THOMAS MEYNELL and Benjamin Flounders came back to life on Tuesday evening in the pub where 200 years earlier they had convened a crucial railway meeting.

The hugely wealthy Yarm landowners were among the driving forces, along with Darlington's Quakers, of what became the Stockton & Darlington Railway – the first modern railway in the world, which opened in 1825. The railway pioneers met on February 12, 1820, in the Commercial Room of the George & Dragon to discuss with, among others, Edward Pease and Francis Mewburn from Darlington what they should do in the wake of the king's death which had brought Parliamentary discussions about the railway to an end.

As dramatically re-enacted by the Time Bandits, amid much toasting with glasses of port and writing with quill pens, the men of Yarm and Darlington agreed to press on with their radical plans.

The meeting is symbolic of Yarm's involvement with the early railway, and the town is so proud of it that there was also a centenary re-enactment in 1920.

The bi-centenary event, which was addressed by The Northern Echo's Chris Lloyd, was arranged by Yarm Town Council.

"The railway is one of the key elements of Yarm, as you can see from the viaduct," said Cllr Peter Monk. "It is very humbling and exciting to be able to commemorate what these gentlemen achieved 200 years ago."

About 100 crammed into the pub, including the mayor of Darlington, Cllr Nick Wallis, and the mayor of Stockton, Cllr Lynn Hall, who said: "Stockton is very proud of our railway heritage and this has been a credit to Yarm. It is the start, and these events will culminate in what hopefully will be a fabulous celebration of the railway's opening in 2025."