The 200th anniversary of the S&D is happening in 2025 so the build-up has begun.
."The finest piece of historical fiction I have read" Tony Fox, Historical Association, Durham.
Morning Star - Attila the Stockbroker
Number One by Tony Stowers is a novel, based on actual events, which achieves a very difficult goal. It not only brings working-class history to life, it brings a specific historical phenomenon — the birth of the railways — to life in a way which really engages the reader even if you aren’t interested in trains!
It is the story of the transition from coach and canal transportation to rail, set in the north-east between the years 1810-1825 and culminating in a wonderful re-enactment of the first ever rail journey between Stockton and Darlington in September 1825 by the eponymous locomotive of the title.
It is written from the best possible perspective — the bottom up. The main characters are beautifully portrayed and include a radical miner and his young, resourceful son, the determined leader of a gang of Irish navvies — who blasted and cut the way for the railways of course — and a Waterloo veteran soldier with an eye for the main chance.
It is incredibly well researched and describes the everyday living conditions and experiences of ordinary people of the time so well that it deserves a much wider audience. Some radical publisher (Pluto Press, maybe?) should take hold of this and let it soar.
Barbara Emmett commented on Goodreads "..There's a lot of research gone into this and it shows without being obvious - that is, it's not presented in a dry instructional way but in a lively manner that gives a feel of the whole period. The characters come alive and the dialogue is entertaining and believable. There are some great descriptions too."
The Joan Hackworth-Weir Collection Railway History Archives
The Journal http://www.thejournal.co.uk/north-east-analysis/analysis-news/darlington-author-tony-stowers-15-7945777
"No1 is a 15 year quest to have a book published about his home town. Born and raised in Darlington in a working class household, and passionate about his North East roots, he was naturally drawn to the County Durham town’s place in world history.
It was one end of the Stockton to Darlington railway, the first public railway to use steam locomotives in the world which opened in September 1825. The importance of this event cannot be understated as it was one of the pivotal moments of the industrial revolution which was to propel Britain to the status of world leader.
The region was the birthplace or origin of some of the industrial greats of that period: George Stephenson and his son Robert Stephenson, Timothy Hackworth and William Hedley to name but a few. Their expertise and inspiration spread not just nationwide but around the globe.
Born in 1963, as a 12-year-old Tony was taken by his father in 1975 to watch an event in Darlington commemorating the 150th anniversary of the building of the line.
“I saw a lot of the original trains come through North Road and Bank Top station,” he recalled. “Even as a kid of 12, I enjoyed writing and I thought wouldn’t it be great if somebody had written a book, to bring the original scene back to life.”
Over the years the idea never left his head. While the event has its own place in the history books, the details are contained within at times dry, scholarly accounts. “There were lots of black and white drawings, a lot of statistical and technical diagrams. But of course there was no film or photographs then. There was little which possessed the creative stimuli to bring it to life as I thought it could. This was always my ambition.”
And the ambition grew, although his upbringing was not typical of the artistic type he was to become."