One of Britain's premier locomotive workshops, Darlington North Road was opened by the Stockton & Darlington Railway and was subsequently owned by the NER, LNER and BR. Today, all that remains is the Locomotive Works clock on the wall of the supermarket erected on the site in 1980.
By the 1850s the S&DR Shildon workshops developed by Hackworth could not keep pace with the locomotives needing repair. At the end of 1857 land at Darlington for a new works had been acquired, with plans being prepared by William Bouch in 1858. The first locomotive built at Darlington North Road Works was a short wheelbase 0-6-0 no.175 Contractor, turned out in October 1864. Although 4-4-0 engines were built in 1871, Bouch continued to build similar engines until 1875. Then 25 'BTP' 0-4-4 well tanks to a design by Edward Fletcher (Bouch's successor) were followed in 1877 by four Class 11 2-4-0s. Fletcher was succeeded by Alexander McDonnell whose first engines were neat Class 59 0-6-0s. Their design including a smokebox with a sloping front and the unpopular left-hand drive. After the hurried departure of McDonnell there was an urgent need for express passenger motive power. A committee led by Harry Tennant, the General Manager, supervised the construction of 20 engines which were a great success..
T.W.Worsdell introduced standards which were to serve the North Eastern Railway for the rest of its days - notably double-window cabs on tender engines, closed domes, and Ramsbottom safety valves enclosed in a brass trumpet. At this time, the older Locomotive Works at Gateshead still built the most important engines, North Road being left to build only the smaller types, a situation which existed until 1904 when the first large boilered 0-6-0 Class P2 appeared.
With the run down of Gateshead Works in 1908, North Road built its first large passenger locomotive, the Class R1 (LNER Class D21), they were followed by ten modified two-cylinder Atlantics which later became LNER Class C6. In 1913, the first of 70 Class T2 (LNER Q6) were turned out, followed in 1919 by the massive Class T3 (LNER Q7) 0-8-Os, the latter remaining in operation until 1962.
Under Raven, 20 large three-cylinder 4-6-2Ts were built in 1910-11, followed by 20 of the two-cylinder Class S2 (LNER Class B15) engines. Other designs including 35 three-cylinder 4-4-4Ts followed, but it was Raven's Pacifics, the first, no.2400, appearing in 1922, that were the NER's magnum opus.
At the Grouping in 1923, Class B16 4-6-0s were under construction at North Road Works, being closely followed by a batch of five Class Y7 0-4-0Ts. Concurrently superheated Class J27 0-6-0s were in hand in addition to three more Raven Pacifics which appeared in 1924. Except for five Class T1 4-8-0s, Darlington then turned to building locomotives of Gresley design, the first of 60 Class K3 2-6-0s being outshopped in August 1924. Also produced at Darlington at that time were the Class J38 and Class J39 Class 0-6-0s, but 1926 was Darlington's busiest period in LNER days when a total of 52 new engines were constructed - an annual figure not exceeded until the 1950s when BR 0-6-0 diesel shunters were built en masse. Darlington's first Gresley passenger engine was Class D49 4-4-0 No 234 Yorkshire built in 1927. In 1929 the unusual Class W1 4-6-2-2 was being built under much secrecy at North Road, the water tube boiler being constructed and fitted by Yarrow & Co, the Clydeside shipbuilders.. Locomotive construction in the1930s included a total of 23 Class B17 4-6-0s and in 1937 the Class V2 2-6-2 and the Class V4 2-6-0.
World War 2 saw Darlington Works manufacturing 18-pounder shrapnel shells along with a variety of bombs and WD '8F' 2-8-Os locomotives. After the war other classes built were Class L1 2-6-4Ts and 12 Peppercorn Class A1 Pacifics, LMS pattern '4MT' 2-6-0s, LMS and BR '2MT' 2-6-0s,and BR 2-6-2Ts, the last built in 1957. In the diesel era the works built Class 03 0-6-0DM and 08 0-6-0DE shunters and Class 25 Bo-BoDE. The works closed in April 1966.
The New Darlington Locomotive Works
The A1 Society leased the S&DR Hopetown Carriage works to build their A1 4-6-2 no.60163 Tornado, a new icon of the steam age. Hopefully this will be followed by a Gresley class P2 2-8-2. Meanwhile NELPG use the other half of the works for locomotive restoration. Also with a workshop presence in Darlington are locomotive builders the Class G5 Locomotive Co. and the Great Northern Steam Co. Ltd.
last updated: 24/08/12