The plan to raise steam back at Darlington began around June 1980. During a chance discussion between Mr. Barry Cox and Mr. Barrie Lamb, a chance remark made them realise that one of the few places that had not taken the opportunity to preserve steam was Darlington. Within a couple of weeks the two Barry's conducted a feasibilty study, and found great support from the North Road Museum Friends Society, and from a large number of enthusiasts. Around this time the Darlington-built locomotive "Joem" was on the market for sale, so an approach was made to the owner for details.
By October 1980, this group of people had collated all the relevant information, talked to the owner of "Joem", and decided to hold a public meeting on November 20th, with the idea of forming a Preservation Society. A steering committee was elected with the purchase of "Joem" as its immediate objective, but a closing date of December 31st, fixed by "Joem"s owner, proved to be a major stumbling block. With other difficulties arising, the Society called a meeting at which they formally withdrew from negotiations. At this meeting the sixty members present proposed that the DARLINGTON RAILWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY should be officially formed as from January 1981. One of the members present that evening, Mr. Geoff Jackson, drew attention to the B.R. Standard 2MT locomotive no. 78018 that was for sale at Market Bosworth in Leicestershire.
In February 1981, with a re-oriented campaign and a re-formed working committee, a determined effort was made to establish a trust, and to finalise details of membership and constitution. At frequent meetings the nine members of the working committee discussed fund-raising, and assessed the pros and cons of purchasing 78018. They realised that this could be the last chance of returning a Darlington-built locomotive to its birth-place. It was decided to visit Market Bosworth and view 78018 at first hand. On the visit financial terms were agreed with the owner, Mr.Bill Barton. Fortified by a good report from a boiler inspector, the working committee then decided to go forward and prepare the ground, and to make enquiries for transport, housing, etc., as well as arranging publicity and encouraging every effort to raise funds to purchase the locomotive. At a full meeting in April 1981, all the up-to-date information, for and against the project, was put to the Society members, and approval to proceed was unanimous.
The next item to arrange was 78018's Home-Coming. The society members thought that, since the locomotive was to be given a civic reception on arrival here, a work party should travel to Market Bosworth to tidy and paint it. Contact was made with Mr.Dave Johnson at Market Bosworth, and he kindly arranged sleeping accommodation in one of their coaches for the weekend. A party of ten members travelled to Bosworth on Friday 12th June, supplemented by a further party of eight on the Sunday.