A PROJECT designed to commemorate and celebrate milestones in the North-East’s rich railway heritage needs public support to keep its onward journey on track.

As the region approaches the 200th anniversary of the initial journey made on the world’s first passenger railway, a programme of schemes, programmes and events are being planned to mark the occasion.

The Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR) was officially opened on September 27, 1825, becoming the first public railway to use steam locomotives. The first of the S&DR lines connected collieries near Shildon with Stockton and Darlington.

The bicentenary of the first S&DR journey will take place in September 2025, with a dedicated Railway Heritage Programme and Board being established to boost historic interest and conservation alongside garnering potential economic growth.

The board includes partners such as Tees Valley Combined Authority, Darlington Borough Council, Durham County Council, Stockton Borough Council, A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, National Railway Museum, LNER, Network Rail, Northern Rail, Historic England and the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

A spokesman for the Railway Heritage Programme said: “One key aim of the programme is to create a world class visitor centre to tell the stories of the pioneers and inventors of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the line itself and the impact it has had on local communities and around the world.

“Now we are asking for people to have their say on work carried out to date, and to express their views of what the key stories should be, at drop-in events during February half-term to capture people’s thoughts and ideas.”

Three open events will take place in Stockton, Shildon and Darlington this week, with the first taking place today between 10am and 2pm in the Preston Park Museum, Yarm Road, Stockton.

Locomotion, off Dale Road, Shildon, will host the second drop-in on Wednesday between 10am and 2pm, while the third and final event will take place on Saturday in Darlington’s Head of Steam railway museum, off Station Road, between 11am and 3pm.

Those interested in expressing views on the project who are unable to make it to one of the events can contact Kirsty McGready, the Stockton and Darlington Railway Heritage project manager, by emailing kirsty.mcgready@teesvalley-ca.gov.uk