On opening day the Company's rolling stock
consisted of one locomotive, one passenger coach, and 150
"Locomotion" was brought from
Newcastle by road and placed on the rails at Heighington (Formerly,
Aycliffe Lane), a short distance from Shildon. The station
buildings carried the number "G2". From this view
the building looks to be small, however the view is deceiving,
for due to the falling ground, the photograph in fact shows
the upper storey, which was used as the offices.
"Locomotion" was taken back to
Shildon to be attached to the train.
From daybreak, thousands of people collected
on the slopes of the ridge at Brusselton to see the working
of the sixty h.p. stationary engine.
Shortly after 7o'clock, twelve wagons of
coal were led from the Phoenix Pit to the foot of the Etherley
Ridge and drawn up the North Bank by the stationary engine
situated at the top. They were lowered down the Etherley South
Bank to the road at St. Helens, Auckland, where they were
joined by another wagon filled with sacks of flour. The wagons
were then led by horses across the flat to the foot of Brusselton
West Bank. At 8 o'clock, the loaded wagons, further burdened
by several people, were drawn up the incline, and thence lowered
down the eastern side of the ridge, to the awaiting "Locomotion"
and 21 wagons fitted with seats and the passenger coach "Experiment".
COUNTY ADVERTISER: 1ST. OCTOBER 1825
"The formal opening of that stupendous work,
which affects communication between the port of
Stockton and the coal field in the interior parts
of this county, took place on Tuesday last, ageeably
to the notice which has late appeared in our columns.
The weather was most propitious... Gentlemen's carriages,
post-chaises, gigs, jaunting cars, waggons, and
carts, filled with company, were seen- entering
the village from all directions, while equestrians,
mounted on spirited steeds, and others on broken-down
hacks and stupid donkeys, added to the general effect,
which was still further increased by a vast concourse
of pedestrians, who pressed forward, eager to behold
a sight altogether new in that part of the country."
provision was only made for 300 passengers, upwards of 500
people boarded the train.
This is the famous site where she was attached
to the train, the "Masons Arms Level Crossing",
after the trucks were lowered down the Brusselton South Incline.
As a result of the many checks that were carried out, the
train was delayed by one hour and at 10.00a.m., it left New
Shildon on its memorable journey. The
original hostelry was used as the railway booking office in
A plaque commemorating the occasion was attached
But was it the site from which "Locomotion"
started her famous journey? Most historians, let us believe
that this is the case, however, according to actual records,
the carriages were "... then lowered down the plane(Brusselton),
on the east side of the hill, a further distance of 880 yards,
in five minutes. At the foot of the plane the locomotive engine
was ready to receive the carriages." Certainly, "Locomotion"
would not have been directly at the foot of plane, as it would
have been necessary to have all the carriages on level ground,
however even allowing for such a distance it would not have
placed "Locomotion" at the point of the Masons Arms
Level Crossing. The starting point is likely to have been
some few hundred yards before this crossing.
But does it matter?, you may well ask! Perhaps
not! Some historians, however have committed themselves by
saying the journey started at West Auckland, presumably using
the argument that the last few carriages, which would be at
the foot of the Brusselton Incline would have been situated
in the parish of West Auckland. "Locomotion", however
was in Shildon and I believe that is all that matters.
I leave the reader to ponder and make his
or her own decision.
But what of hope on this momentous occasion?-
Hope played no part in this story, you may say! You are right,
of course, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. "Hope"
was the sister locomotive to "Locomotion", she had
an accident in 1827 and exploded in 1828, thereafter, disappearing
into obscurity. So near, yet so far from being written into