August 10, 2014 13:12:08
Posted By Robert. Stephenson
NORTH TYNESIDE STEAM
A celebration of the bicentenary of the steam locomotive Blucher, together with the story of its creator George Stephenson in North Tyneside and of steam railways in the area
COMPILED AND EDITED BY KEITH ARMSTRONG AND PETER DIXON
First published 2014 Design and artwork by Peter Dixon Published by Northern Voices Community Projects, 93 Woodburn Square, Whitley Lodge, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear NE26 3JD
This new book from Northern Voices Community Projects, commissioned by North Tyneside Council, with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been published to mark the bicentenary of George Stephenson's steam locomotive Blucher and tells the story of its creator in Killingworth and North Tyneside and of steam railways in the area. Blucher was built by George Stephenson in Killingworth, North Tyneside in 1814 in the Colliery workshop behind Stephenson’s house, Dial Cottage.
The engine was named after the Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher who fought in the battle of Waterloo, helping to defeat Napoleon. It pulled coal trucks along the wagonway from Killingworth to the coal staithes at Wallsend. Blucher made Stephenson’s reputation and over the next five years he built 16 more locomotives (many of which were built by recycling Blucher’s parts) at Killingworth, some for the Colliery and some for the Duke of Portland’s wagonway between Kilmarnock and Troon, which improved on the earlier engine, and this led to him being commissioned to build the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, establishing him as an engine designer and laying the foundations for his major role in the development of railways.
The book also celebrates the renovation of the sculpture by Charles Sansbury which was first erected in Killingworth town centre in 1971 to symbolise the town's association with George Stephenson. The sculpture was removed and put into storage during the regeneration of the town centre in the 90s and has not been on public display since. North Tyneside Council, with the active support of Killingworth Local History Society, has restored the 25ft-long metal artwork for the bicentenary of Blucher. Known locally as ‘The Killingworth Engine’, the sculpture was placed above the entrance to the town’s pool and community building. When that was bulldozed in 1994 to make way for a shopping development, it was taken down and chopped in half for easy storage.
Now the artwork, which had been kept at the Stephenson Railway Museum in North Shields, has been restored and placed at the Southgate roundabout near the town. With historical documents and images, alongside poems, songs, stories, photographs and drawings by local people, the book is intended to ensure that the story of steam in North Tyneside is not forgotten.
Dr Keith Armstrong, Peter Dixon,
Northern Voices Community Projects