THE last diesel locomotive to be built in Darlington was officially returned to the city yesterday after more than 50 years of work.
This marked a return of peace to the local railroad world after the bitter battle over Locomotion No 1, which ended with the Shildon and Darlington Museums sharing this historic locomotive.
Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, cut the ribbon that marked the return of the D6898 to the city where it was built in 1964, and said: “The dawn of the rail age is such an important historical event. , not just for Darlington, not just for the North East, not just for the UK but for the world as a whole, if we’re going to celebrate it, if the artifacts are to be shared a bit, it’s not a bad result.
“It is an engineering gift to the world which originated in the North East of England.”
Sir Peter, as administrator of the Science Museums Group, owner of Locomotion No 1, participated in the negotiations on the future of the locomotive of 1825. During these negotiations he discovered that another of his organizations , Network Rail, owned the D6898, which was the last engine to leave the Springfield Works of Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn in 1964, and which it was in danger of disappearing due to cannibalism.
“It’s a complete accident in history that Network Rail owns this locomotive,” he said. “We have four more and they are used for engineering trains in Wales, and this was the fifth and they were taking parts out of it for the others when they broke.
“I thought it deserved better than this and after having worked out the future of Locomotion No 1 satisfactorily between the board and the museum trustees, I thought it would be a good thing for the city and the people of Darlington – this was the culmination of the thick end of 140 years of locomotive manufacturing in the city.
Restored and polished, the D6898 was installed on the edge of the Head of Steam site, opposite the Hopetown Carriage Works, where A1 Trust is currently building its second main steam engine.
“It’s not just about the past,” said Sir Peter. “We believe that what happened 200 years ago will be a source of jobs and skills for the future – the engineering tradition of the A1 Trust and Hitachi trains at Aycliffe, we see the railways as a very powerful force for employment in the future. ”
Council officials naturally took advantage of Sir Peter’s visit to make their views known for the city to become the headquarters of Great British Railways, which is the successor organization of Network Rail.
Cllr Heather Scott, Chief of Darlington Council, admitted she was a little puzzled when Sir Peter offered to return the D6898, but was delighted to see the engine – which was the workhorse of the steam railroads – in place.
She said: “He polished himself beautifully and I’m sure the kids will love watching him.
“When we have Locomotion No 1, or its replica will work again, it will be the first, and this diesel is the last, so it covers the whole history of the railroad.”