The Committee, assembled at the bottom of Brusselton engine plane, and after carrying out their inspection, the carriages, loaded with coal and other merchandise, were pulled up the 1960 yards of the eastern ridge by the Brusselton engine. The journey taking some seven and a half minutes. Subsequently they were lowered down the hill to where "Locomotion" was standing.
The Chairman of the Company, in recording the day's events, stated that:
"...about eight o'clock, thirteen wagons, twelve of them laden with coals, the others with sacks of flour, the whole covered with people, were drawn up the Inclined plane near Brusselton, in admirable style, amidst the cheers of thousands, by means of two powerful steam-engines of thirty horse power each...Flags with the following inscriptions were displayed on four of the wagons.:- 1. A large white flag, inscribed 'Stockton and Darlington Railway, opened for public use 27th September 1825. Periculam privatum utilitas publica.' Beneath this motto a landscape with the locomotive engine and wagons. 2. A second flag with the above motto. 3. 'Prosperity to the Stockton and Darlington Railway.' 4. 'May the Stockton and Darlington Railway give public satisfaction, and reward its liberal promoters.' The scene on the morning of the procession sets description at defiance. The universal cheers, the happy faces of many, the vacant stare of astonishment of others, and the alarm depicted in the countenances of some, gave variety to the picture..."
As a precaution, and perhaps paticularly, to give a more imposing effect to the proceedings, the engine was preceded by men riding on horseback, holding flags aloft in their hands, giving notice to all whom it concerned that the locomotive and its entourage was approaching.
All along the route, the fields, lanes and bridges were full of spectators and at Stockton it was joined by a large number of horseback riders, carts of all description and people on foot. One observer noted that:
At Shildon, a pump clogged and just outside of Darlington a truck was derailed. Nevertheless, almost all of Darlington's 10,000 residents turned out to welcome "Locomotion". The coal was distributed amongst the poor and two additional wagons were attached behind the Company's coach to accomodate Mr. Meynell's band, who played intermittantly, throughout the rest of the journey. On reaching the Company's wharf at Stockton, a twenty-one gun salute was fired, and the band struck up "God Save The King", which was followed by three times three times stentorian cheers.
"Locomotion" achieved a top speed of 15mph and arrived at Stockton at 3.45pm. Almost 600 passengers disembarked, although only 300 tickets had been officially issued.
Timothy Hackworth, after his appointment improved the engines on the line as well as modifying the unreliable "Locomotion"and in 1826, serious consideration was given to scrapping Stephenson's troublesome locomotives and returning to reliable horsepower. "Locomotion" was rebuilt 3 times by Timothy Hackworth, and it continued in service until 1841, when it passed into the hands of Joseph Pease & Partners and was used as a colliery pumping engine until 1857.
After the Railway Jubilee in 1875, it went on exhibition, visiting Philadelphia in 1876, and in 1881 it took part in the procession at the Stephenson Centenary.It was displayed at the Liverpool Exhibition of 1886, Newcastle Jubilee Exhibition of 1887,and the Paris Exhibition in 1889.
In 1892 it was placed on display at Bank Top Station, Darlington where it remained until until 1924 when it went on display at the British Empire Exhibition. In July, 1925, it took part in the Centenary celebration, when it travelled from Stockton to Darlington pulling a train of wagons.
It was returned to its pedestal at Bank Top Station until it was moved to its current home at Darlington Railway Centre and Museum in the 1970's.
Many recollections of the opening day have been reported and preserved for posterity, and to reproduce some of these highlights the comparative ignorance and simplistic attitude to life of most of the people of that generation, something which, perhaps, today we may find difficult to comprehend.
Almost the whole of the inhabitants of the area turned out to witness the occasion and the debut of the "iron horse", except two old ladies, whose infirmities or prejudices, or both prevented them from paying homage to the dawn of a new era. There was great excitement as the engine came into sight, but that excitement turned to dissapointment, when it was discovered that the locomotive was not built like a four footed animal.
At Darlington, when taking on water, a large crowd gathered around "Locomotion". At this point in time, the engine driver turned the gauge cock to test the steam, the crowd expecting an explosion or other disaster dispersed in a stampede and distanced themselves from the locomotive.
Amidst the congratulations, jubilations and celebrations the first journey on a public railway was completed. Uncomfortable, slow and perhaps dangerous as it was, it opened a new chapter in world history and to those who travelled that first journey, it was fast, more comfortable and less dangerous than the stage-coach.
THE OBSERVER: 25TH APRIL 1830
"There is at present a great probability that locomotive carriages will speedily be brought to run on rail-roads for public accomodation. Should this be the case, and should the advantages of such a mode of conveyance be as great as described, they must supersede common roads, and all vehicles moved by animal power. The changes this will effect in the face of the country, and in the moral relations of its inhabitants, seem likely to be very extensive. Places will be brought nearer to each other, and communication between them will be more rapid and frequent. Nobody will consent, we presume, to be jolted along a rough road, 10 or 12 miles an hour, when he can be whirled along a smooth and pleasant one with twice the velocity."