About our town!
Shildon became a Local Government District in April 1877. The Urban District Council superseded the Local Board in April 1894, and the District Council was enlarged in April 1937 at which time the population was approximately 16,000.
Gas was introduced for lighting in 1841, the supply being obtained from plant erected at Soho by the Railway Company. The only other streets lit by gas lighting at that time was in Grey Square, in Newcastle.
The Weardale and Shildon Water Company commenced a domestic water supply in 1871 and Electric lighting was introduced in 1902.
For many years Shildon market was held without statutory powers, and the Council was therefore unable to collect Market Tolls. The only remuneration the authority was able to obtain was in requiring stallholders to pay for the use of the stalls, which were the property of the ratepayers.
In 1924 a Town’s Meeting was held at which the section of the Act of Parliament was adopted, empowering the Council to hold a Market and to provide public weigh houses etc.
Several legal formalities had then to be carried through, and eventually the market was held on a legal basis, the scale of Tolls being sanctioned by the Minister of Health.
In years gone by the Old Market Place has been the starting point of many jubilant processions including Royal Coronations and the opening of Hackworth Park in 1928, when over 3,000 people gathered to take part in the procession.
A Poplar tree was planted in Shildon to commemorate those who were killed in the Great (1914-18) war. They were to be found in many places around the town including Wesley Crescent, in front of the Railway Institute and bordering the School playground in College Street. One Poplar was planted for each Shildonian who perished in action during that conflict and their names were put onto a plaque on the war memorial at St John’s Church.
Shildon had it’s share of heroes in both the first and second world wars, and although those who fought in the battles of Mafeking and Sebastopol are long forgotten, one has only to pick up a book about these wars and there you will find the names of Shildon men on its pages, men who rose to the challenge and gave their lives for England.
Shildon, more famous for its steam locomotives, had an electric railway from 1920 until 1935 extending to Simpasture initially and was worked by a fleet of Sentinel electric locomotives, which were garaged in the Shildon wagon works.
Shildon wagon works, or BREL as it was known finally closed its doors in 1983. The ‘jewel in the crown’ of British Rail Engineering Limited was plucked from the town without much thought for its inhabitants, workforce or its history; a bureaucratic decision made at BREL headquarters by some who had never had the pleasure of visiting Shildon and its works.
In September 2004, Shildon opened its new attraction – Locomotion, the National Collection at Shildon. A new purpose built museum for the display of Locomotives, Rolling Stock and Railway memorabilia.
Another museum, Vintage Vehicles Shildon, opened in 2006 close to Locomotion on the Dabbleduck Industrial Estate. 40 fully restored commercial vehicles, many of then Bedford wagons, are housed in this building along with many other transport related exhibits.
Why not pay us a visit? Its easy to reach by road or rail and is well worth the journey.