Soho House


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Soho House, Hackworth Close, Shildon, being part of Locomotion, The National Rail Museum at Shildon, Dale Road Industrial Estate, Shildon DL4 2RE


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Soho House, Hackworth Close, Shildon, being part of Locomotion, The National Rail Museum at Shildon, Dale Road Industrial Estate, Shildon DL4 2RE
County Durham (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


House, early C19, built for Timothy Hackworth, the pioneering engineer of early steam locomotives who played a significant role in the early success and international influence of the Stockton & Darlington Railway.

Reasons for Designation

Soho House, Shildon is included on the List at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * built in local vernacular style, Soho House forms part of a terrace of railway workers’ housing which is amongst the earliest built anywhere in the world.

Historic interest: * as the house built for Timothy Hackworth, the pioneering engineer of early steam locomotives who was responsible for much of the early success and international influence of the Stockton & Darlington Railway; * as the principal building that was preserved to form the Timothy Hackworth Museum as part of the Stockton & Darlington Railway 150th anniversary celebrations in 1975 which also saw the opening of the National Railway Museum in York.

Group value: * one of a group of early railway related structures in Shildon, dubbed the ‘cradle of the railways’.


Soho House, originally known as Soho Cottage, was built no later than mid-1833 for Timothy Hackworth (1786-1850). Hackworth was the Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR) first Superintendent of Locomotives. He had been appointed on the recommendation of George Stephenson in 1825 shortly after he had declined an offer of partnership in Robert Stephenson & Company, the world’s first dedicated locomotive works. Hackworth was a skilled early locomotive engineer, having assisted William Hedley in 1813-1815 in the construction of Puffing Billy and two other locomotives at Wylam Colliery. As the chief resident engineer for the S&DR he modified and rebuilt the locomotives supplied by Stephenson and went on to design and build new locomotives for the company, ensuring the early success of the S&DR. Hackworth’s willingness to share information with visiting engineers and railway promoters resulted in the S&DR significantly influencing the development of other early railways both in England and abroad. Hackworth was responsible for several early developments and inventions concerning steam locomotives, but took out few patents and, unlike some contemporary engineers, appears to have been uninterested in self-promotion. Notable locomotives include the Royal George (1827) which firmly established the advantage of steam locomotives over horse-haulage for goods trains; the Sans Pareil (1829) which lost against Stephenson’s Rocket at the Liverpool & Manchester Railway’s Rainhill Trials in 1829, but went on to have a longer working life than the Rocket, and the Globe (1830), the S&DR’s first dedicated passenger locomotive, said to be able to reach 50mph. In 1833 Hackworth established Soho Works on land immediately adjacent to his house whilst still undertaking duties for the S&DR including the management of the company’s Shildon Works up until 1840. Soho Works built Russia’s first steam locomotive (1836) and three of the earliest locomotives used in Canada (1838). The workers’ cottages attached to Soho House (separately listed) are also thought to have been built for Hackworth. The house (along with the cottages and Soho Works) were put up for sale in 1852 following the death of Hackworth (1850) and his wife Jane (1852), the house being described as ‘containing on the ground floor three sitting rooms, kitchen, dairy, and store pantries over which are seven bedrooms and a lobby’. The property was finally bought by the S&DR in 1855, Soho House being shown as undivided on the sale deeds. Although Soho House was depicted as divided into two by the 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map of 1857, its garden was undivided: the whole property is thought to have become the residence of William Bouch (1813-1876) who in 1840 had taken over from Hackworth as the S&DR’s Superintendent of Locomotives and who continued in that role, following the merger with the North Eastern Railway in 1863, until his death in 1876. After Bouch’s death, it appears that Soho House was let as two residences: the 1881-1901 censuses indicating that these were occupied by the station master and foreman or manager of the wagon works. Soho House remained in railway ownership as workers’ housing until 1966 when it was included in a transfer of 131 properties to the local authority. Although its historical interest had been recognised by the London North Eastern Railway in 1947 with the installation of a plaque to Hackworth, by the early 1970s it had become derelict and was scheduled for demolition. However Soho House was saved, being extensively renovated and opened as the Timothy Hackworth Museum in 1975 as part of the S&DR’s 150th anniversary celebrations. A new round of renovations, in preparation for the 200th anniversary, commenced in 2020.


House, early C19, for Timothy Hackworth, Superintendent of Locomotives for the Stockton & Darlington Railway 1825-1840, subsequently divided into two houses for railway managers. Renovated as a museum in 1975.

MATERIALS: dressed sandstone laid to courses, renewed pantile roof, buff brick chimney stacks with square, buff pots.

PLAN: appears as a pair of double-fronted properties with straight stairs rising from just inside their central front doors, the two being interconnected internally. EXTERIOR: the frontage is quoined, being of two storeys and six bays, to appear as a symmetrical pair of properties, the central bay to the first floor of each property being blind, but with a reproduction lantern set above the central front doors below. The front door to each property is six-panelled and has a simple multi-paned overlight, all set within a 1975 reproduction classical-style doorcase with fluted pilasters supporting a frieze and cornice. Windows are renewed timber six-over-six pane sashes with monolithic lintels and projecting sills. The eaves has a moulded ashlar cornice. Gables are coped and have shaped kneelers. The end stacks and central ridge stack are matching, rebuilt in brick, each with three pots. The rear outshut, rebuilt in 1975, is of one-and-a-half storeys and has end stacks.

INTERIOR: is largely the result of renovation as 1970s refurbishment as part of the railway museum, Soho House including some reinstated Victorian fireplaces and kitchen ranges and items of joinery including some sets of window shutters.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Smith, GT, A Railway History of New Shildon, (2019)
Hackworth Young, J, 'S&DR House Plaques: New Shildon' in The Globe, Journal of the Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, , Vol. 12, (2020), 10-15
Andy Guy, ' Soho House (Timothy Hackworth’s house) & cottages, Shildon : a research report prepared for the National Railway Museum' (2009). [National Railway Museum York E5B/244]
Archaeo-Environment “The 1825 Stockton and Darlington Railway: Historic Environment Audit” report for Durham County Council, Darlington Borough Council and Stockton Council, (2016)
D G Baker 'Restoration Works Soho House' (1977) (Typescript report documenting the 1975 restoration, copy held by the Friends of Stockton & Darlington Railway)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 12 Mar 2001
Reference: IOE01/03241/05
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Alan Bradley. Source Historic England Archive
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