AN online exhibition tells the story of the region through the iconic items that show it has been a hub of creativity and innovation for centuries.

A History of the North in 100 Objects is a website-based project illustrating the pioneering spirit and impact of the North of England’s inventors, artists, scientists and designers.

The website, launched today, is part of this summer’s Great Exhibition of the North, funded by the National Lottery and developed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM).

Gallery and museum staff picked 100 items to tell inspiring tales from the creation of railways and social reform to important inventions and the arts.

Among the items is Timothy Hackworth’s steam locomotive San Pareil from Locomotion National Railway Museum at Shildon.

LS Lowry’s painting The Old Town Hall and St Hilda’s Church, Middlesbrough depicts the area now known as Middlehaven in 1959 and is one of the items submitted by MIMA.

And Darlington’s rail museum Head of Steam submitted landscape artist John Dobbin’s painting Opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, 1825.

The picture is thought to have been painted from memory for the 50th anniversary of the opening, which was the first time a steam locomotive had been used to pull fare-paying passengers on a public railway.

TWAM director Iain Watson said: “The North of England is a hub of creativity and innovation. It’s where railways were born, it’s been home to some of our most creative inventors and now it’s a hub of scientific and industrial innovation. “These 100 objects, selected by, and displayed in, museums across Northern England reflect some of these stories. “We won’t have everyone’s favourite object, but hope people will think about what objects tell stories they recognise as representing the North to them.”

The interactive website explores travel and transport, art and design, work and industry, religion and faith, inventions and innovations, sport and leisure, music and entertainment, landscape and natural history, politics and protest and words and literature.

Visitors can search for objects by location, time period, size or theme and are invited to curate their own exhibition by saving up to ten objects to share on social media and the most popular collection will feature on the website, which will stay live for the foreseeable future.

Ivor Crowther, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East which gave more than £800,000 towards TWAM’s participation in Great Exhibition of the North, said: “Choosing 100 objects to tell the story of the North of England must have been incredibly hard, there are so many fascinating collections to choose from.”

He said the initiative gives people across the world the chance to see objects they never would have been able to otherwise and build their own collections of the stories that inspire them.