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'Billy' - built in Newcastle around 1816 by Robert Stephenson &

Company and before the more famous Rocket - is the third oldest

surviving locomotive in the world. It worked on the Springwell &

Jarrow line, which brought coal to the Tyne from collieries south of

Gateshead. Designed by George Stephenson, this was one of the most

innovative transport systems of its day.

Early locomotives like Billy were called ‘travelling engines’

because they were mobile versions of the steam engines used at mines.

George Stephenson built his first locomotive in 1814 at West Moor,

near Killingworth, where he was a colliery engineer. It was similar to

engines pioneered at Leeds in 1812 and tried near Newcastle the

following year. Other locomotives were being built on Tyneside around

this time, and Stephenson used his practical skills to combine the

best ideas into his ‘Killingworth travelling engines’. Billy was

one of the last of the type to be built.

It was in use for more than 50 years, and many parts were replaced or

altered. There are few records, so we do not know how much of the

locomotive is original. A section of the line where Billy worked is

preserved as the Bowes Railway at Springwell Village near Washington,

Tyne and Wear.

Event Dates

Date Available Ticket Types Ticket Price Book Tickets
28th May 2022,
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29th May 2022,
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4th June 2022,
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