Stockton and Darlington Railway

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The Stockton and Darlington Railway, opened in north-east England in 1825, was the first public railway in the world to employ steam locomotive haulage, and is thus claimed to be the first modern railway. However, it drew on technology developed in the north-east for colliery railways; and the line's engineer, George Stephenson, had worked on colliery lines (including the 8 mile long Hetton Railway of 1822).

The S&DR ran from the coal mining area near Bishop Auckland in the south-west of County Durham, through Darlington, and on to staiths (wooden structures from which coal was loaded on to ships) on the River Tees at Stockton; in 1830 the line was extended to Middlesbrough, downriver from Stockton, where a new coal port grew up which within two decades was to become a major iron producing centre.

The line initially operated a mix of traction methods, including steam locomotion and haulage (of goods and passengers) by horses; but rapidly switched to locomotive-only operation. This switch was assisted by the reliability of the engines built by Stephenson and by Timothy Hackworth, an engineer born, like Stephenson, in the Tyneside mining village of Wylam, who was placed in charge of the S&DR engineering workshops at Shildon.

The S&DR was taken over by the North Eastern Railway in 1863.