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[My work is] big on gesture and big in proportion, it demands your attention and gets it” (David Mach)

Train by David Mach, unveiled in 1997

Train (or ‘Brick Train’ as it’s commonly known) is a sculpture by Scottish artist David Mach. It is situated next to the A66, in a shopping area on the outskirts of Darlington. It was commissioned by the local council and was one of the first pieces of public art to be commissioned as part of a regeneration initiative in the local area. It was unveiled in 1997.

Made of 185,000 bricks, Train is made to look as though it has just come out of a tunnel, complete with billowing brick smoke. It is modelled on the famous locomotive, Mallard, which broke the world speed record for steam in 1938, by travelling at 126 mph. The giant sculpture is 7 metres high and 29 metres long – over three times the length of a double-decker bus. The structure is hollow, providing space for time capsules created by local schools, and includes 20 hollow bricks designed to encourage bats to nest inside.

The brick train is a celebration of Darlington’s extraordinary railway heritage. In 1825, thousands of local people witnessed the opening of the now famous Stockton and Darlington Railway, the world’s first ever publicly owned steam powered railway to carry goods and passengers. Its success sparked a revolution in transport and travel, leading to a network of railways which transformed Britain and stretched around the world.

The commission for Train was a controversial one with some local people arguing it was an ‘inexcusable waste of money’. Over 20 years later, it has become a much-loved landmark, garnering a sense of pride in the local area and its heritage. David Mach is one of the UK’s most successful artists. He is known for his dynamic and imaginative large-scale collage, sculpture and installations using a wide range of materials, including mass-produced and found objects such as coat hangers, matches, tyres and magazines.

Find out more about the Tees’s Valley extraordinary railway heritage here
See more works by David Mach here

Our Tees Valley Museums Local Art and Artists: Activities is available to download here


Image courtesy of Darlington Borough Council