G is for George Stephenson and not forgetting his son Robert and their company’s role in the Stockton to Darlington Railway.
Together the pioneering engineers built Locomotion No 1 – the first steam locomotive to haul a passenger carrying train on a public railway. This was first put on the tracks to be tested at Heighington Lane, which is now part of the Newton Aycliffe Business Park.
George Stephenson had earlier in his career designed a safer lamp for use in mines called a Geordie lamp, there was a bit of a kerfuffle involving parliament over the invention of the Davy lamp (another mining lamp) and accusations that Stephenson had pinched some ideas. Following an investigation, this was found not to be the case and it was proven that Stephenson had created the Geordie lamp without copying anyone else’s work. Both inventors were awarded prize money for their designs.
Although Newcastle upon Tyne is slightly more north from the Brightwater patch, we have to mention that it’s claimed that the canny people from Newcastle became known as Geordies stemming from the use of this lamp!
How many engineers have effectively had a cities population named after one of their inventions? He went on after the success of the Stockton and Darlington Railways Steam locomotives to work on the Liverpool and Manchester railway. Today’s standard railway gauge of 4ft 8 and a half inches comes from Stephenson’s time, it was based on the measurement between the wheels of a horse and cart.
G is also for Great Aycliffe, which incorporates School Aycliffe, Aycliffe Village and Newton Aycliffe. It also includes areas such as Woodham. We’ve already looked at Aycliffe Village and we’ll discover more about Newton Aycliffe under N but for the time being if you are interested in the history of the area the Town Councils website is a good place to start https://www.great-aycliffe.gov.uk/about/