FOOTPATHS in a church, where rail pioneer Timothy Hackworth is buried, have been renovated.

Bishop Auckland and Shildon Area Action Partnership, through the neighbourhood budgets of councillors Shirley Quinn and the late Henry Nicholson, funded upgrades to the footpath network and roadway within the churchyard at St John’s Church, in Shildon.

The project, led by Shildon Town Council, included resurfacing works to the existing churchyard footpaths from John Street to Burnie Gardens and footpaths leading back towards the church to improve access for all.

Shildon Town Councillor Louise Mather, daughter of Councillor Nicholson, said: “On behalf of myself and my sister Rachael, I am extremely proud to represent my father, the late Councillor Henry Nicholson, who funded and supported the renovation of the footpath network and roadway at St John’s Church for the benefit of residents and visitors to the area.”

The churchyard is used by the Guerilla Gardening Project, which is a partnership project between Shildon Alive and Shildon Town Council, that gets children involved in gardening, horticultural and environmental projects.

It is hoped that by enhancing the area that the number of visitors would increase to raise awareness of the Grade II listed church and War Memorial along with the grave of Timothy Hackworth.

The Wylam-born rail pioneer, who built important locomotives including Locomotion, the Royal George and Sans Pareil, was manager of the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company and had a huge impact on Shildon and played a huge part in its growth and development as a railway town. He died in 1850.

Bishop Auckland and Shildon AAP coordinator Andrew Walker said: “It an honour to be able to support St John’s Church through funding from Cllr Shirley Quinn and the late Cllr Henry Nicholson. The path is well used by many people in the town and compliments other work that has been recently completed to the town square and war memorial restoration.”