The story of a 200-year-old railway made of iron and steam will be told in a movie made for the era of download and current.
Barclays Bank will be the main sponsor of Iron & Steam: The Dawn of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, which is being produced with the support of the Stockton and Darlington Councils.
It will be shown in traditional community settings and will be available for purchase on DVD, as well as modified lesson-length versions that will be available to schools, but it is also hoped that the film will be on Amazon Prime for download and streaming in time for the rail bicentennial in 2025.
The project was launched yesterday at the Head of Steam Museum in Darlington by Durham County filmmakers Mark Thorburn and Marie Gardener, of Lonely Tower Films.
Mary Gardner and Mark Thorburn, who make the film
S&DR is seen as “the railway that put the world on the right track” because it brought together all the latest technology of the day along with the most keen engineering minds who were allied with the financing and vision to make the railways open to the public along an industrial length.
“It’s a complex story and a complex attraction for visitors, across 26 miles,” said Robin Kinch, president of the Stockton and Darlington Rail Heritage Partnership. “You can’t immediately encapsulate it in a few sentences because the characteristics that made it world first are a set of things made possible by the partnership.
Reuben Kinch, of Stockton Council, at the Iron & Steam launch event at the Head of Steam Museum in Darlington. Photo: Sarah Caldecott
The film will help make this more fully understandable. We want everyone to feel part of the story and the movie will be huge in helping to generate that sense of excitement. It will tell the complex story in a dramatic and entertaining way.”
Film director Mark Thorburn said: “It’s a global story and 2025 presents an opportunity for the entire region to showcase what has been achieved here. Whether you have roots in the region going back generations or you arrived here yesterday to build your home, this is your story.
“We hope the film will help people cherish their history and heritage.”
Carolyn Hardy, Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railways, photographed at Skerne Bridge, the world’s oldest continuously operating railway bridge
The filmmakers have already interviewed members of Friends of Stockton and Darlington Railroad and experts from the National Railway Museum, and have also gone to Manchester to film in the archives of Barclays Bank.
Barclays is a merger of Victorian Quaker banks, including Backhouse Bank, which was the most reliable bank in the Northeast and whose main lights arranged the financing of the railroad.
For yesterday’s launch, Barclays lent a plaque by Darlington Backhouse writer Samuel Toke Richardson showing how railroad rivals in 1819 attempted to bankrupt a bank, but bank chief Jonathan Backhouse managed to weather the financial storm, even as a wheel of his carriage came over Croft Bridge while He was transporting heavy gold bullion.
Sue Theobald and Karen Swinston, of Barclays Bank, with the painting from the bank’s archive, which is due to be shown in the film
“The direct connection we have with Stockton and Darlington Railroad assets is something we are really proud of,” said Sue Theobald, Director of Darlington, whose High Row branch is located at Back Houses’ headquarters. “We were there in 1825 and we will be there in 2025 to help celebrate our bicentennial.”
Barclays agreed to loan the painting to the head of the Steam Museum in 2025. The film should be ready for its world premiere in 2023 as preparations for the bicentennial intensify.
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