FINAL preparations are underway for the 190th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S & DR) taking place on the weekend of 26 & 27 September, at the Head of Steam Museum in Darlington.
Staff are busy hanging out the bunting and trying on costumes for the free weekend event which will see hundreds flock to the birthplace of the modern railways and join in the celebrations. Visitors are encouraged to dress in the style of the day with prizes on offer for the best costume.
“That History Bloke” will be leading a range of Victorian craft activities and “Mr Pease” and “Mr Stephenson” will be around the museum for people to meet. There will be a host of free family fun including Cockerton Silver Prize Band, mini train rides, Punch and Judy, balloon modeller Tom Rolfe, Tommy Bungle the clown, face painting, children’s entertainer and fairground rides.
Book readings by Jaime Moussa and Tony Stowers and a display of anniversary inspired artwork created by local schoolchildren, will ensure there is something for everyone.
The on-site café will be selling a selection of celebratory treats, including special afternoon teas, and a 190th Anniversary Ale will be on sale in the museum for visitors to take away as a souvenir.
Darlington Locomotive Works will be open and it will be possible to view the building of the new P2 Prince of Wales. Additionally, on Saturday 26 September,Tornado will be hauling a rail tour through Darlington in the morning and the evening and can be seen at Bank Top Station.
This year’s Festival of Thrift, taking place at Lingfield Point on the same weekend, will also be adopting a steam railway travel theme, with dance, theatre, hands-on activities, film and installations celebrating one of the most sustainable modes of transport. There will be a free vintage bus to shuttle visitors between the museum and festival throughout both days.
Councillor Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Local Environment, said:
“This weekend promises lots of free family fun both at the Head of Steam and Festival of Thrift. Our partners across the region have also got on board to celebrate this milestone.
“It’s time for local people to be proud of our heritage and celebrate the forward-thinking and daring of our predecessors. Darlington is still a centre of engineering and technological excellence and it is thanks in part to our Victorian heritage. It’s time to get on board and celebrate.”
The museum is just a couple of minutes from North Road Station (on the Saltburn to Bishop Auckland Line) if you want to get there by rail. Contact the National Rail Enquiry Line on 0845 484950 or visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
Full details of the Festival of Thrift 2015 programme can be found on its website at www.festivalofthrift.co.uk