County Durham is the birthplace of the modern passenger railway. Locomotion No. 1 was put on to the rails at Aycliffe Station in 1825, having been transported down the Great North Road from Tyneside where it was built by Robert Stephenson and Company in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
On the 27th September 1825, after only two days of trials, Locomotion No. 1 set off on the first railway journey to carry passengers. People paid to stand in open topped wagons, known locally as ‘tubs’. Of course there was seated accommodation for the well off who had been invited to join the spectacle.
The route of the journey was along the lines owned by the Stockton & Darlington Railway Company, from outside the Mason’s Arms public house in Shildon, through Aycliffe and Darlington, then onward to Stockton.
In an overt show of confidence in the new passenger railway, the driver on the footplate was George Stephenson himself, the engineer who designed Locomotion No. 1 as well as the railway itself.