from Darlington. There, in front of a large crowd, its train was attached. This was composed of the tender with coal and water, five wagons laden with coal and passengers, one wagon laden with flour and passengers, one wagons carrying surveyors and engineers, and the first passenger coach in the world called “The Experiment”. This was for the use of the Proprietors and the Committee. Attached to “The Experiment” were six wagons with strangers seated, fourteen wagons with workmen and others standing, and finally, six wagons of coal and passengers.

“The Experiment” had only arrived the day before the opening so the railwaymen viewed it with interest. It was a long coach with a table down the centre accommodating sixteen to eighteen people.

That day every railwayman proudly wore a little blue ribbon bow in his buttonhole. Those men who were directly responsible for the control of the train wore a wide blue sash over their right shoulder. From early morning excited people converged on Brusselton incline from all over the district to see the wonderful “Iron Horse”. They came walking, on horseback, in post chaises, gigs, jaunting cars, wagons and carts. Three hundred tickets had been distributed and everyone having one was supposed to know where he should ride, but when the prospective passengers saw the huge crowd they began to fear they would be left behind and they panicked and rushed on to the wagons. The demand for tickets had been so great that it was impossible to accommodate everyone, so from Brusselton to Darlington, wagons drawn by horses were put on the rails and followed in the rear of the train.

Just before commencing the journey the safety valve was opened and the noise so startled the onlookers that they fled for their lives, as they thought the boiler was going to burst. Eventually, with George Stephenson and his associates driving, Timothy Hackworth acting as guard and a man with a wide blue sash between each wagon ready to apply the brakes, it was time for the journey to commence. There was a moment’s amazed silence as the train, with all its trucks, started to move and then cheer upon cheer from the excited crowd.

There were three delays, which lasted fifty-five minutes on the way to Darlington and by the time the train arrived it had taken two hours to do nine miles. Once Darlington was reached the last six wagons containing coal were uncoupled and their contents distributed to the poor. The passengers who lighted had their places taken by people wishing to go to Stockton and it was finally reckoned that they must have been between six or seven hundred people on the train, riding, hanging on, and scrambling over the coals in their excitement. Once again the number of people wishing to ride on the train exceeded the number who could be accommodated. So extra wagons were put on the rails and drawn by Mr. Lancaster’s blind bay pony who became something of a celebrity, for the game little animal put its nose over the last wagon of the train and kept up with it all the way to Stockton. Twice the trains stopped to fill its water tank but on the ceremonial run there were no mishaps.

When the railway engine was running alongside the turnpike road from Yarm near Potato Hall it happened, by chance, to come up with the stage coach going to Stockton. The coach was drawn by four horses and carried sixteen passengers. They ran side by side for a while then the Iron Horse, pulling nearly seven hundred people, outdistanced the coach. The new form of transport had triumphed.

When Locomotive No.1 and her train arrived at Stockton at a quarter past three, a roar greeted them from seven guns on the Company’s wharf. Mr. Meynell’s Band of Music from Yarm, which had accompanied the train, played “God Save the King” and then marched to the High Street followed by a great crowd. There, the men with the wide blue sashes were allocated to the various public houses for a fine meal. The proprietors and their guests, who numbered one hundred and two, had a gala dinner in the Town Hall and Mr. Lanchester unyoked his splendid little bay, who from then on was to became famous, and took him to stables for a well earned rest.

After Stephenson had run the first passenger train between Stockton and Darlington, it is generally supposed that the steam engine ran daily between the two towns. However, this was not the case as far as passenger traffic was concerned. The solitary railway coach, which had no springs, was drawn on the line by one horse for over ten years. The coach, which had been built in the shape of a stagecoach, had flanged wheels. It started near the bottom of the yard of the Black Lion Inn and accommodated four passengers outside and eight inside and traveled at about eight miles an hour on a line which had passing places every quarter of a mile. The fare was 1/- which either the guard or the engine driver collected.

The directors of the company were mainly concerned with carrying merchandise and the greater proportion of the traffic was in wagons of fifty three hundredweight drawn by horses, six to eight wagons forming a load. When the wind was favourable, a sail was hoisted to help the horse and a bogey called a “dandy cart” was attached to the back of a line of wagons. When there was an incline, the horse was unharnessed and put into the dandy cart. Here, he enjoyed a ride and feed from the fodder in the tough provided until the wagon came on to flat ground, when he descend and once again resume his work. One of these dandy carts has been preserved and is now in the Railway Museum at York. On January 24th 1826 the Tees Coal Company commenced loading the “Adamant” with the first shipment of coal for London. Towed by the steam tug “Albion” she left the Tees on the 26th accompanied by a band and the cheers of all the townsfolk, who lined the banks of the river in their hundreds to watch her departure.

Locomotion at Darlington Bank Top Station - October 1974.jpg
Locomotion at Darlington Bank Top Station – October 1974
Locomotion replica at the Stockton & Darlington 150th anniversary cavalcade – August 1975
Locomotion replica at Beamish – 1977
Locomotion replica at Beamish – July 1979
Locomotion replica at Beamish – September 1984
Locomotion replica at Orton Mere on the Nene Valley Railway for Peterborough Rail 150 event – June 1995
Locomotion replica at Beamish – August 2009
Locomotion replica at Beamist – April 2014
Locomotion at Darlington Hreads of Steam Museum – June 2017
Locomotion in the Locomotion Museum at Shildon – August 2019
Locomotion in front of Hetton Colliery Lyon at Locomotion, Shildon – July 2021
Locomotion at Locomotion Shildon – July 2021

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