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Stephenson College was founded in September 2001 at Queen’s Campus in Stockton-on-Tees and is named after George Stephenson a great inventor and social innovator. The College relocated to Durham City in 2018 and is now located on Howlands Farm, south of the city.  

George Stephenson wooden Sculpture in Platform 1

George Stephenson 

George Stephenson was born at Wylam, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on 9th June 1781. At the age of 14 he joined his father (a colliery fireman) to work at a local colliery. He was illiterate but ambitious and, at 18, began evening classes where he learnt to read and write. 

In 1802 he was married and became a colliery engineman. The following year Robert, his only son, was born. His wife suffered poor health and she died of consumption in 1806. 

In 1808 he became an engineman at Killingworth Colliery. Within four years he had become the colliery's enginewright and, in 1814, he completed the construction of his steam-powered engine, the Blutcher, capable of pulling thirty tons up a hill at 4 mph. Engine design was not his only claim to fame and, in 1815, he developed a miners' safety lamp (independently of Humphry Davy). 

In 1823 the Robert Stephenson & Company of Newcastle-upon-Tyne became the world's first locomotive builder. The first railway locomotive was, aptly, christened "Locomotion". The Stockton & Darlington line opened on 27th September, 1825 and large crowds saw Stephenson at the controls of Locomotion as it pulled 36 wagons filled with sacks of coal and flour. The journey, of just under 9 miles, took two hours and during the final descent into Stockton, speeds of 15 mph (24kph) were reached. 

Stephenson died on 12th August 1848 at his home and is buried in Trinity Church, Chesterfield. His name will always be associated with the creation of the railway system. By force of personality, and as a tireless and enthusiastic promoter of the concept of the railway, he achieved undeniable greatness and is seen as a true pioneer. 

Our Motto 

In a letter to one of his contemporaries, Stephenson wrote 'one day I shall astonish the world'. He did indeed astonish the world through his many achievements, principally via his pioneering work on the Locomotion and rail travel which transformed the world.  His words, translated into Latin, have been adopted as the College motto:'me quondam mirabitur orbis'. We hope that each of our students will, at some time and in their own way, astonish the world. 

Front of Stephenson College featuring raised beds in the foreground

Howlands Farm 

We relocated to Howlands Farm in Durham City in the summer of 2018 and our neighbour is Josephine Butler College. 

Originally a barn, ‘Stephenson Central’, Stephenson’s main College building at Howlands, maintains its rustic character with its high beamed roof. The vegetable beds at the front of the college promote sustainability, wellbeing and community and add to the charm of the building. 

Located near to the Botanic Gardens and woodlands, the site boasts ample green space around the College for sports, socialising and taking relaxing walks. There’s even an allotment! 

Queen’s Campus 

Until 2018, Stephenson College was based at the University’s Queen’s Campus in Stockton-On-Tees. Initially named University College Stockton, the campus welcomed its first cohort of 190 students in October 1992, with HRH Elizabeth II officially opening the campus in 1993.  

In 2001 Stephenson College and John Snow College were established, in line with the University’s collegiate traditions.