PLANS are underway to celebrate the bicentenary of an early steam locomotive build in the North-East.

Puffing Billy, developed by William Hedley, was used to transport coal from Wylam Colliery to Lemington Staithes on the River Tyne. The locomotive was built in 1813-14 and worked for nearly 50 years on the waggonway and still survives today.

A fully operational, working replica was built and launched by Beamish Museum in County Durham in 2005.

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Community groups and organisations are invited to a presentation at 7pm on Wednesday, January 16 at Walbottle Campus on Hexham Road in Newcastle to learn more plans for the Puffing Billy Festival taking place throughout 2013.

A spokesman for Beamish said: “Early steam engines like Puffing Billy were the cutting edge technology of the period, being the first commercial steam locomotives working on the adhesion principle. “They helped pave the way for the future development of modern railways across the world.”