STEAM train journeys, exhibitions and parades are among the events planned to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

Some of the festivities planned to mark the bicentenary of the birth of the modern railway, due to be celebrated in 2025, have been revealed.

There are plans to recreate the inaugural journey from Witton Park, in County Durham, via Shildon and Darlington to Stockton using the replica Locomotion No. 1, as well as put on a regular steam shuttle between Stockton and Shildon and use historic locomotives in place of modern vehicles on some scheduled services.

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Work has already been underway for several years to make sure the milestone is marked in the region.

The programme, which will cost in the region of £1.3-£1.9m, is being developed by the S&DR Railway Heritage Partnership, which includes councils for Stockton, Darlington and Durham, the Tees Valley Combined Authority and National Railway Museum, Historic England, Network Rail, and the Friends of Stockton and Darlington Railway.

The plans will be discussed, along with finances, by Stockton Council's cabinet next week.

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Niall Hammond, chair of the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, said: “In 1825 the Stockton and Darlington Railway started a worldwide economic revolution by using the inspiration and ingenuity of the people of the North East to develop world leading skills and experience in the cutting edge technology of the day.

"Building on this fantastic heritage we hope the S&DR will not only provide the driving force for a memorable bicentenary year of events in 2025, but also put in a place a legacy of real value to the community, education and economy of the region which will last for many years.

"After several years hard work by all the partners in the project, the Friends are excited and pleased to see real enthusiasm, funding and commitment being put into making the most of our internationally important heritage.”

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It is hoped royalty will attend some the festivities, arriving on the Royal Train.

One of the highlights of the programme will be the recreation of the inaugural journey, which could be broadcast in real time to a global audience, a report due to be considered by Stockton Council's cabinet next week says.

It also outlines plans for a regular steam shuttle service between Stockton and Shildon, stopping at Darlington and crossing the Skerne Bridge, as well as scheduled trains being turned over to historic steam with locomotives like Tornado, Prince of Wales or Flying Scotsman replacing their modern units.

A collection of more than 30 early locomotives, including some from the National Railway Museum or built by Robert Stephenson & Co will be brought together as linked exhibits across several sites with the potential for a temporary “engine shed” to be built in Stockton to display some of the engines alongside those at Shildon and Darlington.

It is hoped there will be dozens of mini-carnivals, parades and celebrations across communities along the 26-mile line, and a programme of outdoor theatre, visual arts and events will also be produced.

Stockton Council's cabinet is due to discuss the proposals at a meeting on January 20.

Councillor Jim Beall, cabinet member for health, leisure and culture, said: “I am pleased and proud to be part of the board that has developed these exciting and ambitious plans for 2025, which will inspire local communities and visitors from far and wide.

“We are looking forward to continuing our preparations alongside the range of partners who are involved in this exciting project.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “The Stockton & Darlington Railway helped put our region on the map, shaping the world thanks to its innovation and our rich rail heritage is one to be rightly applauded. That’s why I’ve backed the programme, including Darlington’s Rail Heritage Quarter, with £21million of funding.

“These extensive plans, touching on every part of the 26-mile line, will help educate, inspire and entertain, and give us a whole calendar of events, exhibitions and engagement to look forward to after a difficult couple of years.

“More than that, it will undoubtedly boost visitors eager to learn our story and see the historic locomotives on display, in turn supporting our other brilliant businesses. This is a celebration of national – if not international – importance and we’re ready to deliver.”

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