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Shildon is a town in County Durham, in England. It is situated 2 miles south east of Bishop Auckland and 11 miles north of Darlington. Shildon is part of the Bishop Auckland parliamentary constituency.

Shildon is considered to be the “cradle of the railways”. The town grew when the Stockton and Darlington Railway established its workshops there in 1825. The company owned much of the land, and the population grew to around 9000.

The town’s connection with the birth of the railway industry, through the efforts of Timothy Hackworth, are marked at Shildon Locomotion Museum, which opened in September 2004 as part of the National Railway Museum. Daniel Adamson, Hackworth’s apprentice and engineer was born in Shildon. Shildon and the Locomotion Museum are served by Shildon railway station on the Tees Valley Line.

Steam locomotives such as the Sans Pareil and Royal George were built at the locomotive works until 1984 when Shildon Works, or Shops, with nearly two centuries of building engines and rolling stock closed. The reason Shildon became important was coal. The area owes its growth to the rise of the East Durham coalfields in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Shildon’s earliest settlers were groups of people who lived during the Mesolithic period – over 6000 years ago. They lived by collecting wild plants and hunting wild animals. There was a small prehistoric flint tool found in the Brusselton area may have been of this date.

Romans arrived in County Durham in the 1st century AD. and built a line of forts along the Roman road leading north to Hadrian’s Wall. They built other roads in the region. Traces of Roman roads have been found at several places in Shildon, such as Brusselton Wood. Small settlements grew up in places alongside the course of the road.

By the end of the Anglo-Saxon period the village was established. It was not the only settlement in the area. Various mediaeval settlements stood around Thickley.

Shildon grew during the Industrial Revolution. The expansion of coal mining meant the traditional way of moving the coal – along horse-drawn wagon ways – was not sufficient. Instead steam engines began to be used. At first static engines pulled the wagons, but were replaced by moving engines – locomotives.

George Stephenson built a track from Witton Park to Stockton-on-Tees. Static engines pulled the coal wagons over Brussleton, after which they were attached to steam engines. The remains of a static engine houses can be seen at Brusselton. Originally the railway carried only coal, but demand led to passengers being carried. The first passenger train began its journey in Shildon on 27 September 1825.

Shildon was the home of an innovators of the railway industry, Timothy Hackworth. He built one of the first ever engines, the Sans Pareil. His home has now been turned into a railway museum. Next door stands his workshop, the Soho Engine Worksndeveloped from 1833. By 1855 it was a large complex of workshops and other buildings.

Shildon was the birthplace of the writer Sid Chaplin, after whom the local library is named.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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