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S&D Railway Heritage Programme

Tees Valley Combined Authority is investing in the amazing heritage of our area, aiming to create world-class attractions which tell the powerful stories of our place and people. Rail Heritage is a key priority within this and we are proud to be part of the driving force behind  the S&DR Programme.

We see the international opportunity of using our past rich railway history to set the context of the future of the area – realising the impact that this will have in terms of developing our creative and cultural sectors, creating economic growth, improving skills, community cohesion, place making and driving forward innovation.

The 26 miles of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR) went from Witton Park in County Durham, through Shildon, Darlington and Stockton. The Railway operated along this route from 1825, and was the birthplace of the modern railway system, bringing together several technical innovations to deliver an effective and profitable passenger and freight network. Eventually extended to Middlesbrough and Saltburn, the line afforded people some of the first travel and leisure opportunities and changed the shape of the world’s communications, travel and economy.

Original route of the S&DR in 1825:

A partnership was established, collectively exploring the challenges and opportunities presented by the Railway. The Stockton and Darlington Railway Heritage Board includes: Tees Valley Combined Authority; Darlington Borough Council; Durham County Council; Stockton Borough Council; Historic England; A1 Steam Locomotive Trust; the Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership; Hitachi; Friends of Stockton and Darlington Railway; Network Rail; Northern Rail; Science Museum Group (Locomotion); and Virgin Trains.

The Board has established a Programme with the following vision:

“By 2026 the Stockton and Darlington Railway will be recognised as a world class heritage attraction, having built on its reputation as the birthplace of the modern railways to strengthen and promote a strong cultural offer that provides a distinctive experience for visitors and residents. This world-class attraction will boost the economic growth potential of the area in this pioneering approach of using our historic environment to act as a catalyst to drive forward heritage-led regeneration while conserving its historic interest”

The Board has been successful in achieving Heritage Action Zone Status. The Stockton and Darlington Railway Heritage Action Zone (S&DR HAZ) has recently been established to help rejuvenate and restore this historic railway in the build up to its bicentenary in 2025, and realise its potential to become a major heritage attraction, international visitor destination and driver of long-term economic growth and regeneration in the area.