Stockton and Darlington Railway locomotives

Resource Type: Image | Posted on 7th November 2011 by Liam Physick

This page from Locomotives of the World shows two locomotives used on the Stockton and Darlington Railway. The Stockton and Darlington opened on 27th September 1825, and was the world’s first railway. It connected Witton Park and Stockton-on-Tees via Darlington, and connected to collieries near Shildon. Its purpose was to carry coal from inland collieries to Stockton, where it would be loaded onto ships. Originally, it was intended to use horses, but George Stephenson persuaded Edward Pease, owner of the Railway, to allow the use of steam power: Stephenson demonstrated the Blucher, his first locomotive, to an impressed Pease. It was initially to service this railway that Robert Stephenson and Company, which would later build the Rocket, was set up. Its gauge of four feet eight and a half inches was intended to accomodate horse-drawn wagons - this later became the standard gauge. Horses at first dominated, but gradually gave way to steam locomotives, which, despite being more expensive, could haul more wagons and do so faster than a horse: by 1833, the Railway had become entirely steam-operated. The advent of steam also led to the establishment of the first railway timetable, found to be necessary as different train operators (the Railway Company did not own the trains, only the tracks, similar to the system on canals) clashed over right of way, and, being faster, steam traction meant there was more chance of a collision. Gradually, the Railway came to own the rolling stock as well as the tracks, double tracks were built for trains travelling in opposite directions, and signalling was established to prevent collision. An experimental passenger service was also established, though initially these trains were only hauled by horses. Its success and innovations paved the way for subsequent railways, like the Liverpool and Manchester, and in particular secured Stephenson’s position as engineer for the later railway: to built it, he used the expertise he had gained in railway and locomotive construction on the earlier line. In 1863, the Stockton and Darlington Railway was absorbed by the North Eastern Railway (though it remained operationally independent for the next 10 years), which in turn was later merged into the London and North Eastern Railway. Locomotion No. 1, initially called Active, was the first locomotive to run on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, driven by Stephenson and pulling a train of coal trucks on the Railway’s opening day. Based on Stephenson’s colliery locomotives, it used a 0-4-0 wheel formation, and was one of the first locomotives to use coupling rods rather than chains or gears. It was able to haul 90 tons between six and eight miles per hour. In 1828, its boiler exploded, killing the driver, and it was rebuilt by Timothy Hackworth (later the designer of the Sans Pareil): a third boiler was later added. The Locomotion was soon rendered obsolete by the rapid pace of locomotive development, but it continued to work until 1841, and, in acknowledgement of its historical importance, would head ceremonial processions whenever the Company opened new lines. After 1841, it was used as a pumping engine by Joseph Pease and Partners. In 1857, the Locomotion was placed on a pedestal in front of Darlington’s North Road station: it was moved in 1892 to Bank Top, Darlington’s main station, and in 1975 to the Darlington Railway Centre and Museum, where it remains today on long-term loan from the National Railway Museum. Also in 1975, a replica was used to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, and is now at the Beamish Museum. The Royal George, a 0-6-0 engine, was the first goods locomotive to be built in Britain, and it remained the standard design for such engines for many years to come. The most powerful locomotive of its day, it was built by Hackworth, and altered from a previous engine of the Puffing Billy type that he had designed. It had more than double the heating surface of the Locomotion, and used six wheels rather than four. It was the first locomotive to have a reduced opening to the blast pipe, thus improving the draught: the Rocket, and all subsequent steam locomotives, would use this design. Hackworth also adapted a system devised by Robert Stephenson of transferring some exhaust steam to heat a cistern containing the feed water, to deal with the problem of the cooling effects of cold water in the boiler. The 0-6-0 design continued to be the standard wheel arrangement for goods engines well into the twentieth century, and it limited damage to the rails by spreading the weight distribution more evenly. Despite criticism over its slow speed, the Royal George served the Railway for 13 years from October 1827 as its No. 5: it was stable and reliable, and speed was not a requirement nor even desirable on a line whose main function was the hauling of heavy services and where there was initially only a single track. On 26th December 1840, it was sold to the Wingate Colliery Company, where it remained in service for a few years before being sold to the Earl of Durham

Stockton and Darlington Railway locomotives

Tagged under: steam locomotives, liverpool and manchester railway, tender locomotives, rocket, wagons, goods, passengers, freight, george stephenson, trucks

Categorised under: Landmarks, Landscapes & Locomotives

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