12. Jun, 2021


SATURDAY 12-06-21

We slept well again last night waking at 05:30 to the dulcet tones of the pigeons in the tree above us and the cockerel crowing just down the road. As I was awake early I finished off last night's post as it became hard work after two pints of 'Shipwreck' beer.

This morning we travelled about eight miles to 'Locomotion' a railway museum which is affiliated to the Railway Museum at York. Our timed booking was 11:00. The museum is 'free', but try booking the tickets online without making a donation if you can. Once parked up I placed the folding 60W solar panel on the dashboard, this helped us a few days ago to stay 'off grid' for four days.

So a bit about Shildon:


The volume of coal being produced by coal mining in the Shildon area outstripped the capacity of the traditional method of transporting coal, on horse-drawn wagon ways. Steam power was introduced through the use of static steam engines. These were, in turn, were superseded by steam locomotives. Coal would be pulled by static engines over Brusselton Incline into Shildon where the wagons would be attached to a locomotive.


The population grew with this industrial expansion, the population rising from 115 in 1821, to 2,631 in 1841 up to 11,759 by the end of the century. Records show in 1851 the town had 447 houses that were inhabited and 26 uninhabited.


Demand led to a passenger service beginning from the town on 27 September 1825. The first train, Locomotion No 1 began its journey outside the Mason's Arms Public house. There is an argument that the Mason's Arms could be classified as the world's first railway station. In the early stages of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, tickets were sold at the bar. Between 1833 and 1841 the company hired a room in the pub for use as a booking office.


The railway ran from its northern terminus at Shildon along 27 miles of track to its terminus at Stockton. In 1838 the speed of travel was noted by The Derby Mercury which reported that a servant asked permission to travel to Shildon from Stockton on Christmas Day. She made her request "a little before four in the afternoon" and was able to return home "by seven o'clock the same evening".


A strike in 1911 saw violent scenes in the town and British troops deployed to maintain order. A driver of a mineral train was stoned and dragged from his engine. He was pursued by an angry mob and had to be rescued by soldiers. Mineral wagons had their bottom doors undone and the contents allowed to fall out. Wagons in the sidings had their brakes undone and freewheeled for miles, railway signal cables were damaged and the cavalry had to be called. At one stage soldiers had to mount a bayonet charge to clear a bridge. The New Shildon Strike Committee condemned the government for deploying the army and called for their withdrawal.


Moving further into the 20th Century the Shildon Works became the largest wagon works in the world by 1976, employing 2,600 people. The works built 1,000 wagons a year and repaired more besides. The 27 miles of sidings made Shildon home to what was believed to be the largest sidings in the world. This was until the construction of the Chicago marshalling yards in 1927.


There were concerns for the future of the railway works in the 1930s. The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) Company had decided to concentrate their operations to Darlington.


As a consequence the Soho works lay derelict from the 1940s and were scheduled for demolition in the 1970s when many of the buildings fell into disrepair. However, the buildings were saved when they were restored and opened to the public as part of the Timothy Hackworth Museum. The museum was opened on Thursday 17 July 1975 by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.


Locomotion, incorporating the existing Timothy Hackworth Museum and part of the National Railway Museum in York, was opened on Friday 22 October 2004. The museum was opened by the Prime Minister of the time Tony Blair.


In January 2018, the site welcomed its 2,500,000th visitor.


The museum wasn't as big as I thought and I must confess it didn't take my breath away, but we are heading north and passing fairly close to it so it seemed a shame not to take a look at it.

Trying to take photographs proved problematic as the lighting was bad, and the trains and coaches etc were on tracks that were close to one another, but never mind, all I can say is it killed a bit of time. I'll probably post one of two pictures I've lifted from the internet and add them after mine. From Locomotion we made our way back to the Bishop Auckland shopping complex which we visited yesterday. The original plan was for us to go there tomorrow morning before heading north, but agreed it would be easier to get the shopping done today. Loaded up we made our way back here to The Green Tree in Tudhoe village, County Durham.

Tonight there are three motorhomes in the car park, and having again visited the restaurant we're now holed up indoors watching some TV. So all in all, a bit of a disappointing sort of day.

Tomorrow we drive further up the A1 to our most northerly point, Beal, just south of Berwick-upon-Tweed just south of the Scottish border. The weather is forecast to be hot and sunny which will be nice as we're not enjoying such lovely weather as they're enjoying down south, most of the time we've had cloud and sunshine all day with a fresh breeze on many of those days. So if it's a good as they forecast we'll try and get up there in good time and get to relax in our reclining chairs outside.