The story of Wylam village in Northumberland is a story about the origin of railways. The birthplace of George Stephenson, it was the centre for the first revolutionary pioneering work on railway engineering which laid the foundations for all that followed.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, on the instigation of colliery owner Christopher Blackett, a series of revolutionary experiments in railway technology were conducted.
The principal protagonists read like a roll call of great railway engineers: the wayward genius Richard Trevithick, the devout Methodist Timothy Hackworth who wouldn’t work on the Sabbath and the portly asthmatic William Hedley who oversaw the work.
It was Hedley who, in 1813, would invent the legendary Puffing Billy, the first reliable working steam locomotive.