A dispute over the future home of the historic Locomotion # 1 engine has been resolved.

The agreement between the Science museum group and Darlington Borough Council will see Locomotion No.1 move to Locomotion in Shildon in the coming weeks, but will return to Darlington for six months in 2025 – the bicentennial year of the iconic Stockton & Darlington Railway.

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The agreement also allows two more loans from Locomotion No.1 to Darlington – for a total of 12 months – between 2026 and 2030.

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Both parties will actively seek opportunities for Locomotion No. 1 to be loaned to the board beyond 2030 – for a maximum of two 12-month periods, or one 24-month period, in each five-year period.

The Steam chief had the engine under a loan agreement from the National Railway Museum that was due to end this month.

Darlington Borough Council, in partnership with the Tees Valley Combined Authority, plans to create a major new destination and museum for £ 25million visitors around the current museum site at North Road Station and historic buildings surrounding areas, which will open in 2024. The attraction will be at the heart of the 2025 Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR) bicentennial celebrations.

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Locomotion No.1 will be part of this celebration at the helm of Steam. The development will combine several listed buildings into a unique experience for visitors, including a large exhibition and interpretation space, café, archives, study area and reception areas.

‘Incredibly excited’ for the return of Locomotion

Sarah Price, museum manager at Locomotion, said: “We are incredibly excited to bring the Locomotion No.1 back to Shildon.

“And we know we can tell the amazing and authentic story of the Northeast’s immeasurable contribution to the World Railroad in the revamped Locomotion, where over 200,000 people will be able to see Locomotion No.1 for free every year.

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“Locomotion No.1 will undergo essential asbestos decontamination work in Shildon, and then, more excitingly, we will undertake a detailed archaeological and forensic investigation of the vehicle. This book will reveal so much more about the history of a locomotive so well known but so little understood.

Judith McNicol, Director of National Railway Museum, said: “The Locomotion No.1 is an extremely important item for both Shildon and Darlington: it has spent most of the past 163 years in Darlington – a town rightly proud of its key role in the birth of the railroads ; and in Shildon, it will be on display just a few hundred yards from where, in September 1825, he began one of the most important journeys in human history – the first public train journey to steam to the world.

“Locomotion No.1 has left an indelible mark in the history of the modern world and is an engineering marvel that all of the Northeast and this country can celebrate. The deal we have reached today is so important because it gives us a chance to look ahead and work together across the region to make the most of the unique opportunity we have in 2025. “

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