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Killingworth Billy

  • Builder: George Stephenson

  • Built in: 1816

  • Wheel Arrangement: 0-4-0

  • Worked for: Killingworth Colliery

  • Current Status: Static Exhibit

A recent archaeological survey carried out on Billy revealed that the locomotive is even older than previously thought. The report, produced in March 2018 concludes that Billy was built in 1816, not 1826, and establishes the locomotive as the third oldest surviving locomotive in the world.


Billy was initially fabricated and assembled at Killingworth Colliery’s West Moor workshops under the supervision of George Stephenson. The engine was used to haul waggons carrying coal from Killingworth Colliery to the River Tyne. Although none of Billy’s surviving components can be traced back to 1816, it has features that, despite being later replacements, provide a clear footprint of the original; primarily it retains the same standard track gauge set by George Stephenson at that time (4ft 8½in), and also the distance between the two cylinders and the axles presents a unique identifier. Billy is now determined to be the world's oldest surviving standard gauge steam locomotive. Built thirteen years before the more famous Rocket, this was one of the most innovative transport systems of its day.


It is often referred to as the Killingworth Billy to differentiate it from Puffing Billy, built by William Hedley in 1813 for the Wylam Colliery. Killingworth Billy ran until 1881, when it was presented to the City of Newcastle upon Tyne. It is a stationary exhibit, mounted on a short stretch of period track with block-mounted rails, to remain compatible with horse-drawn trains. Horses would have been tripped up by conventional sleepers.

Killingworth Billy, a very old steam engine with wooden barrel appearance.
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