A steam train emerges from Ipswich Tunnel
Listed places

6 Sites That Survive From the Age of the Steam Train

Discover some of the most important listed sites associated with steam locomotives in England.

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.

Stockton and Darlington Railway
Remains Of The Stockton And Darlington Railway, Stockton-On-Tees in 1905. © Historic England Archive.

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.

Locomotion No 1 at the Darlington Railway Centre and Museum
Locomotion No. 1 at the Darlington Railway Centre and Museum. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Stephenson's Rocket at the Science Museum, London.
Stephenson’s Rocket at the Science Museum, London. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Liverpool Road Sation in Manchester
Liverpool Road Sation in Manchester. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Lime Street Station in Liverpool
Lime Street Station in Liverpool. © Historic England Archive. BB72/04632.

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.

Huskisson monument in Saint James' cemetery
Huskisson monument in Saint James’ cemetery. © Historic England Archive. DP026261.

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.

Black and white image of Maidenhead Railway Bridge
Maidenhead Railway Bridge, Taplow, Buckinghamshire. HT03999.

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.

turner painting of the Maidenhead bridge via Creative Commons
J. M. W. Turner: Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway. Oil on canvas (1844). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Exterior view of New Street Signal Box, from the south-east
Exterior view of New Street Signal Box, Birmingham. © Historic England Archive. DP158002.

Further reading:

2 comments on “6 Sites That Survive From the Age of the Steam Train

  1. Reblogged this on keithbracey and commented:
    #Birmingham features in this cavalcade of important steam train related sites with the Birmingham New Street 1970’s signal box being one of those featured

  2. Stuart Harris

    Birmingham Signal box is a concrete monstrosity in my opinion. Typical of the dreadful buildings architects inflicted on the City in that decade! The signal box at Shrewsbury would be a more fitting memorial to the steam age.

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