Darlington Railway Museum started live merely as a station on the Stockton and Darlington Railway which was opened on September 27th 1825 with the prime purpose of transporting coal from the south west Durham collieries around Shildon, West Auckland and Witton Park, to the River Tees at Stockton, for shipment to the south of England.
The History of the Darlington Railway Museum
The Stockton & Darlington was by no means the first railway, but its opening in 1825 marked a very significant step in the development of railways by bringing together two features for the first time:
The concept of a public railway, available to all, for transport of passengers and goods
The use of steam locomotives
The ceremonial opening on 27 September 1825 was the first occasion on which a steam locomotive was used to haul passengers on a public railway. The locomotive concerned, Stephenson`s `Locomotion` still exists and is displayed at Darlington Railway Centre and Museum, which is situated on the original 1825 S & DR route.
The new railway soon proved to be a great success and substantially reduced the price of coal. From the early years of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, private contractors using horse-drawn coaches on S & D R lines provided passenger services. After several years the economic potential for carrying passengers was evident and the Company introduced its own steam hauled passenger services in 1833.
Although the S & DR made use of steam locomotives from its opening day, it can also be seen to represent a transitional stage of railway development in which stationary engines and horse-drawn vehicles were also utilised. Although `Locomotion` represents a notable development of the earlier pioneering work of George Stephenson and others, it is fair to say that the subsequent work of Timothy Hackworth, the first Superintendent Engineer of the S & DR, proved the supremacy of the steam locomotive over other forms of motive power.
From these origins there developed the major railway engineering industries of both Darlington and Shildon, which were to play an important role in supplying both the home and export markets. The initial success of the S & DR encouraged the promotion of
branch and connecting lines. A branch opening in 1830 was instrumental in the development of the new town of Middlesborough, which was to become a major industrial centre. Further extension, through a separate company promoted by the S & DR, took the line to Saltburn, which another associated company developed as a holiday resort.
Westward extensions into Teesdale and Weardale facilitated both the exploitation of the area`s mineral resources and the transport of agricultural produce. Other lines in the S & DR network established vital links for development of the iron and steel industry at Consett and, via the Stainmore route across the Pennines, in West Cumberland. These examples give an indication of the wide-ranging economic and social benefits which resulted from development of the S & DR and associated lines; a feature which was to be repeated not only in other areas of this country, but throughout the world. Also significant is that the S & DR was successful commercially, paying dividends to its shareholders and thereby encouraging the investment that was essential for the construction of other railways.
The Haunted History of the Darlington Railway Museum
One cold night a night`s watchman was doing his rounds within the Darlington Railway, he was making sure everything was ok. He was very cold so he went through the trapdoor into the basement to light the fire which would warm him up in the bitter cold. He was standing in the basement warming his hands when a man with a old cap on came into the basement with a dog. The nightwatch man called Durham stood for a moment before asking what the man was doing here. The man with the cap then went over to Durham and hit him for no reason. Durham turned and went to hit him back but his fist went straight though the man and hit the fireplace and marked all his knuckles. The the man set the dog upon Durham and the dog bit into him and he felt so much pain. The main then called the dog off and disappeared thought the wall/door. Durham looked at where the dog had bit him, there was no pain and no mark could be found! He was sure he had seen a ghost!
A while later after researching, the staff at the railway and Durham thought maybe it had been the ghost of a man called Winters who had killed himself, he was thought to of shot himself and he haunted the Darlington Railway Museum. The Staff to this day have experienced unexplained disappearance of items then they return but no one was about at the time. Footsteps are heard, Voices are heard. Feelings of not been alone, that you are been watched especially when the lights go out. Also a Young boy who was visiting the Museum with family actually told the staff he had spoke to an old fashioned man wearing a cap like the one Winter`s used to wear. Could this of been the Ghost of the man who killed himself? Who else could possibly haunt Darlington Railway Museum?
Maybe Ex workers who loved the place so much that even now that they have passed on they return!
Maybe people who used to visit the Railway a long time ago. Who knows?