The Head of Steam Museum, Darlington, 25 May 2018

The Head of Steam Museum in Darlington is situated at North Road Station on the route of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. Although predominantly focussing on the Darlington connections with the line there are still several mentions of ‘the other end of the line’ at Stockton with the star of the show being the original Locomotion steam engine. One of the pieces of artwork on show ‘Service To Industry’ features a huge Deltic locomotive in the sidings at ICI Billingham. Those sidings, although long abandoned well overgrown, and that pipebridge still exist today and can be seen from Haverton Hill Road close to were the car and van scrap yard is now. Interesting too that the railway sleepers at the Darlington end of the line were made from stone yet those at the Stockton end were made of wood!

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

15 thoughts on “The Head of Steam Museum, Darlington, 25 May 2018

  1. Apologies to David Thompson and bad news for those, like Dave Gibson who are wanting to join in with the trips

    The Newcomen Office in London is only looked after on Mondays and Wednesday and the lady who does the Admin would have taken some time to get on to Jonathan Aylen and myself who are doing the organisation for this effort.

    I am sorry to tell you both that the visit has turned out to be far more popular than we anticipated, and all the trips to various locations are full up. What we do have are sets of talks on local industrial history on Thursday evening, 12th July and Saturday morning, 14th July. These are in Middlesbrough. Could these be of interest? If so Picture Stockton will give you my email

    We have also given a recent copy of “Links” to Stockton Library. Links is the house magazine of the Newcomen Society and this issue has an article by me entitled “Geology, Geography and Industrial Initiative in the Making of Teesside” In this I make the point that the Stockton to Darlington Railway was far more important to Middlesbrough than Stockton, and bang the drum for the North Shore Branch of the rival Clarence Railway


  2. David, I have managed to get the Newcomen Society for the Study of Industrial History to come to Teesside in July 2018 for its annual Summer Conference and Tour of historical sites. The Newcomen Society was the first organisation in the world to take an interest in the history of engineering and technology. Although it has visited hundreds of places in Britain and scores of countries, this will be its first visit to the locality, despite the contribution that Teesside has made to industrial progress. The idea for the visit has come from Picture Stockton, which continues to do a grand job, but rather sadly, many places that were ground breaking at the time, have been thoughtlessly demolished.


    • Fred, will the Summer Conference be open to non-members or just to Members of the Newcomen Society, it sounds as though it will be an interesting event.


      • Funnily enough I’ve emailed the Newcomen Society the same question but no reply as yet. Will post their reply here when I do or unless Fred replies?


  3. As far as the BBC goes, the North is Sheffield, Leeds and Bradford. The North East is Newcastle and Sunderland. Teesside is the forgotten bit that falls down the gap between the two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree absolutely Fred. Teesside is a massive urban area, but hardly ever gets a mention in the national press or TV. I have a large collection of railway books covering many aspects of rail operation, loco allocation and general railway interest. There are very few photographs of locomotives taken in Teesside, apart from those taken by the railway historian, the late Ken Hoole. Book after book when showing photographs of locomotives, freight or passenger in the North East locality, show Newcastle, even though the Teesside sheds together had more freight loco’s than Tyneside. Thornaby when built in 1958, was designed to accommodate over two hundred loco’s, and was the last steam depot to be built in this country, yet I can only think of one mention in any of my none shed allocation books. The only description I have is in “North East steam locomotive depot’s” by Paul Bolger, where you would expect it anyway. No other large urban area in the UK is so ignored. I’m mystified why.


    • Yes, I agree… perhaps because we don’t blow our trumpet enough.. the louder we shout – the better we’ll get heard.. if you see what I mean! Not aggressively of course.


  4. A couple of years back I was doing some family history research and the records kept by this museum were a great help. If your ancestors include railwaymen from the north east this is the place to go.


  5. We came to Canada 43 years ago. Started off in Sidney Nova Scotia. We were listening to a radio show and the host asked anyone for interesting facts so, I called in and, since it was the anniversary of the opening of the Stockton to Darlington railway, I told them about it. They broadcast it and the host was very impressed. Won’t forget my roots or the great people who helped build them.


    • If you started off in Nova Scotia where are you now Decca? I came to Ontario 50 years back and kind of remember you, was it Scouts or School. I am sure Picture Stockton would give you my email address


    • They’ve got Stephenson’s Rocket in the Discovery Museum ; and from their website ; “Find out how this historic engine’s ground-breaking design heralded the birth of passenger railways and celebrate the region’s world-famous industrial heritage” .
      They also have the new Newton Aycliffe built Hitachi Azuma train on display in the latest LNER colours. Entry is free and worth a visit if you are up there in the epicentre of the north!


      • I agree the Discovery Museum is an excellent museum having visited it many times however I just feel that the organisers have missed a great opportunity to mention The Stockton and Darlington Railway which paved the way for the Liverpool to Manchester Railway. Why isn’t Locomotion No. 1 there, or the sign about the first station? It seems to me that the Tees Valley has been almost ignored in the Great Exhibition of the North.


  6. Hi, that’s not a Deltic! It’s a class 40! Deltics served on the East Coast line as the first high speed passenger express locos. Great photos, must visit this place, thanks for sharing.


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