Looking Forward to the 200th Anniversary
On Wednesday September 16th, 2015, Parliament recognised the importance of the Stockton and Darlington Railway to the world, and looked ahead to its 200th anniversary in 2025.
At the request of Phil Wilson MP, with the support of Helen Goodman MP, an adjournment debate was held in the Houses of Parliament to celebrate its 190th anniversary. Phil said: “The Stockton and Darlington Railway was important to the economic success of the North-East and to community pride in 1825, and with the right support and action, this world-class heritage site can be as important again. Work has already begun, with huge community support, to rescue the remains of the line and give it the international recognition it deserves.
Over the next ten years, culminating in the bicentenary in 2025, there are aspirations to create a long-distance walking route along the original line. This will link up a number of excellent museums and provide heritage-led economic regeneration for the area. In that same year, the Tees Valley hopes to be awarded the capital of culture accolade.”
Helen Goodman spoke to argue for Shildon’s claims to be recognised for its importance and that of Timothy Hackworth to the story. Jenny Chapman MP spoke on behalf of Darlington and Alex Cunningham MP spoke on behalf of Stockton. Junior Minister Tracey Crouch praised the ‘fantastic’ work of volunteer groups such as the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway to preserve the track bed. She gave every indication that we have government support for what we are all trying to do, and that there would be support for another debate in ten years’ time for the 200th anniversary.
She said: ‘It is great that so many local people are engaged with this fantastic site and realise that it may well have importance far beyond their local community . . . I congratulate all those involved in the 190th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and wish them every success with their efforts to celebrate, preserve and promote this important aspect of our national story’.
Next week the Memories section of the Northern Echo (Saturday’s edition) will look at ‘The First Five Miles’ – a new book and guided walk about the Witton Park end of the line. The book will be launched next Saturday with an accompanying exhibition.
Councillor Trish Pemberton, Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway who asked Phil Wilson and Helen Goodman to arrange the debate said: “I cannot tell you how happy all of this makes me.
All the community groups working so hard to preserve and protect and interpret the line now have recognition at the highest levels in parliament which will help us achieve our long-term goals for the line. The economic regeneration it will bring should benefit everyone in our local area, as well as Darlington and Stockton.
Anyone interested in getting involved in one of the groups can contact me and I will point you in the right direction. There is a huge amount to do over the next few years and there is something for everyone. Shildon’s long established Local History Society and the Brusselton Incline Group will be at the heart of it”.