A chance to support railway heritage

The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway were formed in 2013 to take forward ambitious plans to conserve and promote the 1825 line in the lead up to the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the opening of the railway in 2025.
While the development of the modern railway can be traced to a number of places, it was the S&DR where the engineering excellence of Stephenson and Hackworth came together with the economic foresight of Edward Pease and the business community of South West Durham and the Tees Valley to create the first modern railway. In the period 1825-30 the S&DR demonstrated that steam locomotive hauled railways were a viable proposition and ushered in the railway age which changed the face of the world.
The 1823 Act of Parliament allowing the line to be built was clear that this was a public railway which from its inception was to carry not just coal but passengers and goods on a permanent mainline with branches. Innovative technology, financing through shareholders linked to each other through family and faith and the inspiration and model it provided for others mark it out as the place where the modern railway age was born.
Recent survey work by the Friends of the S&DR has shown that much of the original line and its buildings still survives, some of it abandoned, some still in use as a railway. It does however need substantial conservation work and above all interpretation to tell its story to a local and international audience.
The Friends’ vision is to establish a walking and cycling rail trail using the route of the 1825 S&DR from Witton Park to Stockton on Tees. This would ensure that the physical remains of the S&DR are protected, recognised and conserved and also allow a key part of the nation’s heritage to be accessible and interpreted, bringing economic and health benefits to the region and beyond. As part of this the Friends are discussing with Historic England enhanced protection through listing and scheduling and exploring the case for World Heritage Site status to reflect the impact this ‘birthplace of the modern railway’, had on the world.
More information is available on the Friends website http://www.sdr1825.co.uk/
Or at their Facebook page; where notice of regular meetings and events can be found. https://www.facebook.com/groups/304912612980375/. The Friends hold a regular monthly meeting on the first Thursday of the month, 7:10 pm, usually at Darlington Cricket Club, Feethams. Email info@sdr1825.co.uk for information.