Steam locomotion had changed the world, and a series of celebratory steam-hauled train journeys marked the withdrawal of the service in 1968.
Diesel and, later on, electric services were to replace much-loved steam locomotives, many of which went to the scrap heap, with some thankfully on display in heritage railway museums.
1. Stockton and Darlington Railway, Darlington and Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham
The first ever steam-hauled public railway, Stockton and Darlington, saw ‘Locomotion No 1’ take its maiden voyage on 27 September 1825, carrying 550 passengers.
Parts of the original railway line survive protected as a scheduled ancient monument, including Skerne Railway Bridge, one of the first ever railway bridges and the oldest railway bridge in the world still in use, along with the original Stockton and Darlington Railway carriage works in Darlington.
2. Stephenson Erecting Works, Newcastle
One of the most important names in early railways is that of the Stephenson engineering dynasty.
George Stephenson is often referred to as the ‘father of railways’, and his son Robert Stephenson’s erecting works in Newcastle were the first purpose-built railway works in the world, where the ‘Rocket’ locomotive was constructed in 1828-29.
Another early steam locomotive survives in Kent: the ‘Invicta’. This locomotive was also designed and constructed by Robert Stephenson and is logged in surviving records as Locomotive No. 12, the ‘Rocket’ being Locomotive No. 11.
3. Liverpool Road Station, Manchester
Now the Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road Station in Manchester dates to 1830 and was designed by George Stephenson as the eastern terminus of a dedicated passenger rail line for steam locomotives.
Lime Street Station is at the western end of the Liverpool and Manchester railway line.
This 1836 station is the oldest grand terminus mainline station still in use in the world and was the departure point of the last mainline passenger train to be hauled by steam locomotive power on 11 August 1968.
4. Huskisson monument in Saint James’ cemetery, Liverpool
The Huskisson monument pays homage to Sir William Huskisson, MP for Liverpool, who was tragically run over and killed at the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opening in 1830.
Huskisson has the dubious honour of being the first person in the world to have been killed in an accident by a locomotive for whom a memorial survives.
5. Maidenhead Railway Bridge, Taplow, Buckinghamshire
On a happier note, an essential piece of steam locomotive history still in use, the Maidenhead Railway Bridge carries the main line from London to the west.
It is the largest brick-built arch bridge in Europe, constructed between 1837 and 1839 to the design of famed mechanical and civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
It features in the famous railway painting by Turner ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’ (1844), one of the most iconic images of the railway age.
6. Birmingham New Street Signal Box
A sense of how transitory a period the 1960s was for the railways comes in the youngest railway listing.
Birmingham’s Brutalist New Street signal box was constructed in 1964, four years before the end of steam-hauled services, and is still in operational use. It offers a stunning contrast to the more romantic imagery of the railways.