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15th Birthday Gala Draws Crowds to Locomotion

More than 3,500 people visited the Shildon Gala, a special event at Locomotion in Shildon to mark the museum’s 15th birthday.

Visitors were able to ride on a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket and explore the museum with free activities and demonstrations.

One of the highlights was a ceremony where a GB Railfreight (GBRf) Class 66 diesel engine was named ‘Locomotion 15’ in the museum’s honour. The locomotive was chosen to celebrate the historical importance of freight traffic to the region and recognised the museum’s ongoing role in educating and inspiring visitors.  

A special surprise guest at the event was HST Class 43, power car no.43002 Sir Kenneth Grange. Also known as the InterCity 125, the HST was Britain's answer to the Japanese Bullet Train and still holds the world diesel speed record of 148 mph.

Appearing at the Gala before going on permanent display at the National Railway Museum in York, the HST power car is one of the UK’s most influential trains having served across the UK for more than 40 years and rejuvenating rail travel.  

Visitors to the Gala were also able to ride on a miniature railway provided by South Durham Model Engineers and access the cabs of many of the museum’s 70 rail vehicles.

To help celebrate the anniversary, school children from the area also designed a birthday card for the museum and created a poster display which showed how people might travel in the future.  

Dr Sarah Price, Head of Locomotion, said:

“I would like to thank everyone who attended our 15th birthday event and GBRf for the honour of naming ‘Locomotion 15’ after the museum. We have ambitious plans to continue to improve and expand Locomotion which I look forward to sharing with our visitors in the coming years.”

Bob Tiller, GBRf Engineering Director, said;

“We are thrilled to unveil ‘Locomotion 15’ to celebrate the success of the museum on its 15th anniversary. The work Locomotion does to showcase the history of the railways is an inspiration and I hope visitors are encouraged to find out more about the important role rail freight plays across the country.”

Locomotion was first opened by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004, as a partnership between Sedgefield Borough Council and the National Railway Museum, with funding from both partners and the Heritage Lottery Fund. In the first 12 months of operation, the new museum welcomed 210,000 visitors—considerably more than the 60,000 anticipated.

Since opening, the museum has displayed engines from six different countries and welcomed 70 guest locomotives including world famous engine no.60103 Flying Scotsman.  

Locomotion remains a partnership with Durham County Council and is a part of the Science Museum Group, displaying highlights from the national collection of rail vehicles.


For more information, please contact:

Simon Baylis
01904 686 299

Pam Porter
01904 685784

About Locomotion:

  • Locomotion offers visitors the chance to see highlights of the national collection of railway vehicles in Shildon - the world’s first railway town
  • Locomotion forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and the National Railway Museum in York
  • Locomotion is a partnership between the Science Museum Group and Durham County Council, which is a major funder of the museum
  • Admission to Locomotion is free
  • For more information visit