National Railway Museum Shildon

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Shildon Locomotion Museum
Locomotion - - 157996.jpg
The exterior of the main exhibition hall
Established September 2004 (2004-September)
Location Shildon
Coordinates 54°37′27″N 1°37′50″W / 54.6243°N 1.6306°W / 54.6243; -1.6306
Type Railway museum Railway
Transport museum Transportation
Collection Museum Commodity
Children's museum Children
Open-air museum
Visitors 203,000 (April 2012-March 2013)
Director George Muirhead
Public transit access Shildon railway station
Website Museum Website

National Railway Museum Shildon, also known as Locomotion: the National Railway Museum at Shildon or Shildon Locomotion Museum is a railway museum in Shildon, County Durham, England. The museum is a branch of the National Railway Museum (NRM), which is part of the Science Museum Group.[1] Shildon acts as an annex, with important exhibits on display in the NRM's headquarters at York, though major exhibits are regularly rotated.


The museum was opened on 22 October 2004 by Prime Minister Tony Blair.[2] Built at a cost of £11.3 million, it is based on the former "Timothy Hackworth Victorian Railway Museum". The museum is operated in partnership with Durham County Council and was expected to bring 60,000 visitors a year to the small town. However, during its first six months, the museum attracted 94,000 visits. In the 12 months to March 2013, the museum had 230,000 visitors.[3] NRM Shildon was shortlisted as one of the final five contenders in the Gulbenkian Prize, which is the largest arts prize in the United Kingdom.


The museum is sited near Timothy Hackworth's Soho Works on the world's first passenger railway, the Stockton and Darlington Railway (opened on 27 September 1825 with a train hauled by Locomotion No 1 which took 2 hours to complete the 12-mile journey from Shildon to Darlington). The town was to become a major centre for British railway engineering thanks to the Shildon wagon works, which closed in 1984.[4]

Shildon station, on the Tees Valley Line was rebuilt and modernised as part of the museum's construction and is actually situated adjacent to the trail and demonstration rail line through the museum site. It is served by all services on the line, operated by Northern.

Museum landmarks[edit]

The museum is arranged as stops along the 1 km demonstration line with station direction board signs and information points on the trail between the car parks and the main collection building. The museum has a six-spur apron in front of the main shed and another short length of track for showing off resident locomotives and visiting trains.

The trail starts at the 19th-century welcome building. The original Sans Pareil is on display here. The second building is Timothy Hackworth's house.[5] It contains several activities about the history of Shildon. Soho is a stone building that was a railway workshop, having originally been an iron merchant’s store. The fourth stop is the former goods shed for the town, with most incoming and outgoing goods being delivered to the railway by horse and cart. The building is built partially from recycled stone sleeper blocks, the old fixing slots being visible in the wall.[6]

As private vehicles are not allowed beyond here for the 750-yard journey to the Collection a courtesy link bus, the Eco Bus, runs from near here on its 15-minute sequence. The railway station's parcel office is the next part of the trail and at the junction, visible across the tracks are the former stables for the early horse-drawn wagonways that linked to the line. The coal drops were a refuelling point for steam locomotives. Wagons were hauled up an incline and the coal 'dropped' down wooden chutes into the tender below.[7][8] The light engine is an interactive pole that displays colours. You can change the name of the pole if you text in.

The trail passes under the roadway, and the Eco Bus route crosses on to the museum's rail line for a short distance. There is a children's playground for children and a picnics outside the Collection building. The trail ends at the largest building in the museum. It contains the exhibition hall and a conservation workshop with viewing gallery to see the work carried out by volunteers restoring some of the exhibits. Other facilities in the building include interactive games, a cafe and shop.

Locomotion landmarks
Hackworth's cottage 
Soho workshop 
Goods shed 
Coal drops 
Engine Shed interior 

Eco bus[edit]

The eco bus is a courtesy coach that runs between the Goods shed and the Collection, leaving the buildings every 15 minutes. It runs from 10:30, its final return trip leaving the "Collection" at 16:30 (summer) and 15:30 (winter).


The museum is home to several locomotives from the National Collection, including a replica of Timothy Hackworth's Sans Pareil. The original engine, built to compete in the Rainhill Trials, is also at Shildon. The trials were to decide which engine should operate the passenger railway between Liverpool and Manchester. After a 175 years absence from the town, the locomotive was returned and is displayed in the Welcome building.[9] LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard which is usually displayed in the NRM's York museum was temporarily displayed in the museum from June 2010 to July 2011.[10] In 2014, ahead of the 75th anniversary celebrations for Mallard’s setting the world steam speed record, 8,000 visitors turned up to welcome five sister A4 locomotives including 60008 "Dwight D Eisenhower" and 60010 "Dominion of Canada" that were repatriated from North America, the latter was given a cosmetic overhaul in Shildon's workshop.

The main exhibition building houses most of the collection and includes the sole examples of the prototype APT-E and Deltic units.[11] The museum has a wind turbine which provides power to the National Grid and an on-site biodiesel bus for transporting visitors around the site without harming the environment.

Locomotion: selected exhibits
LSWR T3 class No. 563 
Snow plough (1891) 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Science Museum Group - About us" (aspx). Science Museum Group. Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  2. ^ "Prime Minister opens Shildon Locomotion museum" The Railway Magazine issue 1244 December 2004 page 5
  3. ^ Opening Minds Securing Our Futures Annual Review 2012-13, Science Museum Group, London, 2013 p75.
  4. ^ Coulls 2012, p. 3
  5. ^ Coulls 2012, p. 27
  6. ^ Coulls 2012, p. 38
  7. ^ Coulls 2012, p. 5
  8. ^ Coulls 2012, p. 23
  9. ^ Coulls 2012, p. 5
  10. ^ Coulls 2012, p. 18
  11. ^ Coulls 2012, p. 52


  • Coulls, Anthony (1 February 2012), Spirit of Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon, Series: Spirit of Britain, Halsgrove, ISBN 978-0-85710-064-1.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°37′27″N 1°37′50″W / 54.6243°N 1.6306°W / 54.6243; -1.6306