Blacketts Brickwork Bridge

t12976‘Blacketts Brickworks Bridge’ railway branch was built off the loop line which ran from Norton round to the south part of ICI. This branch crossed Lustrum Beck over a very roughly built bridge which carried both the single line of railway and a roadway into Blacketts Brickworks in Portrack.

t12975To give a continuous gradient the rail track was at a much higher level than the road. Even so the gradient was quite steep, which may be a reason why it was hardly ever used. For long periods one would see a couple of trucks stuck on the line. The road was just a farm track which ran along the railway towards Danby Road. The yellow loading crane in the photograph was part of a short lived attempt to construct a Freightliner terminal at this point in the late sixties.  

Photographs and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

5 thoughts on “Blacketts Brickwork Bridge

  1. Jonathan May asks where was “Blacketts Bridge” bridge, and, as he says, it is near Holme House Prison. I have checked on Google maps and it appears that the bridge is still there. There is a track leading to the bridge from the west side of Kingsport Close in Portrack. In my day, up to 1972, when the level of the “Rocks” or Portrack Shamrocks field was raised by dumping earth and rubble in it to stop it being flooded from Lustrum Beck, the bridge was reached by a simple footpath.

    This ran along the west side of the Rocks field and started from a cinder track which down went past the Co-op garages in Portrack. The path was at quite a low level compared to Blacketts Brickworks, by which it ran past. There are two pictures of the Co-op garages on the Picture Stockton website. One is a photograph, and the other is a sketch by me showing Blacketts works.

    Over the years the parapets on the bridge were demolished by local vandals, and the concrete blocks fell into the beck just below the bridge. These formed a very uneven set of stepping stones, but when the beck was in flood it resulted in huge rapids as the water funnelled its way underneath the bridge and then hit the concrete blocks which had fallen into the water


  2. Thanks fo Frank’s clarifcation about the use Freightline Depot near Blacketts. My impression about its lack of use was formed from relatively infrequent trips back to Portrack and walks back along the path, by the railway, back to Norton. The only time I saw it in use was in 1972, when I picture of mine, taken form Kingsport Close, which is on the website, shows a number of trucks in the depot.

    I am not sure when this set of pictures was taken, I would guess that they date from the early nineties. It sounds like the Depot was in use for about 20-25 year, construction having started in the late sixties.

    The place where Portrack Lane crossed the railway has now been taken up by a roundabout.


    • Jonthan if you walked up South Road Norton from the red Lion there was a foot path that went through the Freightliner Depot which was once Lamberts Farm, Home House was built on part of that farm as the track came out at what is now Portrack Roundabout I believe it was called Portrack back lane. The truck entrance was from that roundabout and through what is now part of B&Q Parr’s etc with the Checking office and main gate exit almost where Parr’s is now. That is Parr’s showroom shop not the depot which is on the other side of the road.
      Fred you would not see a lot of activity because all the trucks would be out delivering and picking up Containers. The first trucks would be away by 5 am and then a half hourly start up to the last going out around 9 am at times two or three together, that way they were not all coming back at the same time and queueing for the crane lifts. I remember one day we were bringing containers from Middlesbrough docks and I never saw another truck until lunch time, I found them all at Lanny’s Cafe lined up neat as you like.
      The yard crew would load the trains ready for the night runs and that meant unloading and stacking the incoming containers. A driver would check into the office on arrival then up the yard and box off another on just took minutes, check out at the office and be gone back on the road.
      It was a slick system and took trucks off the main trunking routs, one train equalled a lot of trucks and two left every night.
      Those men worked hard and were not well paid by the then standards, I was a mystery man as I did not give them any history of what I had been, to me it was a therapy, once on the road you were your own man, picked your own rout and worked to your Tachograph, plus little did they know I was on far better money than them from the agency.
      Some of the things that happened on that job still make me smile and then I was kidnapped by Doves and that was even more fun.


  3. Fred, rather puzzled by the “short lived” reference to the Freightliner Depot. They were there until the Nineties when they moved lock stock and barrel to Wilton ICI complex alongside the Redcar trunk Road near the main entrance to ICI Wilton on that same Trunk road.
    How do I know? Well I drove for them. On a long leave I would sign on with an Agency for a few days driving having in the early days a truck licence and after 1970 a HGV licence, drivers were in big demand, so I drove ERF trucks back then and it was a busy depot.
    After leaving the army then retiring from ICI in the late eighties to get out from under my wife’s feet I signed on with the Agency again for a couple of days a week. Straight back to Freightliner driving big Volvo’s by then and still very busy.
    We had to drop off Containers to empty from the incoming trains, pick up loaded containers to go back on those trains for the night runs, one South and one North, drivers often started at 5 am and others would still be going at 8 pm, those trains had to be got out on time.
    We drove fairly long distances to drop and pick up containers although quite often it would be Wilton and back several times a day.
    They had some big trucks taking all size containers and often on the long trailers two containers, though not too often. I have a file full of stories about the men and jobs we did, I was asked for by the manager, hated by the Shop Steward and totally inured to it all. It was fun, I did not work for the money, and rules were made for wimps so you can imagine why the Shop Steward and I were clashing horns. After all the responsibility I had carried for years it was recreation to me and I still laugh thinking of those stories, dont ask me about the Bananas?


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