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The Early Years

Track or Canal?

Building the Line

September 27th 1825

Expanding Dreams

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Stockton and Darlington Railway - The Early Years

Even though the first steam railway service wasn’t opened until 1825, the principals of early railway date back to the 17th century to Blyth in Northumberland. Wagon ways can be dated as far back as 1609 when they were probably used to transport coal from the mines at Bedlington to the coast and the River Blyth.

These early wagon ways were deemed unsuccessful and were closed down by 1614. However, these very early developments must be seen as firm building blocks for the mine owners of Durham and Northumberland who rapidly built an extensive wagon way during the late eighteenth century.

The purpose for these wagon ways was to cheaply and swiftly transport coal to the River Tyne and Wear. Records prove that lines where in existence in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Penshaw and Beamish.

At the turn of the nineteenth century, an engineer called Richard Trevithick built the world’s first steam locomotive (left). The engine was built at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire; however there is no evidence to say this engine ever ran. In 1804, Trevithick built a locomotive for the Penydarren Ironworks in South Wales, which did pull 10 tonnes of iron and 70 men and in 1805, Trevithick built an engine which ran at Wylam Colliery in Gateshead.

Richard Trevithick was born at Camborne in 1771 and more information about this great engineer and inventor can be found at the following website: