Locomotion No. 1

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Coordinates: 54°32′10″N 1°33′18″W / 54.536°N 1.555°W / 54.536; -1.555

Locomotion No. 1
Stockton & Darlington Railway 0-4-0 No. 1 'Locomotion' (1825) Head of Steam, Darlington 30.06.2009 P6300119 (10192855826).jpg
Locomotion at Darlington Railway Centre and Museum
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
BuilderRobert Stephenson and Company
Build date1825
 • Whyte0-4-0
Driver dia.48 in (1.219 m)
Loco weight6.5 long tons (7.3 short tons; 6.6 t)
Fuel typeCoke[1]
Fuel capacity2,200 lb or 1,000 kg or 1.00 t
Water cap.240 imp gal or 290 US gal or 1,100 L[2]
Boiler pressure50 psi (0.34 MPa)[3]
Heating surface60 sq ft (5.57 m2)
Cylinder size9 in × 24 in (229 mm × 610 mm)[2]
Performance figures
Maximum speed15 mph (24 km/h)[4]
Tractive effort1,900 lbf (8.5 kN)
OperatorsStockton and Darlington
First run27 September 1825
Dispositionstatic display at Locomotion, Shildon

Locomotion No. 1 (originally named Active) is an early steam locomotive that was built in 1825 by the pioneering railway engineers George and Robert Stephenson at their manufacturing firm, Robert Stephenson and Company. It became the first steam locomotive to haul a passenger-carrying train on a public railway, the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR).

Locomotion No. 1 was ordered by the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company in September 1824; its design benefitted from George Stephenson's experience building his series of Killingworth locomotives. It is believed that Locomotion No. 1 was the first locomotive to make use of coupling rods to link together its driving wheels, reducing the chance of the wheels slipping on the iron rails. However, the centre-flue boiler proved to be a weakness, providing for a poor heating surface compared to later multi-flue boilers.

In September 1825, Locomotion No. 1 hauled the first train on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, and became the first locomotive to run on a public railway. On 1 July 1828, it was heavily damaged when its boiler exploded at Aycliffe Lane station, resulting in the death of its driver, John Cree. It was rebuilt but, as a consequence of the rapid advances in locomotive design, Locomotion No. 1 became obsolete within a decade. It was used on the railway until 1850, after which it was converted into a stationary engine. In 1857, as a consequence of its historical importance, Locomotion No. 1 was preserved and put on display. Between 1892 and 1975, it was on static display at one of the platforms at Darlington Bank Top railway station, and was then on display at the Head of Steam museum based at Darlington North Road railway station between 1975 and 2021. It is presently at the Locomotion museum in Shildon. A working replica of Locomotion has also been built and following years of operation at Beamish Museum is now on display at the Head of Steam museum.



On 23 June 1823, the pioneering locomotive manufacturer Robert Stephenson and Company was established by the railway engineers George Stephenson and his son Robert Stephenson, and the businessmen Edward Pease and Thomas Richardson.[5] In November of that year, only months after the company started operations, a key order was placed by the Stockton & Darlington Railway Company for four stationary engines.[citation needed]

On 16 September 1824, the S&DR ordered a pair of steam locomotives, at a price of £550 (about £46,810 today) each. This order was historically important as the first of these locomotives, Active (later renamed Locomotion No. 1), was the first steam locomotive to haul a passenger train on a public railway.[6][page needed]


The No. 1 engine, called Locomotion, for the Stockton & Darlington Railway

The design of Locomotion combined and built on the improvements that George Stephenson had incorporated in his Killingworth locomotives. The locomotive weighed 6.6 tonnes, with many elements, including the boiler, cylinders and wheels, composed of cast iron, although the frame was timber. There were four 4 feet (1.2 m) diameter driving wheels.[2]

Locomotion No. 1 used high-pressure (50 psi) steam generated in a centre-flue boiler and driving a pair of vertical cylinders, 9 inches (230 mm) in diameter, which were half embedded within the boiler.[2] The boiler had a blastpipe in the chimney. The single flue boiler had a low heating surface-to-water ratio compared to later boiler designs. The maximum speed of Locomotion No. 1 was about 15 mph (24 km/h).[4] A pair of cross-heads above the cylinders transmitted the power through a pair of coupling rods, making use of a loose eccentric valve gear.[7] Locomotion No. 1 is believed to have been the first locomotive to use coupling rods to connect its driving wheels together, an approach which considerably decreased the chance of slipping.[8][page needed]

According to author H. C. Casserley, Locomotion No. 1 is most notable for being the first locomotive to haul a passenger train on a public railway than for the innovations in its design.[9]


The completed Locomotion No.1 was transported by road from Newcastle to Darlington in September 1825.[10] On 26 September, the day before the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the locomotive was taken on a trial run between Shildon and Darlington, with a number of the railway's directors aboard the railway's first passenger coach, known as ‘’Experiment’’.[6][page needed] The driver, who had to perch on a small platform beside the boiler, was James Stephenson, the elder brother to George Stephenson; the fireman, William Gowling, stood on a footplate between the engine and the tender.[10]

On 27 September 1825, Locomotion No.1 hauled the first train on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, driven by George Stephenson.[8][page needed] The train consisted of Locomotion No.1, eleven wagons of coal, the carriage ‘’Experiment’’, and a further 20 wagons of passengers, guests, and workmen. Around 300 tickets had been sold but about twice as many people were believed to have been aboard. The train, which had an estimated weight of 80 tonnes was about 400 feet (120 m) long, reached a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour (19 km/h)), and took two hours to complete the first 8.7 miles (14.0 km) of the journey to Darlington, but was slowed by a derailed wagon and a blocked feed pump valve, thus only achieving an average speed of 8 miles per hour (13 km/h).[6][page needed]

Darlington Football Club badge

Locomotion No. 1 continued to haul trains on the S&DR for three years. On 1 July 1828, the locomotive was heavily damaged when the boiler exploded while the train was stopped at Aycliffe Lane station, resulting in the death of the driver, John Cree, and the wounding of water pumper, Edward Turnbull.[11] Cree had tied down the arm of a safety valve, which caused the boiler pressure to rise to the point of explosion.[10]

Locomotion No. 1 was rebuilt and returned to service and ran until 1850.[2] On 4 June 1846, it hauled the opening train on the Middlesbrough and Redcar Railway, a subsidiary of the S&DR.[12]

Following its withdrawal, Locomotion was purchased by Joseph Pease and Partners, converted into a stationary pumping engine for use at their West Collieries in South Durham, where it was used until 1857.[2]


Locomotion 1 is such an important part of Darlington's history that it is depicted on the town's coat of arms,[13] and on the badges of its football and rugby clubs.[14]


In 1856, Joseph Pease and his family spent £50 to restore the S&DR Company's Locomotion No. 1, saving it from the scrapyard when its working life had ended;[15] it was one of the first locomotives to be restored for preservation.

Between 1857 and the 1880s, it was usually on the pedestal display at Alfred Kitching's workshop near the Hopetown Carriage Works. It was on exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, Newcastle in 1881, Chicago in 1883, Liverpool in 1886, Newcastle in 1887, Paris in 1889, Edinburgh in 1890. Locomotion No.1 was steamed for the Stockton and Darlington Railway's Golden Jubilee in September 1875, as well as to participate in a procession of locomotives at the George Stephenson Centenary, in June 1881.[10] Locomotion always returned to its static display in Darlington,[15] the headquarters of the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company.

From 1892 to 1975, Locomotion was on static display along with Derwent, another early locomotive, on one of the platforms overlooking the S&DR line to Saltburn-by-the-Sea at Darlington's main station Bank Top. During 1924, it was cosmetically restored. During the Second World War, it was temporarily relocated (at Stanhope) due to the threat of bombing.[10] In 1975 Darlington built its railway museum around Locomotion No. 1.[15]

As ownership of the railways changed, the locomotive became a British Rail historic item, all of which were transferred as the National Collection in 1968 to the National Railway Museum (NRM), now part of the Science Museum Group (SMG). The locomotive, as its ownership changed, remained in Darlington from 1857, in later years on display at the Head of Steam museum in Darlington, in the same building as Darlington's North Road station.[14] From 1975, it was formally on loan by the NRM to Head of Steam. The loan agreement expired in March 2021, after which the locomotive was moved to the NRM's outpost museum in Shildon, itself named Locomotion.[16] Some in Darlington objected to the move, as the locomotive had resided in Darlington since preservation, and is depicted on the town's coat of arms and on the badges of its football and rugby clubs, and so it is claimed by some that the locomotive is only owned by the NRM due to an accident of history.[14] An agreement was reached between Darlington Borough Council and the Science Museum Group which will see Locomotion return to Darlington for extended visits in the lead-up to the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 2025.[17]

As the original locomotive is too fragile to return to steam, a working replica was built in 1975, and was resident at Beamish Museum.[18] After a period on display at the Locomotion museum, it moved to Head of Steam in April 2021, replacing the original.[19] Originally only at Darlington on loan from Beamish, ownership of the replica was transferred to Darlington Borough Council, which will see the replica returned to service in time for the S&D's 200th anniversary.[20][21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ross, David (2004). British steam railways. Bath: Parragon. p. 15.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "The Origin and Progress of Steam Locomotion". The Engineering News. McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. 2: 143–146. 1875.
  3. ^ Casserley, H.C. (1960). Historic locomotive pocket book. London: Batsford. p. 7.
  4. ^ a b "Locomotion No. 1, George Stephenson and the world's first public railway".
  5. ^ Stretton, Clement E. (June 1897). "Early Engines of Stephenson and Company". The Railway World.
  6. ^ a b c Bowes, Alderman (1883). George Stephenson, the Locomotive and the First Public Railway: A Lecture Delivered at the Salford Royal Museum and Library. John Heywood.[page needed]
  7. ^ The British railway locomotive 1803–1850. London: Science Museum. 1958. p. 11.
  8. ^ a b Hamilton, Ray (10 May 2018). For the Love of Trains: A Celebration of the World's Railways. Summersdale Publishers Ltd.[page needed]
  9. ^ Casserley, H.C. (1976). Preserved locomotives (4th ed.). London: Ian Allan. p. 16. ISBN 071100725X.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Locomotion No.1, Stockton & Darlington Railway". engineering-timelines.com. Archived from the original on 19 June 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  11. ^ Hewison, Christian H. (1983). Locomotive Boiler Explosions. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. p. 26. ISBN 0715383051.
  12. ^ "News". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 57. 1925.
  13. ^ "Coat of arms (crest) of Darlington". Heraldry wiki. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  14. ^ a b c Mistlin, Alex (15 February 2021). "Rival railway museums in row over steam locomotive ownership". The Guardian.
  15. ^ a b c Chris Lloyd (September 2020). "Let's Keep our Railway Heritage on Track!" (PDF). One Darlington. One Darlington Partnership. p. 21.
  16. ^ "WATCH: Locomotion No 1 arrives in Shildon". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  17. ^ "Science Museum Group and Darlington Borough Council agree future plans for Locomotion No. 1". Locomotion. Science Museum Group. 5 March 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  18. ^ Satow, F. (1976). Locomotion : concept to creation : the story of the reproduction, 1973-1975. Locomotion Trust. OCLC 504762380.
  19. ^ Lloyd, Chris (11 March 2021). "Darlington to have replica Locomotion No 1 on display". The Northern Echo. Newsquest Media Group. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  20. ^ "Decision - Locomotion No 1 and Replica". Darlington Borough Council. 17 April 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  21. ^ Jarman, Paul (6 May 2021). "T&I News 9 2021..." Beamish Transport Online. Retrieved 10 June 2021.

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