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The Killingworth Billy is one of only five survivors that pre-date Stephenson's world-famous Rocket. Billy was built in 1826 and it last ran under its own power in 1881 to mark the centenary of George Stephenson's birth. Billy began life as a development of Stephenson's 'Killingworth Travelling Engine', and was probably the first commercially successful form of locomotive. Billy's daily task was to haul wagons of coal to the shipping staiths on the River Tyne.

Before his death, in 1848, George Stephenson predicted that before the end of the century the world would be powered by electricity and it was fitting that Tyneside played an important role in this.


The Museum's latest locomotive to go on display is the newly restored electric Harton E4. The E4 forms the centerpiece of the Museum's exhibition The Electric Century.

The Electric Century:

The exhibition takes a look at how electricity has changed the way we live and its role in revolutionising transport on Tyneside in the early 1900s. The display includes an exciting interactive multimedia display which tells the story of the Harton Electric Railway.

The locomotive was one of nine supplied by Siemens between 1907 and 1913 to the Harton Coal Company of South Shields which operated collieries in South Tyneside at Harton, St Hilda, Boldon, Whitburn and Westoe. These locomotives were used on a newly electrified railway, whose purpose was to deliver coal and colliery waste to shipping staiths on the River Tyne.

E4 is one of a near-identical pair of centre-cab Bo-Bo type locomotives built in 1909 and remained in service until the 1950s and on standby until 1982, when it was purchased for the Stephenson Railway Museum.

Britain's first electric suburban railway linked Newcastle with North Tyneside, and the Harton Coal Company pioneered the use of electricity on the extensive industrial system for which locomotive E4 was built.

From Pits to Staiths:

As well as the interesting engines, carriages and parcel vans the impact of the coal industry on the region's railways is explored in the fascinating exhibition From Pits to Staiths which uses hands-on exhibits to show how trains work.

Train Rides:

During the summer the volunteers of the North Tyneside Steam Railway, who maintain the locomotives and carriages during the winter months, take visitors on a journey from the Museum to Percy Main on a real steam train.


The Museum has historic railway exhibits from the early days of the steam railway up the present day, for example:

  • The early locomotive Billy, built in Newcastle around 1826 for hauling coal
  • Steam and diesel locomotives used on Tyneside and elsewhere for the 1880s until the 1980s
  • An electrically-powered parcels van of 1904 forms the pioneering Tyneside suburban electric railway system, and an electric locomotive built in 1909 for a colliery line
  • A fleet of passenger coaches from the 1950s.

The Museum provides an ideal resource for schools studying transport, the Victorians or local studies at KS1 and 2.



The Killingworth Billy.






The harton E4






A steam train ride to Percy Main.



Engine 401 - photograph.

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