Darlington has a significant role in railway heritage, with the bi-centenary of the first railway passenger journey on Locomotion No. 1 on the Stockton & Darlington railway in 1825 fast approaching in 2025, two active railway stations, Bank Top and North Road, the Head of Steam railway museum  and a number of key buildings and sites, including the track-bed of the Stockton & Darlington railway running through the borough.  The railways, both in Darlington and worldwide, have been a rich source of inspiration for creative practice and exploration, helping people travel and explore, meet new people, exchange ideas, visit new places, as regular commuters or on journeys home. Click the box below to find out more about the current programme ‘Heritage on Track’. 

Heritage on Track is engaging people in local heritage of international significance in the lead up to 2025, the bi-centenary of the first railway passenger journey on Locomotion No. 1 on 27 September 1825 on the Stockton & Darlington railway. The programme is creatively exploring the importance of both rail and local heritage within particular communities in Darlington which are based in close proximity to the track bed of the Stockton & Darlington railway (Red Hall, communities around North Road, and Middleton St George).  The project is managed by Darlington Borough Council, with Groundwork NE & Cumbria leading the community programme and Tees Valley Arts leading the Creative programme.  Heritage on Track is one element of the Great Place Tees Valley programme.

The film below is part of a collection of films created especially for the Heritage on Track project. The films are also available on Groundwork YouTube Channel.

Heritage on Track is delivered by Groundwork NE & Cumbria and  Tees Valley Arts on behalf of Creative Darlington and is part of Great Place Tees Valley. This project is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Julie Macbean, Crown Street Art Gallery Exhibition, 2013

Creative Darlington has supported a number of artists and been involved in promoting programmes or events creatively exploring our railway heritage, including performing arts and visual arts activity. An example of which can be found here. Cath Campbell created miniature models of railway stations linked to the story of Elizabeth Bidder who, at 18 years old became part of a ship’s crew accompanying Robert Stephenson. 

  • HOS Tracks Across Time poster and display space
  • Hilarity Bites Darlington Comedy Festival Head of Steam platform. Photo credit Leona White-Hannant
  • Hilarity Bites Darlington Comedy Festival Head of Steam. Photo Credit Leona White-Hannant
  • Darlington Jazz Festival 2014, Head of Steam
  • Splendour of Steam exhibition, Crown Street Art Gallery. Stephen Bainbridge painting in gallery.
  • Crown Street Gallery Exhibition, Julie Macbean, 2013
  • Crown Street Gallery Exhibition, Julie Macbean, 2013
  • Collections, Sara Cooper, Head of Steam Museum

In 2014-15 artist Sara Cooper worked with a local primary school as part of her Collections artist-led project. Pupils explored the Head of Steam Museum, made maps of their walks around the collection and created artworks in response to railway artefacts and stories.

Collections Project, Sara Cooper, Head of Steam Railway Museum. Photo Credit : Jason Hynes

Artists, including Julie Macbean and Stephen Bainbridge have also developed and shared exhibitions informed by railways in Crown Street Art Gallery.  The Head of Steam railway museum programmes regular exhibitions and events, frequently involving practicing artists and organisations.