Ask any railway enthusiast where the birthplace of the passenger railway is and many will mention Stephenson, the Stockton & Darlington Railway. Some may even mention Shildon in County Durham or the Mason’s Arms pub.
However, few will mention Aycliffe Station. It is a place you wont find on any map today as it has been renamed Heighington Lane Station, yet this little kn0wn place played a pivotal role in the formation of the modern passenger railway. For it was here, where Locomotion No. 1 was first placed on to the rails having been brought south to the area from the workshop where it was built on Tyneside. It then headed to Shildon for that first journey from the outside the Mason’s Arms, which is still in existence today, towards Darlington and then on to Stockton. Much to the delight of the huge crowd that had gathered to watch.
Wandering round today’s station, there are few clues to be seen of what happened here all those years ago. In fact the station looks much like any to be found on a branch line of the railway network. However, there is a strong hint in the form of the converted station buildings. The Locomotion No. 1 public house.
With walls adorned with all manner of memorabilia, Locomotion No. 1 (the pub) is one of those fascinating buildings in its own right. The owners have ensured that the building has avoided going down the route of large open plan rooms. You’ll find all sorts of side rooms, nooks and crannies, where quiet conversation can be enjoyed over a pint or bar meal. For lovers of quality beers and ales, you will find a well stocked bar, with staff on hand to give a detailed description of each where the name is not readily familiar.
Also, in contrast to the history of the building, you will also find free wifi available.
The pub itself provides a range of music on Saturday nights and you will find the food here very reasonably priced, as well as delivered quickly to your table.
Ample parking is available to the rear of the building, in fact, it has been known for music festivals to be held during the summer months in the past. So whilst the pub itself is a little out of the way on the southern side of an industrial park, once there, it is very easy to get parked and get in.
Whether you fancy a bite to eat, a quick pint or two, or simply to buff up your railway history knowledge, it’s not hard to glance out of the window and visualise the Locomotion No. 1 going by back in the 1820’s.