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At Locomotion you can see highlights of the British national collection of railway vehicles in the world’s first railway town.

The museum officially opened in September 2004 as a partnership between Sedgefield Borough Council and the National Railway Museum, with funding from both partners and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is home to more than 70 National Collection rail vehicles, including icons such as ‘Sans Pareil’, ‘APT-E’ and ‘Deltic prototype’.

The historic buildings associated with Timothy Hackworth and the early days of the Stockton & Darlington Railway are an integral part of the site. These buildings were part of Sedgefield Borough Council’s Timothy Hackworth Museum, which became part of Locomotion when it opened in 2004.

Visitor numbers at Locomotion have far exceeded early predictions, averaging more than 175,000 annually—often boosted by amazing events such as ‘Mallard 75’ and ‘Flying Scotsman and the Shildon Shed Bash’.

An important place in railway history

Shildon has had an exciting story to tell since the earliest days of the railways, and the site was chosen by the partners to reflect its unique place in history.

Robert Stephenson and Company’s Locomotion No. 1 departed from Shildon on 27 September 1825. This was the first journey on the world-famous Stockton & Darlington Railway and it cemented Shildon’s place as the ‘Cradle of the Railways’ and the world’s first true railway town.

Between 1825 and 1984 thousands of rail vehicles were built in Shildon. At its height, the Shildon Wagon Works was the largest in Europe and the massive infrastructure of sidings that supported the works was the largest in the world.

Locomotion proudly stands on the site of those sidings, providing a link to both the past and the future of the railways worldwide from the world’s first railway town.

Find out more about Shildon’s important role in the history of the railways and the history of the museum’s location.