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See and do

At Locomotion our large open-air site is home to several historic buildings related to the Stockton & Darlington Railway. Our modern, purpose-built Collection Building is packed with stunning locomotives and artefacts from the National Collection alongside a conservation workshop, café and gift shop.

Locomotion offers a great setting for a fun day out with the family and makes an interesting stop for railway enthusiasts, allowing you to get up close to legendary locomotives. Outside, children can let off some steam in our railway-themed play park and there’s also a pleasant picnic area.

We run a busy calendar of events all year round catering for a broad range of interests.

See Tim Peake’s Spacecraft

From 22 November you will have a rare opportunity to see the Soyuz TMA-19M capsule, a historic piece of engineering that transported Major Tim Peake back to Earth from the International Space Station in 2016. As part of a national tour supported by Samsung, this temporary exhibition also features Space Descent VR, a state-of-the-art virtual reality experience narrated by Tim Peake which simulates the astronaut’s plunge back to Earth.

What else happens at Locomotion?

Tours

Tours exploring the fascinating stories and rich histories of items from the National Collection take place Monday—Friday at 11.00 and 14.00, subject to volunteer availability.

Cab Access

Access to the cabs of certain locomotives from the National Collection is also available, subject to volunteer availability.

Events and exhibitions

We run an exciting calendar of events and exhibitions throughout the year. These range from visiting exhibitions such as Tim Peake’s Spacecraft to annual staples like the Autumn Steam Gala.

Train rides

During select weekend events you can take a train journey pulled by a steam or diesel locomotive along the line of the original Stockton & Darlington Railway. Train rides are subject to volunteer availability and a small charge applies.

Science Station

Children can explore the Science Station and build their own vehicles in this new addition to Locomotion, which has been very popular so far.

School visits

We offer education activities tailored to meet National Curriculum requirements for Key Stages 1 and 2. Have a look at our workshops.

All our sessions are free and require booking in advance.

For all activities, the museum reserves the right to change the programme.

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Highlights of the collection

Locomotion is proud to display carriages from the royal train of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. There are three carriages on display, giving an insight into the variety of vehicles that can make up a royal train.

Royal Power Car No 5154

This was a support vehicle used on the trains of Edward VII, George V and Queen Elizabeth II. It provided power for the royal train with two generators. This meant that the royal train could stop anywhere and still receive power.

Royal Diner No. 76

This was a first-class carriage which took part in the Paris Exhibition of 1900, where it won the Grand Prix. It was of such a high standard that King Edward VII took it out of regular service and inserted it into the royal train. This carriage had high-quality chairs, tables and even a kitchen, which enabled passengers to eat meals while they travelled the country.

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Saloon

This saloon was the private coach of Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII. This was her own personal space aboard the train, as the king would have occupied his own carriage. There is a day saloon and night saloon on board this carriage and there is also a dressing room, bathroom and space for an attendant. The splendour of the interior design in this carriage is in stark contrast to the basic interiors of other carriages from the era and even today.

Green Arrow is the first built—and last surviving—locomotive of the V2 class. The V2s were originally designed to be used on fast freight trains, but they were much more versatile than this. During the Second World War the V2s excelled on fast passenger services and overly heavy freight trains designed for larger locomotives, all the while receiving very little care or maintenance.

This versatility and resilience led to the V2 class earning the nickname of ‘Engines Which Helped to Win the War’. Cab access is available on Green Arrow, subject to volunteer availability.

The Deltic prototype was designed to test the advantages and disadvantages of using diesel-powered locomotives on the railways of Britain. The prototype Deltic performed well and was a success: it was fast, powerful, and light. Because of this, the prototype inspired the construction of more diesel locomotives in the 1960s (namely the class 55s).

The Deltic prototype used two large engines of a type previously used in minesweepers, which were shaped like the Greek letter ‘Delta’. It is thought that this is where the name for the locomotive itself was derived.

Sans Pareil was built in Shildon by Timothy Hackworth for the 1829 Rainhill Trials. Sans Pareil competed against locomotives such as Robert Stephenson’s Rocket for a prize of £500 and the chance to provide locomotives for the soon-to-be-completed Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Sans Pareil did not win the Rainhill Trials but it was bought by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway regardless. It was first used as a steam locomotive and later as a stationary boiler.

Sans Pareil was donated to the Patent Office Museum (later the Science Museum) in 1863. It has been a museum exhibit for far longer than it had ever been a working steam locomotive.

Museum spaces

This modern structure was built in 2004 to house vehicles and artefacts from the National Collection and is currently home to over 70 vehicles. Inside there is also a viewing balcony for the two-track conservation workshop, where vehicles are restored or conserved, as well as a café, a gift shop, an indoor picnic area and more. The building is fully wheelchair accessible, with accessible facilities throughout.

The building was constructed with environmental sustainability in mind, utilising roof insulation, solar panels and more to help minimise the overall energy demands of the museum.

The Collection Building, although a modern construction, has a strong railway lineage. It sits on the site of the former Shildon sidings, thought to be one of the largest railway sidings in the world at one time.

This large structure is the earliest surviving industrial building in Shildon. It was built in 1826 as an iron merchant’s warehouse, and was strategically built close to the Stockton and Darlington Railway to exploit the transport opportunities that the railway could provide.

The building has seen many uses over its life, including a paint shop for locomotives, a practice space for the Shildon Works Silver Band and a boxing gym. Currently this building is used to store some of the oldest exhibits at Locomotion, including the locomotive ‘Nelson’ and several early chaldron wagons.

This house was built circa 1830-1831 for Timothy Hackworth, the locomotive superintendent of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. After Hackworth’s death in 1850 the house was used as accommodation for other railway workers and from 1975 it was used as the Timothy Hackworth Museum. In 2004 the house was integrated into Locomotion. The building has undergone many changes to its façade and its interior over its lifetime owing to the changes in its purpose.

The goods shed was constructed circa 1857-1896 and was in use until goods facilities were removed from Shildon Station in the 1960s. From 1975 the building was used as a platform for museum visitors riding passenger trains, originally at the Timothy Hackworth Museum, and then (after 2004) Locomotion.

The building is partially constructed from original Stockton and Darlington Railway sleeper blocks (which can be recognised by the bolt holes, where the rails would have been attached).

The parcel office was used by railway staff to control the movement of goods from the goods shed.

This collection of small buildings was constructed circa 1830-1858 on the junction linking the Surtees Railway, the Stockton and Darlington Railway and the Black Boy Colliery Branch. These buildings were used for many different purposes over their lives and there had been alterations to the structures to reflect this.

They could have been used by those working on the railway, the coal drops or even the gas works which was situated behind them. The original purpose of the buildings is not known and their sometimes-title of ‘The Stables’ could be erroneous (but may derive from their location on the junction of three horse-drawn railways).

This impressive structure was constructed in 1846-7 to streamline the process of refuelling steam locomotives. Chaldron wagons were taken up the incline and their loads dropped down chutes into the tenders of steam locomotives waiting below. The coal drops ceased operation in 1935 but have been an iconic backdrop in many railway photographs and videos since. The coal drops are a surviving physical link to the extensive coal mining industry of the area in the past.

This large red-brick building was constructed in 1888 as a Sunday school for the Wesleyan Chapel at the opposite end of the street. It was later used as a factory space until 2004 when Locomotion acquired the building and began to use it as the Welcome Building.

The building housed Sans Pareil, probably Timothy Hackworth’s most famous locomotive, until recently. Currently the building is used to host meetings at the museum.