A records assistant at Network Rail’s archive in York has stumbled across a notebook with George Stephenson’s plans for the world’s first locomotive-driven passenger railway.

John Page discovered the notebook by chance while looking for another document in the archive’s deeds room in April this year. It includes Stephenson’s redesign and budget for the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which opened in 1825, and was signed by G Stephenson at Killingworth Colliery on 18 January 1822.

The notebook, which shows Stephenson’s survey of George Overton’s original plans for the line and recommendations, has now gone on display at the National Railway Museum in York.

John Page said: “Because it is a historical document it would never have been loaned out or requested as it didn’t impact the running of the railway so since the 1950s, it has sat on a shelf unnoticed amongst hundreds of other packets.

“I was looking for a deed for one of our internal colleagues and purely out of curiosity decided to look through the packets, and there it was, and what a thrill it was to find.”

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, chair of Network Rail, added: “George Stephenson’s original survey of the Stockton and Darlington Railway ushered in the railway age, not only in Britain, but around the world. Network Rail is delighted and proud to have found this astonishing artefact, and very pleased to have it displayed by our friends at the National Railway Museum.”

The notebook will be on display until 28 December in the museum’s Great Hall.

Photos courtesy of Network Rail


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