It is full steam ahead for a series of events this summer to celebrate the 200th anniversary of George Stephenson’s historic locomotive.
North Tyneside Council, its partners and community groups, are on track to mark the bi-centenary of Stephenson’s first steam locomotive – the ‘Blucher’ – built in Killingworth.
A programme of community activities is planned thanks to a £55,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), with one of the highlights being the refurbishment and installation of the iconic steel sculpture of the Blucher in the town, which has been in storage since the 1980s.
Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “Here in North Tyneside we are immensely proud of George Stephenson; the lad from a poor background who worked as a brakesman at Killingworth Pit and went on to become a railway pioneer and industrialist renowned as the ‘Father of Railways’.
“I’m delighted the Heritage Lottery Fund has approved our bid to celebrate the bi-centenary of the Blucher and must express my thanks not only to the HLF but to members of the Killingworth Local History Society who have worked tirelessly to make this project happen.”
She added: “The council will be working closely with these and other community groups and schools and to make this a very special year-long celebration of Stephenson’s life and achievements.
“Many exciting events are being planned and they’ll involve the whole community.
“I’m particularly pleased that the famous steel sculpture will be removed from storage, cleaned and erected on the Southgate roundabout where it will provide a wonderful gateway feature to Killingworth evoking the legacy of the great man.”
Ivor Crowther, Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “George Stephenson’s vital role in shaping the railways and his contribution to the industrial revolution is an integral part of north east heritage that everyone should know about and be able to appreciate.
“Through these community events, exhibitions and the reinstatement of the sculpture to celebrate the bi-centenary of Blucher’ Steam Locomotive, this project will ensure his legacy lives on for many years to come.”