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The museum is situated in the former home of Timothy Hackworth, "Soho House", or "Soho Cottage", which was the preferred name of the Hackworth family. Built on the original Stockton and Darlington Railway Shildon Works site, which later, when Timothy Hackworth launched his own engineering works, became "Soho Works".
The museum tells the story of the part played by Timothy Hackworth in the birth of passenger railways with the Stockton and Darlington Railway, and the contribution he and the people of Shildon made to the development of the railways throughout the world.
With the rooms restored to the original 1831 period, audio visual displays and exhibits demonstrate the development of the early railways.
Around the 15 acre site there remains relics of the days when the Stockton and Darlington Railway were the centre of the railway revolution. The Soho Engine Shed features a hot air underground heating system, the purpose of which was to dry newly painted locomotives; the Black Boy Stables which played an everyday working part in the Company and the important contribution they played in the movement of coal from the South Durham coalfields.
The village of New Shildon was established by Timothy Hackworth and grew around his works and home and as the importance of the Stockton and Darlington Railway became more prominent, combined with Old Shildon, they became Shildon Town, one of the major railway engineering towns in the world.
The influence on the life of the townsfolk, who were predominantly employed on the railways, can still be felt today.