I WAS appalled to hear of the Science Museum Group’s (SMG) intention to purloin the original Stephenson’s Locomotion No 1 from Darlington railway museum and install it in it’s own premises at Shildon.

Darlington has been the undisputed home of Locomotion since 1857 – coincidentally, the year that the Science Museum in London was founded.

I understand that the SMG claims that it is “following the correct protocols”. Merely following protocols does not entitle it to claim that it is the right thing to do. Such a claim reeks of arrogance and appears to be completely dismissive of any contrary view.

In its February issue, Steam Railway magazine has published a timeline for Locomotion. The key date is: “1857: Withdrawn, restored at Shildon and plinthed at Darlington North Road.”

Clearly, both Darlington North Road and Shildon have valid claims upon the original Locomotion, as does Newcastle. Equally, the timeline shows that Locomotion hasn’t been completely static since 1857 but has taken part in many celebrations at different locations at different times – however, it has always returned to North Road.

These are historical facts and such celebration of this magnificent artefact at other venues must continue.

A compromise is the only acceptable outcome and the SMG must not be allowed to ride roughshod over a little local museum.

I strongly support the suggestion in Nick Brodrick’s editorial in Steam Magazine that the SMG relocates Locomotion to Shildon next year and for it to take pride of place at the 200th year anniversary, but it then to be symbolically handed back to North Road during the 2025 celebrations.

I feel that the North Road should remain its permanent home – the railway museum places great store on historical accuracy and history clearly shows that North Road has been the permanent home of Locomotion.

However, I feel that both Newcastle and Shildon have valid claims for temporary display. Requests from other museums, both home and abroad, should also be regarded as historically valid.

The SMG must have a rapid reappraisal of its intentions, and drop this arrogant attitude to reach a win/win compromise. No other outcome is acceptable from an important national institution.

I get the impression that each change of staff at the National Railway Museum leads to a change in direction, and that there is no coherent strategy. The long term roles of the railway museums at Shildon and York need to be clearly specified and adhered to.

I suggest that Shildon specialises in 19th Century exhibits and York specialises in 20th Century exhibits. Neither should attempt to tell different watered down versions of the full story – it’s not as though they are at opposite ends of the country.

Shildon must complement, not compete with, Darlington.

David Essame, Milton Keynes