Stockton & Darlington Railway
A small section of the famous Stockton and Darlington Railway, the world’s first public railway using steam locomotives, runs through the south of the Parish.
The name Stockton and Darlington Railway was that adopted by the company which was formed in 1818 to build the railway, However, in many ways it is a misnomer, as the purpose of the railway was always to convey coal from pits located to the south and west of Bishop Auckland to the port at Stockton-on-Tees, and it simply passed through Darlington on route. Indeed, when the railway first opened to the public in 1825, the train actually started from Shildon, rather than Darlington, before travelling to Stockton!
There is nothing noteworthy about the small section of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in Middridge Parish. However, immediately to the west in the neighbouring Parish of Shildon were the Shildon Sidings, at one time the largest railway marshalling yard in the world. Coal from the Charles and Eden Pits, which were later sunk in the Parish, was loaded into wagons at one end of these sidings, before being transported elsewhere.
Shildon was completely transformed by the railway, and became the world’s first “Railway Town”, and at one time had one of the only two Railway Works in the country (the other being at Swindon). The free Locomotion Railway Museum records the railway history of Shildon, and British railways in general, and is well worth a visit.
The railway stations at Shildon and Newton Aycliffe are linked by a Multi-user Route, and pedestrians and cyclists can travel alongside this section of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (passing through Middridge Parish). However, these days, although the line is still open, there are very few trains to see.