Freight train on The Cuckoo Line

This photograph shows a scene that is now changed almost beyond recognition  A mixed freight train comes down the bank through open fields and passes the Co-op (now Elmtree) Social Club on Bishopton Road West on 26 August 1961.

Photograph and details courtesy of Peter Rigg.

15 thoughts on “Freight train on The Cuckoo Line

  1. Did this railway line pass under a bridge on Harrowgate Lane near Hardwick social club, or was there crossing gates at this junction.


  2. Lots of change in the area since this photo was taken. I use the cycle track/walkway on a regular basis and have often wondered where it went after crossing Darlington road near the bowling club (I think it’s called East End Bowling) at Hartburn. I did think it followed the more recent/newer part of the walkway which pass’s the Brickie and then joined the mainline from Stockton to Yarm which can be seen when taking this route which runs underneath the A66 however I now know I was wrong.
    After speaking to a neighbour who operated Steam trains during his working life on this old line (and many others) I have been corrected. The railway line evidently ran on the other side of the Brickie, between it and the rear gardens of the houses (I think it’s Smithfield road or similar) on the little estate opposite the main entrance to Ropner park. It then went over the Stockton to Yarm line by way of a bridge (the abutments are still there) then ran passed the rear gardens on the opposite side of the track (the old estate on Yarm Road on the same side as and closest to the pub (Eaglescliffe), formerly the Cattle Market so I’m told), then underneath Yarm road and running to the right side of the little park now there and the new estate and onto Bowesfield junction.
    The old bridge which ran over Darlington road near the bowling club was an engineering marvel in bricks and its such a shame it was demolished


  3. Hi Colin I lived facing the farm in the Dutch barn houses I loved playing in the fields just below the bridge I do remember your name did you live off the avenue. Marilyn Scott


  4. Just came across this photo. Wonderful childhood memories of being lifted up by my mum so I could see the trains passing under Bishopton Road West bridge.


  5. The building in the background on the right, Boldon House, was once an RAF “Y” station. It was operational during world war one when it was listening for radio messages from German Zeppelins & U-boats. The two main buildings and a small part of the boundary fence still exist as part of a private home just off Marley Close, Elm Tree.


  6. Spent many happy Saturday afternoons during the late 50s as kids at a footbridge further down the line behind the photographer and the Bishopton Road bridge on which he is standing with our bottle of wrights lemonade or dandelion and burdock and the obligitary bag of sweets. Laying pennies on the line to see them flattened by a loco. Just before the line closed I was fortunate to photograph a few passenger trains, a rare treat, obviously due to a diversion from the coast route. I always knew this line as the “cuckoo line” but never found out why, does anybody know.?


    • I was always led to believe that the line was called “The Cuckoo Railway” as the electric locomotives that hauled the coal in the early part of the 20th century had a whistle that sounded like the call of a cuckoo.


    • Hi Colin I lived facing the farm in the Dutch barn houses I loved playing in the fields just below the bridge. I do remember your name did you live off the avenue Marilyn Scott.


  7. Sorry, Anon – the loco was number 92060, one of Tyne Dock’s allocation. The air pump for operating the hopper doors on the ore trains is visible on the photograph, but hidden under the Picture Stockton watermark on the enlarged copy.


  8. Incredible photograph and what memories, looking out over open countryside and farmland which in the next ten years or so would be built over; and of course the ‘cuckoo’ railway itself, closed in 1967 and subsequently lifted. A quiet Saturday afternoon by the date given and the train’s shadow. The engine is a BR Standard 9F 2-10-0 and like the railway and the farm land its life expectancy was short, c1966, despite it being a fairly new machine in 1961. Though not identified it may have been one of Tyne Dock’s allocation of ten 9Fs which were mainly used on iron ore trains from Tyne Dock to Consett Iron Works -another place there is now no trace of. Occasionally, at quiet periods for ore traffic, other sheds would borrow a 9F from Tyne Dock and the train is likely to be heading for the Middlesbrough area from Tyneside.


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