MANY years ago, Darlington lost its initiative to become a centre for railway heritage and let York take the lead.

Years of not putting heritage at the centre of the town’s agenda has had a devastating effect with a loss of many significant buildings – are we to lose now our greatest asset?

Although late, the admirable regeneration of Head of Steam will be significantly undermined and the town of Darlington will lose a tourism draw.

Darlington has much to gain if we shout about our many achievements, our Quaker heritage and keep our icon of the town, Locomotion, in Darlington.

Much of the media these days seems to bypass our role in railway history, putting the Rocket at the beginning of steam – but without Locomotion there would be no Rocket!

It was Edward Pease who dedicated the latter part of his life to establish the Stockton and Darlington Railway, making sure the Locomotion engine worked through trials and tribulations and finally putting his money where his mouth was, he changed the world.

It is therefore essential to tell our story and Locomotion is essential and central to it. It should stay in Darlington.

Jean Kirkland, Darlington, local historian.

There are several reasons why Locomotion – the locomotive that hauled the first train on the first steam-powered public railway in the world – should remain in Darlington:

1.The name of the railway company was the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

2.Much of the money for the enterprise was raised by Darlington families eg the Pease and Backhouse families.

3.The decision to use steam power on the line was taken in Darlington at a meeting between Pease and Stephenson.

4.The locomotive is currently displayed in an atmospheric building intimately related to the early years of railway history, and surrounded by other buildings connected with the first years of railway history and operation.

5.Locomotion is part of a display that tells the story of the relationship between the railways and Darlington, and shows how Darlington became a major railway engineering centre.

6.Almost since the end of its working life, the locomotive has been on display in Darlington, either at Bank Top or North Road stations.

7.The chimney of Locomotion has been incorporated into the town’s logo and can be seen on the side of council vehicles and at the top of council tax bills.

8.Locomotion is an integral part of the town’s industrial heritage.

To move Locomotion away from Darlington would be very detrimental and would sever many historical links.

Richard I Wimbury, Darlington.

It saddened me to read your headlines (Echo, Jan 23) about the “battle” to oppose the removal of Locomotion No 1 from Darlington to Shildon.

This does not augur well for a harmonious celebration in 2025 if this sort of contention is going to flare up. It is quite unnecessary and seems to me to be triggered by London-based or backed administrators making decisions at a distance on matters they obviously know little about.

If any town has claim to caretaking this historic locomotive it is Darlington. It was Darlington money, mainly through the Peases and the Backhouses, that bankrolled the Stockton & Darlington Railway.

Locomotion No 1 was built in Newcastle, not Shildon, and was put on the rails at Heighington.

It is at Darlington that the engine spent its retirement, firstly on a plinth outside North Road station, before removal to Bank Top.

How it eventually came into the care of the Science Museum is probably by happenstance through the British Railways Board.

I’m sure this almost 200 years-old pioneer locomotive could not be in better curatorial care than at North Road Head of Steam Museum, where it belongs.

The policy makers at the National Railway Museum should be told to respect the historic local connections in this matter and not regard the venerable old engine as some kind of trophy that is up for grabs to fulfil their own celebratory plans.

Colin Foster, Scarborough.

So there is an almighty row brewing over the move of Locomotion No 1 to Shildon. Is it the role of the National Railway Museum to preserve and promote our railway heritage ?

What an opportunity awaits for both the NRM and Darlington to develop the Darlington heritage that exists and work together to make the Darlington Railway Quarter part of the National Railway Museum infrastructure.

Allen Hazlett, Darlington.