A feature-length documentary film is being produced to mark the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR).
Titled Iron & Steam The Dawn of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, the film was launched at the Head of Steam Museum in Darlington
At the launch excerpts from the film that have so far been produced were screened along with short speeches and interviews with those connected with the project, including the filmmakers, Barclays, and Stockton and Darlington Borough Councils.
The film is being produced by County Durham-based Lonely Tower Film & Media. will tell the story of the S&DR, which, according to Caroline Hardie from the Friends of Stockton & Darlington Railway, is ‘the railway that got the world on track’.
Using newly filmed narratives from experts and enthusiasts associated with the history of the S&DR, this film will tell the comprehensive story of the S&DR from before its establishment in 1825 to its expansion to Middlesbrough in 1830. The emphasis will be on the local innovations that brought this industrial and cultural icon to fruition.
Barclays is the main supporter of the film and community engagement project; the relationship between Barclays and the Stockton & Darlington Railway predates the opening of the railway in 1825. One of the key funders of the business was the Darlington-based Backhouse’s Bank, and the Darlington town centre branch of Barclays is still in an original Backhouse’s Bank building.
The film is due for completion in summer/autumn 2023 and will be available to purchase on DVD and on Amazon Prime.
Marie Gardiner, Producer and Director at Lonely Tower Film & Media, said:
“Working with Barclays on this project is the perfect fit. The historic connection is there and Barclays have been incredibly supportive of what we‘re trying to achieve. The goal is for the film to be screened in the communities connected with the railway line, ensuring that by 2025 everyone can feel the pride that comes with living in an area with such an important history. Barclays has also opened their archive to support the film research and we’re very excited about what we’ll discover.”
Susan Theobald, Barclays Darlington Branch Manager, said:
“Barclays has been an integral part of communities across the north of England for generations. When James Backhouse and his son Jonathan formally constituted their bank in Darlington in 1774 they established a valued partnership between financial services and society across the North East. The direct connection we have with the origins of the Stockton & Darlington Railway are something we are truly proud of; we were there in 1825 and we will be there in 2025 helping to celebrate the first steam locomotive passenger railway.”
Mark Thorburn, Producer and Director at Lonely Tower Film & Media, said:
“The Stockton & Darlington Railway is a shining example of how a bold technological enterprise went on the change the world. There are exciting plans developing to mark 2025, and this film’s role will be to ensure that everyone in the area, and the wider world, fully understands and is excited about the story behind the headlines. Yes, it will be about the development of the modern railway; but more than that, this is the story of people and communities taking a leap of faith and seizing opportunities in the face of incredible change.”
Caroline Hardie, Friends of Stockton & Darlington Railway, who was interviewed in the film, said:
“The Stockton & Darlington Railway draws in everything that’s been happening at different places, at different times. It kind of hits the zeitgeist if you like, yes railways had been used to take coal from the coalface to the river, but what happens here is all the technology is pulled together in one place. You’ve got the beginning of a network that’s going to extend not just over the country, but the world, and it starts here.”
Anthony Coulls, Senior Curator of Rail Transport and Technology at the National Railway Museum, interviewed in the film, said: “The Stockton & Darlington Railway meant more in 1825 than we can possibly imagine now.
“Whether you are interested in the locomotives, the business, the machinations, the politics of how this came to be – or whether you are interested in what the railway means in terms of culture and landscape, the Stockton & Darlington Railway transcends all these specialities and brings them together, and there is something that excites me in every part of that.”