ON March 11 in the House of Commons, in response to a question by Darlington MP Peter Gibson about the future of Locomotion No 1, the Prime Minister promised to “do what I can to support his campaign to prevent Darlington from being despoiled of that iconic locomotive”.

With talks between Darlington council and the engine’s owner, the National Railway Museum, now having broken down over the future of Locomotion No 1, it is scheduled to be removed next month from the town where it has been on display for 163 years.

When asked by The Northern Echo’s Chris Lloyd whether he would now fulfil his pledge, Mr Johnson said his great-great-great-grandfather had been born in Darlington in 1813 and was probably there when Locomotion No 1 made its inaugural journey in 1825.

The Prime Minister said: “If they are planning to move it, I need to find out what’s going on and why.”

Mr Johnson added: “I don’t want to intervene unnecessarily in museum politics which, in my experience, can be pretty tough, but Locomotion No 1, it seems to be that its home is in Darlington.

“If there’s a very good reason for moving it, I think I need to know what that is. Can I make sure we come back to you?”