IT has been really great to see the Stockton & Darlington Railway being talked about in Parliament and in Hear All Sides recently, just as it is also really good to see the very real improvements being made to the surviving S&DR infrastructure on the ground.

Darlington’s Skerne Bridge and the Brusselton incline have taken impressive strides forward recently, thanks to the joint efforts of councils working with volunteers and enthusiasts.

There does now seem to be a growing awareness of the importance and the potential of the S&DR as it approaches its 200th anniversary in 2025, and it is great to see that the Tees Valley Combined Authority, itself a partnership between councils and businesses, is now leading the way in the planning of a suitable anniversary celebration.

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And this must be the way ahead: the whole area pulling together and working together. The original line was 26 miles long, from Witton Park in the west through Shildon and Darlington to Stockton in the east, and then, a little later, the communities from Middlesbrough round to Saltburn also developed an intimate connection.

Just as we all had a stake in its past so we all have an interest in its future, and we hope the whole area will work together to preserve what is left and to commemorate the 200th anniversary.

Trish Pemberton, chair, Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway