Tyne and Wear
Engineering / Construction, Railways
Arguably the most important historic site and centre for innovation in the North East of England throughout the Industrial period, Stephenson’s Works was the world’s first purpose built locomotive factory and is of global significance.
A foundry and locomotive and general engineering firm developed on the site from the 1820s. Robert Stephenson & Co became one of the premier manufacturers of locomotives and other steam engines in home and overseas markets. Here the most famous ‘names’ in early railway history were designed and built, most famously, Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’.
The company’s success meant it eventually outgrew the site, moving to a new workshop in Darlington in 1902. Whilst many of the Stephenson’s Works buildings were incorporated within a DIY retail warehouse (now-closed), 20 South Street survives relatively intact. It includes parts of the former offices and features an important fully glazed wall which gave light into what was the boiler manufactory.
The building was restored in the 1990s and 2000s through the excellent work of the Robert Stephenson Trust. It is now part of the Stephenson Quarter – a proposed mixed use development site and is often used as an event venue.