Organisers of the charity fund-raising ‘Railway Jaunt’ planned for the two-mile stretch of new tarmac pathway beside the Newton Aycliffe to Shildon line on October 1 are reporting ‘growing excitement and great interest’ from runners, walkers, pedal cyclists, families and wheelchair users in various parts of Durham.
The walk is one highlight of an action-packed event at Shildon’s Locomotion NRM museum organised by The Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway to commemorate the opening of the line on September 27, 1825, when it became the world’s first public railway to be operated partly by steam.
Newton Aycliffe Rotary Club has assumed responsibility for organizing the Jaunt which begins at 2pm from Newton Aycliffe railway station.
The Mayor of Great Aycliffe, Jed Hillary, will be at the opening and the Mayor of Shildon (and Chair of the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway), Mrs Trish Pemberton, will welcome arrivals at Locomotion, where a civic reception will take place to celebrate both railways past and railways present.
The path has been installed by Durham County Council and will symbolically unite the two towns.
“Shildon is recognised as the cradle of the railways while Aycliffe is witnessing the re-birth of its railway links with the arrival of train-builders Hitachi,” said Rotary spokesman Syd Howarth who is co-ordinating Rotary involvement in the Jaunt.
Registration forms and applications for Jaunt sponsorship sheets are now available from Tesco in Newton Aycliffe, Rtn Syd Howarth at Newton News in St Cuthbert’s Way, Rtn Don Walker at Walker’s Butchers in Simpasturegate, Rtn Barry Hutchinson at 24 Westmorland Way and Mayor Patricia Pemberton at Shildon Town Council Offices.
Howarth added: “We knew that the event would be popular but we did not expect such interest from so many people at this stage of the event.”
He is also appealing for volunteers to help with a litter pick along the path.
As well as the Jaunt, the celebration will feature display stands, heritage walks, rides for a small charge on the celebrated Furness steam engine, railway-themed exhibitions by the Middleton Hall Photography Group, railway artist John Wigston, the Brusselton Incline Group of railway conservation volunteers and others including Jane Hackworth-Young, descendant of steam locomotive engineer Timothy Hackworth. Entertainment will be provided by the Durham Music Service and local performers.