Edward Pease (1767 – 1858)

Edward Pease
by William Miller, circa 1820-1850
NPG D8024
© National Portrait Gallery, London

The Pease family are central to the story of the Tees Valley. From opening the first public railway in the world, to igniting the meteoric growth of Middlesbrough, this family of Quakers from Darlington were pivotal to the development of the area and its identity as an industrial powerhouse. They used their fortune and influence to support anti-slavery and peace campaigns, helping people across Britain and the wider world.

In 1825 Edward Pease opened the Stockton & Darlington Railway. This was the world’s first public railway and the start of a transport revolution.  Edward initially built the Railway to transport coal, but captured the public’s imagination by including a carriage called Experiment, which carried passengers alongside the wagons of coal on its opening journey. The steam locomotives could pull much heavier loads than horses and travel at faster speeds and so were much more efficient than canals or horse-and-cart. They soon became popular with local businesses and with passengers. As a result of the Railway’s success, new lines began to open across the area and a network of railways developed across the country. Edward became known as the ‘father of the railways’.

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