A photograph taken by me of a Class 37 loco no. 6893 on the Seal Sands causeway, hauling 4 empty liquified ammonia tank wagons from Monsanto Textiles Ltd to Shellstar, Thameshaven. The loaded train had arrived in darkness. This was the first timetabled movement on the Seal Sands branch. Previously, during the plant’s commissioning, trains had run as specials, as required. I was British Rail’s local operations supervisor, and had gone there in the 5 cwt Bedford van which is on the photograph, 26th May 1970.
Photograph and details courtesy of Brian Johnson.
We moved into Elizabeth way, Seaton Carew in March 1968, and there was nothing on Seal Sands at that time. I Can remember going down Tees road with my dad in the car and getting to the turn off, and that was as far as you could go at one point. The flamingo was in the pond if you were lucky to see it. The only piece of industry at that time on the river was the Shell refinery (now long gone). The reclaimed land was filled in using ‘Slag’ from the North & South Steel works and slag heaps at Hartlepool. Looking from our house, the cricket club was on the other side of Tees road adjoining the golf club practice ground, there was no Redcar steel works, no Power station, no Tioxide, literally only Monsanto and ICI North Tees works were visible at that time.
I travel this road every working day and it is no longer a causeway but now surrounded on all sides by industrial plants built on reclaimed land – the railway is still next to the road but seldom used. My first visit to Seal Sands was in 1971 when I worked at ICI North Tees and visited the ICI brine wells so I do remember the road being along this causeway – over the years the land was slowly reclaimed, the last section to be reclaimed was a large lake roughly behind where Brian was stood when he took his photo, construction workers who built the Seal Sands plants may remember that for many years the lake was home to a pink Flamingo.
Yes, I remember the Pink Flamingo. It was there for a long time, we always thought it had escaped from a zoo.