The Committee of the Stockton & Darlington Railway never considered in their early deliberations the concept of earnings from the carrying of passengers. In those days travelling was expensive and considered a luxury which the majority of people could not afford. At that time, the stagecoach which ran from Darlington to Stockton could hardly sustain the three or four times a week journey. The advent of the locomotive was not foreseen as to increase the traffic by any degree. The earliest record of any intention to run passenger traffic was in the minutes of a meeting on 7th October, 1825, proposing the application for a licence to run a coach on the line. Therefore on the opening day, the Company had no legal right to carry passengers.
At the same time, one Thomas Close, applied to the Company to run a coach between Darlington and Stockton at two guineas per week, which was accepted. In addition, the Company commenced to run a coach of their own called the "Experiment", however on 1st April, 1826, the Company gave Richard Pickersgill exclusive rights for running the passenger traffic, leasing "Experiment" to him for £200 per year.
STOCKTON & DARLINGTON RAILWAY
THE COMPANY'S COACH
Which commenced Travelling on MONDAY, the 10th of OCTOBER 1825, will continue to run from Darlington to Stockton, and from Stockton to Darlington every Day [Sundays excepted], setting off from the DEPOT at each place at the times specified as under, (viz.):-
From Stockton at half-past 7 in the morning, and will reach Darlington about half-past 9; the Coach will set off from the latter place on its return at 3 in the Afternoon, and reach Stockton about 5.
From Stockton at 3 in the Afternoon, and will reach Darlington about 5.
On the following Days, viz. :-
WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, & FRIDAY,
From Darlington at half-past 7 in the Morning, and will reach Stockton about halpast 9 ; the Coach will set off from the latter place on its return at 3 in the Afternoon, and reach Darlington about 5.
From Darlington at 1 in the Afternoon, and will reach Stockton about 3.
Passengers to pay 1s. each, and will be allowed a Package of not exceeding 14 lb., all above that weight to pay the rate of 2d. per Stone extra. Carriage of small parcels 3d. each. The Company will not be accountable for Parcels of above £5 Value, unless paid for as such.
MR. RICHARD PICKERSGILL at his Office in Commercial Street, Darlington ; and Mr. TULLY at Stockton, will for the present receive any Parcels and Book Passengers.
With no stations on the line, stopping places were utilised which were usually Inns:- Dan Adamson's, Shildon; Aycliffe Lane(Heighington); Fighting Cocks; Goosepool; Early Nook(Urlay Nook); "The Lord Nelson Inn", Potato Hall; "The Railway Tavern", Stockton.
A passenger on "Experiment" described his journey between Stockton and Darlington:-
A passenger on "Experiment" described his journey between Stockton and Darlington:- "The coach had no springs of any kind, and yet the motion was fully as easy as in any coach on the road. A very slight jolt is felt, accompanied with a click or rattle, every time the wheels pass over the joints of the several rails, and also at the breaks which occur at the different passing places, and then, if anything, feels harsher than in a coach. At any bends of the road, or other places where the view is obstructed, the coachman blows a horn to give warning of his approach to any wagons or vehicles that may be coming or going on the way. Some parts of the way were laid with rails of cast iron, joined at every four feet, and in coming upon these, the jerks and jolts were more frequent, more audible, and more sensible, resembling exactly, as the coachman justly observed to us, the clinking of a mill hopper."
Longstaff's History of Darlington
The "Experiment" was used on the line for approximately 15 months, thereafter it was used as a workmen's cabin at the foot of the Brusselton incline. It was destroyed by fire, when a group of Stockton workmen, unable to get a return load, decided to stay the night in the cabin. Armed with straw they lay down in front of a fire, however during the night, the straw caught alight, thus destroying "Experiment".
But was this "Experiment" or was it a coach, referred to as the "tub", historians appear to be divided on this. According to Theodore West in his "Outline History of the Locomotive Engine", the first coach is depicted as being similar to the old mail and passenger coaches, with inside and outside accommodation, much the same as the "Union".
"The "Express", a much improved coach was introduced in April, 1826, which effectively reduced the journey time from Darlington to Stockton down to one and a half hours. A number of other coaches appeared on the line, as a result of complaints from Inn-Keepers, the Company removing their restrictions on licences. In July, 1826, Martha Howson of the "Black Lion Inn", Stockton and Richard Scott of the "King's Head", introduced the "Defiance", the "Defence" onto the line. the "Express" and in 1826, the "Union".
Which will COMMENCE RUNNING on the STOCKTON and DARLINGTON RAILWAY, on MONDAY the 16th day of October, 1826,
And will call at Yarm, and pass within a mile of Middleton Spa, on the way from Stockton to Darlington, and vice versa.
FARES. Inside 1 1/2d.-Outside 1d. per mile. Parcels in proportion.
No gratuities expected by the Guard or Coachman. N.B. The Proprietors will not be accountable for any Parcel of more than £5, value, unless entered and paid for accordingly. The UNION will run from the Black Lion Hotel and New Inn, Stockton, to the New Inn, Yarm, and to the Black Swan Inn, near the Croft Branch, Darlington, at each of which Inns, passengers and parcels are booked, and the times of starting may be ascertained, as also at the Union Inn, Yarm and Talbot Inn, Darlington. On 19th and 20th of October, the Fair Days at Yarm, the Union will leave Darlington at six in the morning for Yarm, and will leave Yarm for Darlington again at six in the evening; in the intermediate time, each day, it will ply constantly between Stockton and Yarm, leaving each place every half hour.
Durham County Advertiser, 14th October, 1826
DURHAM COUNTY ADVERTISER: OCTOBER 14TH 1826
" The facility and rapidity with which passengers are now conveyed from one place to another by coaches and steam packets, would have appeared perfectly miraculous to our ancestors..."