We’re ‘Chuffed to Bits’ to Learn…..

We’re ‘Chuffed to Bits’ to Learn…..

….that George Allan has a connection to the 1925 Centenary celebrations of the inaugural rail passenger journey on the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR).

There is an article in the British Newspaper Archive from the Shields Daily News of the 20th June 1925 where the timings of the various entertainments for the 1925 S&DR Railway Centenary are being set out for those wishing to attend.

The Duke and Duchess of York were due to arrive in Darlington on July 1st at Bank Top Station on the 2:45pm train, whereupon they were shown around an exhibition created for the event.

On the following day, following a procession of ‘old and modern locomotives’ along a section of the old Stockton and Darlington Railway route, at 5:30 in the Park there was a band contest for Darlington bands organised by the Darlington Corporation “who are offering valuable prizes for March contest (own choice pieces) and test piece ‘Les Huguenots’.“

The article explains that the adjudicator for the band contest is George Allan of Leeholme, Bishop Auckland.

In the march contest, the winning entrants were; 1st, Cockerton Band; 2nd, Darlington Forge Band; 3rd Darlington British Legion Band.

There is almost certainly more to be learned about this episode in George Allan’s life, and I’d expect there to be detail in the Northern Echo of the day, though as yet the relevant issues don’t appear to have been digitised, other than a Railway Centenary Supplement I have seen that concentrates more on the historical detail and not the centenary events themselves, so we’ll see if we can access the information another way. I have ordered a copy of the programme from the centenary celebrations, which I believe does include a little more information about the various elements of the celebrations. When that arrives I may well update this post.

Regrettably I’ve seen no photographs from the contest in the Park in Darlington, but there is a really beautiful silent film of the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of York in Darlington followed by the procession of locomotives. I have added a link to this below. What’s a lovely twist to this film is that some of the locomotives on show were ‘state of the art’ at the time the film was made, but to us now it’s rather like footage of a regular steam cavalcade.

When Locomotion No.1 makes it’s appearance (though it features early in this film it was actually carefully scheduled to be last in case it broke down) you will see that there is a band in the rear chaldrons of the train. It was reputedly a ‘local railway band’. It would be great to understand if it was one of the Shildon bands acting the part of the Yarm Town Band that played the day of the original S&DR launch, better still if George Allan himself had some involvement. This is a short version – but there is a full 19 minute version of the film in the BFI archives that you can watch HERE


Published by Dave Reynolds

Dave was born in 1968. He is a Business Analyst for a major UK telecommunications company and a Director of the Shildon Heritage Alliance CIC. He is also the author of the book of "The Wizard and The Typhoon," a design graduate, amateur historian and professes to be a shoddy multi-instrumentalist when time allows.