The Stockton & Darlington Railway
1825: Stockton and Darlington Railway
The Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR) 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 Stockton-on-Tees and Darlington, and was officially opened on 27 September 1825. The movement of coal to ships rapidly became a lucrative business, and the line was soon extended to a new port and town at Middlesbrough. Passengers were carried in coaches drawn by horses until carriages hauled by steam locomotives were introduced in 1833.
Coal from the inland mines in County Durham was taken away on packhorses, and then horse and carts as the roads were improved. A canal was proposed by George Dixon in 1767 and again by John Rennie in 1815, but both schemes failed.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 Welsh engineer George Overton was consulted, and he advised building a tramroad. Overton carried out a survey and planned a route from the Etherley and Witton Collieries to Shildon, and then passing to the north of Darlington to reach Stockton. The Scottish engineer Robert Stevenson was said to favour the railway, and the Quaker Edward Pease supported it at a public meeting in Darlington on 13 November 1818, promising a five per cent return on investment.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 covers, it was opposed and defeated by 13 votes.
The opening of the pioneering 40km Stockton and Darlington Railway, the world's first passenger railway.