Historic importance of Stockton and Darlington Railway could be lost forever, campaigners warn (From The Northern Echo)
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Historic importance of Stockton and Darlington Railway could be lost forever, campaigners warn
THE historic and cultural importance of the world’s first passenger railway is at risk of being lost to the North-East, enthusiasts have warned.
The Friends of Stockton and Darlington Railway has been set up by a group of enthusiasts who claim that the original 1825 line 'has been allowed to decline to the extent that it is as if this world-changing event never happened'.
The friends group, which held its first meeting on Tuesday (October 15) evening, argues that the line has not been properly protected or promoted in recent decades and that opportunities for lucrative heritage tourism are being missed.
The Stockton and Darlington Railway will mark its bicentenary year in 2025.
The Darlington-based friends group said parts of the line running through the town had been obliterated to make way for new developments, in particular the Eastern Transport Corridor.
The group has called for the surviving parts of the line to be properly mapped and signposted to allow people to follow the original route.
Alan Macnab, chairman of the friends group, said: “There is a feeling that more needs to be done to protect the line, which is a major piece of our heritage and the first passenger line in the world.
“The first priority of the friends group will be to raise the profile of the line regionally, nationally and internationally.”
Ahead of the 200th anniversary a multi-agency rail heritage inquiry group for Darlington was set up to discuss plans for potential celebrations, which the friends group has pledged to support.
Mr Macnab added: “We are not in competition with the rail heritage group, we have got to work with it.
“The friends group does not have to target 2025, it would be nice if by then we have a route that is recognised as the original Stockton and Darlington line, that people could walk along it.”
Fred Lawton, another founder member, added: “We think the people of Darlington are interested in this issue and we do not think they are being given the opportunity to develop it, which is why this group is being started.”
The group, which already has dozens of members thanks to a thriving Facebook campaign, is keen that Darlington capitalises on its railway heritage.
It would like to see the slogan ‘birthplace of the railways’ added to signs and promotional literature for the town and fears another place could lay claim to the title.
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