Stockton and Darlington Railway
The Stockton and Darlington Railway was a railway company that operated in north-east England from 1825 to 1863. The world’s first public railway to use steam locomotives, its first line connected collieries near Shildon with Darlington and Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham. The company was taken over by the North Eastern Railway in 1863.
About Stockton and Darlington Railway in brief
The Stockton and Darlington Railway was a railway company that operated in north-east England from 1825 to 1863. The world’s first public railway to use steam locomotives, its first line connected collieries near Shildon with Darlington and Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham. The company was taken over by the North Eastern Railway in 1863, transferring 200 route miles of line and about 160 locomotive. The opening of the S&DR was seen as proof of the effectiveness of steam railways and its anniversary was celebrated in 1875, 1925 and 1975. Much of the original route is now served by the Tees Valley Line, operated by Northern. The railway was unopposed this time, but the bill nearly failed to enter the committee stage as the required four-fifths of shares had not been sold. Approximately two-thirds of the shares were sold locally, and the rest were bought by Quakers nationally. A private bill was presented to Parliament in March 1819, but as the route passed through Earl of Eldon’s estate and one of the Earl of Darlington’s fox coverts, it was opposed and defeated by 13 votes. The Act that royal assent allowed for a railway that could be used by anyone with suit built on 19 April 1821. This new railway initiated the construction of more railway lines, causing significant developments in railway mapping and manufacturing, iron and steel manufacturing, as well as in any other industries requiring more efficient transportation.
On 12 May 1821 the shareholders appointed Thomas Meellyn as chairman and Jonathan Backhouse as treasurer; Thomas Richardson as managing cartier of Killingworth colliery. The majority of the shareholders then met to meet in Darlington to meet him in 1821, and he asked George Stephenson, an experienced enginewright, about Overton’s competence. Overton surveyed a new line that avoided Darlington’s estate and agreement was reached with Eldon, but another application was deferred early in 1820, as the death of King George III had made it unlikely a bill would pass that parliamentary year. A few years later a canal was proposed on a route that bypassed Darlington and Yarm, and a meeting was held in Yarm to oppose the route. The promoters lodged a bill on 30 September 1820 to build the railway, the route having changed again as agreement hadn’t been reached with Viscount Barrington about the line passing over his land. It was opened on 27 September 1825 and was soon extended to a new port at Middlesbrough. While coal waggons were hauled by steam locomotive from the start, passengers were carried in coaches drawn by horses until carriages were introduced in 1833. At the beginning of the 1860s it took over railways that had crossed the Pennines to join the West Coast Main Line at Tebay and Clifton, near Penrith. It continued to operate independently as the Darlington Section until 1876.