TODAY at 11am, the Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway launch the first of six guided works which, when complete, will cover nearly the length of the line.

The first walk covers Shildon, and starts at the old end of the Locomotion museum.

There has never been a better day to embark on the walk than today because the town is opening up to celebrate the arrival of Flying Scotsman. There'll be bands to hear, exhibits to see, places to visit and, probably, somewhere along the way, cake to eat.

So either join the Friends at the Timothy Hackworth end of the museum or take the special bus into town or simply meander with Memories to find out what is on…

1. Timothy Hackworth's house

When the Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR) opened in 1825, Hackworth was Superintendent of Permanent and Locomotive Engines in charge of keeping the railway's engines on the move. New Shildon was the logical place for him to be based as it was where the moveable engines began their work after the stationary engines had hauled the coal wagons up and down the south Durham hills.

When the railway arrived, New Shildon was an empty "damp, dreary and unpromising site". Old Shildon, which was on drier, higher land, and had a population of just 115.

Hackworth lived in the New Shildon house from 1831 until his death of typhus on July 7, 1850. Since 1975, the house has been a little museum dedicated to him, but it now needs work doing to it.

2. Hackworth Park

Stroll up to Old Shildon through Hackworth Park, which joins the two communities. The park opened as a green lung for the thousands of railwaymen who had made their homes in the new terraces on September 20, 1912, and it was dedicated to Hackworth in 1925 during the S&DR's centenary celebrations.

From 2pm to 4pm, the mayor of Shildon, Cllr Trish Pemberton, is putting on a Tea in the Park starring the Durham Police Brass Band.

The band will undoubtedly be great, but Memories believes the highlight of the park is the Grade II listed ornate cast iron fountain. Created by Walter Macfarlane's Saracen foundry in Glasgow, it says it was "presented to the inhabitants of Shildon by the members of the Old Shildon Workmens' Club, November 1914".

It is covered in dragons and herons and even Hackworth's most famous locomotive, Royal George, and must be the most spectacular piece of municipal ironwork in south Durham.

3. Former HSBC building

THE bank closed on October 12, 2012, and is now in domestic use. It is a great little building, built in 1899 by the York City and County Bank to the designs of the York architectural practice of Brierley and Rutherford. This was headed by Walter Brierley who is known as "the Yorkshire Lutyens". He designed more than 300 buildings across North Yorkshire, including County Hall, Northallerton.

The City and County Bank amalgamated with the London Joint Stock Bank in 1909 which joined Midland in 1918.

4. St John's Church

THE church opened on June 29, 1834, as a response to the exploding population of Shildon. It was rebuilt in 1882 although its tower was not completed until 1902.

From 10am to 4pm today, the church is full of exhibitions – one tells more fully of its history, another tells of Shildon's history. The Brusselton Incline Group are telling of their work, the Middleton Hall Photography Group are showing what the S&DR looks like today, John Wigston is exhibiting his railway art, and there is railway-themed knitting from the Knitters and Knatters Group.

There's an exhibition about Timothy Hackworth by his great-great-grand-daughter, Jane Hackworth-Young – plus, outside in the churchyard, is his grave beneath an elaborate plinth.

Also on display in the church is the rarely-seen National Union of Railwaymen's banner that was created for the 1984 campaign to Save the Shildon Wagonworks. We believe that the former Bishop Auckland MP, Derek Foster, who led the campaign is visiting today to see the banner.

5. Town Square

OUTSIDE the church is the newly refurbished square – it only reopened last weekend. Throughout the day, there are children's performers, plus the Lanchester Brass Band. There is also a cycle challenge to pedal the 392 miles of Flying Scotsman's London to Edinburgh route – but this is a combined effort, open to everyone.

In the Sid Chaplin Library, the Auckland Railways Group is putting on an exhibition. The library was opened in 1987, and named after the Durham mining writer who had died the year before. It was needed because the previous library, in Hall Garth, had fallen down.

6. Daniel Adamson's Coach House

YOU could meander back through the park, or you could walk down Main Street to the coach house, which is recognisable to almost everyone from any angle – we had a great response to our photo a couple of weeks ago when we failed to recognise it.

Mr Adamson was landlord of the Grey Horse over the road from which he organised horsedrawn coach trips on the S&DR after it opened in 1825. In this distinctive building, he kept his coaches – this may even claim to be the first passenger railway station in the world!

Since its appearance here, several people have contacted Memories to express disappointment that it is once again looking rather shabby.

7. Mason's Arms

AFTER a healthy stroll down Byerley Road, past Timothy Hackworth School, you reach a pub which is now called The Crossings.

On your right, hidden in the trees, is an old signal that marks the entrance to the wagon works which, in their peak in the 1950s, employed 2,800 men who repaired or modified 510 wagons a week – 25,000 a year. The works covered 58 acres, contained 20 miles of track and, despite the campaign, closed on June 29, 1984.

The Mason's greatest claim to fame is that on September 27, 1825, it witnessed history: on the opening day of the S&DR, Locomotion No 1 started its journey from outside its door. The coal wagons were lowered down the Brusselton Incline by a stationary engine, attached to Locomotion, and off they went with hundreds of curious locals clinging to the sides and thousands more watching on in horror as they thought that giant kettle on wheels would explode and kill them all.

The Mason's may even be the world's first railway station. Railway tickets were sold over its bar in those early days, and by 1833, the railway company had hired a room as a booking office, which was operational until 1841.

It is believed that the world's first railway clock was placed on a wall of a house opposite the pub.

Sadly, the clock (and the house) are long gone, and the Mason's has been rebuilt several times, but this is a spot of true history.

If you've got time, a climb up to see the brilliant work done by the Brusselton Incline Restoration Group is very worthwhile.

If not, follow the original S&DR trackbed down Station Street and back into the old end of the museum.

There is lots more to see in Shildon, which is probably the world's first railway town. The full guided walk will soon be available on the Friends of the S&DR's website,