Life along the Line - Shildon in Song

During April - July 2021, Citizen Songwriters partnered with the Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway and Shildon Railway Institute to create a set of original songs all about Shildon - the world's first railway town - and it's place within the wider Stockton & Darlington Railway story. The project involved two storytelling events (one on Zoom, the other in and around Shildon) and a community songwriting workshop at the Shildon Railway Institute with people who either once worked, or currently live, in Shildon to explore what the railway means to them. You can find out more about the project here

The songs were performed at Locomotion Museum on 15 July 2021 with Timothy Hackworth Primary School (Year 4) along with some of the participants from the community workshops. 

Have a listen to the songs on the YouTube clips below along with the lyrics. 

Music
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Lyrics

Shildon My Home 

Welcome to Shildon my home,

Where locos and heroes are known,

We cradled the railway and made it our own,

Welcome to Shildon my home.

 

Our forefathers built up the lines,

So wagons could get to the mines,

Our bright engineers are the pride of our town,

Our history’s known all around.

Welcome to Shildon my home,

Where locos and heroes are known,

We cradled the railway and made it our own,

Welcome to Shildon my home.

 

Our history is rich in this land,

In the footsteps of giants, we stand.

Their legacy’s passed down to you and to me,

Our future is bright don’t you see.

 

So welcome to Shildon my home,

Where a new generation are grown,

And when we are older one day we may roam,

But Shildon is always our home.

Welcome to Shildon my home,

Where locos and heroes are known,

We cradled the railway and made it our own,

Welcome to Shildon my home.

Written and sung by: Alex Summerson, Sam Slatcher & Timothy Hackworth Primary School (Year 4) 

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Wonderful Giants of Old

In Witton Park they dug the coal
To power the life of man
Take them up by Phoenix Row
By the ticket stand

 

They were wonderful giants of old
With only five miles to go


On the slopes of Etherley they sang
A song of victory
There’s a haulage drum that brings them up
And down by gravity

They were wonderful giants of old
With only four miles to go


As the sun comes up on Greenfield Road
A thousand are here today
They loaded up the sacks of flower
And soon were on their way


They were wonderful giants of old
With only three miles to go


They headed o' the Gaunless Bridge
Horse drawn on the flat
But up to Brusselton they’ll need
Something stronger than that

 

They were wonderful giants of old
With only two miles to go
 

They were at the top by 10 o’clock
13 wagons proud
Drop them down by 90 feet
And head to Shildon Town

They were wonderful giants of old
With only a mile to go


In Shildon Town, there was a plan
They’d be making history
Locomotion on the tracks
In a bellow of steam

They were wonderful giants of old
Almost ready to go 


Stephenson the fireman
And the guard was Timothy
Hackworth shouts “all ready now”
And they set off to the sea

They were wonderful giants of old
And now they’re ready to go!

Written and sung by: Sam Slatcher, Alex Summerson and participants of the workshops

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Set the World on Track 

 

Arise from my bed at 6.30

Put on my hobnail boots

Step into the streets so lonely

To follow my father’s routes

Soon, one by one we’re marching

Heading for the Wagon Works

Every door a shaft of light,

Another joins the fight

Til a sea of blue of overalls

Trickle becomes stream

The boy becomes a man

Iron forged to wheel

The day has just begun

 

Set the world on track

Set it all into motion

Set the towns a-dancing 
You and I will be the ocean
And boy we are the graft
Of steel, strength, togetherness and pride


My grandfather walked with way before me
And his father was a blacksmith son
They grew mighty with success
Hardship and distress
From the pit until they came up black

 

Put away my old school blazer

I’m off to learn my trade

Nerves take hold, a strange new world

Fifty lads hope to find their place


The siding feeds the branch line
And branch line feeds the main
A sea of blue went marching through
No prouder could we be


Set the world on track

Set it all into motion

Set the towns a-dancing 
You and I will be the ocean
And boy we are the graft
Of steel, strength and pride

 

And let the world come back
To find a place called Shildon
See what it’s all about
From the Wagon Works to Locomotion
And come to the source of the trickle
And let the river flow again and turn the tide

 

Though 40 years have past

Since I worked my last

Not a day goes by

Without the question on my mind

“Can you every lose your place in history?”

 

Without knowledge of one of history

You’ll never find your destiny

 

Trickle becomes stream

And stream becomes a river

River meets the sea

And turns the tides of history

Some days we may be a trickle

But we will become a stream

And the people will find the sea

And they’ll become like the wave

That turns the tides on Shildon’s legacy

Written and sung by: Samantha Townsend, Alex Summerson, Sam Slatcher, Colin White and participants of the workshops

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Shildon Town

 

It’s Shildon where we’re heading
It’s coal dust that we’re shedding
We’re off to somewhere new
Weardale, we’re leaving you

Behind us birds are flying
Our little train is climbing
To the heart, Shildon we’re coming
Laughing, dancing, meeting

Everybody’s celebrating
All the sounds of life beginning
As our train comes rolling in

Come down, come down,
Come down to the railway town 
There’s always a smile around
That you can rely on

Come down, come down,
Come down to Shildon town 
Where the gift to the world was found
As we ride down the railway line

Now those pioneers from Darlo
Brought the wagons and the cargo
With a flash of inspiration
Built a brand new steam creation

 

And though the works are now gone
It’s legacy still lives on
Climb on board now, for our next ride
Over the bridge on the riverside
Filling its people with joy and with pride
Down to the ocean that’s opening wide
As our train comes rolling in

Come down, come down,
Come down to the railway town 
There’s always a smile around
That you can rely on

Come down, come down,
Come down to Shildon town 
Where the gift to the world was found
As we ride

From the coal face, to the Tees
Oh we still dream
Of endless possibilities
Though life moves on
Not the spirit, nor the song
For the railway carries on!


Come down, come down,
Come down to the railway town 
There’s always a smile around
That you can rely on

Come down, come down,
Come down to Shildon town 
Where the gift to the world was found
In the cradle of the railway line

Written and sung by: Alex Summerson, Cindy Luo, Sam Slatcher,  & Timothy Hackworth Primary School (Year 4)