9 thoughts on “Bowesfield Signal Box c1966

  1. A very mixed freight of loose coupled wagons. They look in poor condition, possibly heading for scrapping or Shildon Wagon works, although at this time, freight transport was changing. The whole scene would have been common place ten years earlier. The locomotive itself a class4 2-6-0, built by Ivatt in 1950, and one of a class, which British rail based it’s own class 4 standard locomotives on, only had a short time left itself, being withdrawn in December 1966. By this time Thornaby locomotive depot, had finished with steam, and only Hartlepool in the Teesside area remained with steam, although Sunderland and Tynedock also retained steam, until the end in September 1967. A few years earlier this junction would have been busy, with a number of loco’s waiting for the right of way. These days, Tees yard is only a shadow of it’s former self, and Thornaby depot, which was the last to be built with steam locomotive operation in mind, and built to house 200 locomotives, is no more.

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  2. I like this workaday shot and was at Grangefield with “Maccer” in the 1960s, both of us keen if a tad unruly members of the school railway society. Notice: the shunter’s pole perched on the bufferbeam, the dangling screw-coupling and the head(lamp) code for a Class 7 goods, i.e. “Express freight not fitted with continuous brake” according to Ian Allan. Ivatt Class 4 2-6-0 43057 was at Thornaby MPD around this time. Suitably cleaner, you’d even then occasionally see one heading an Engineer’s Special Inspection saloon, which offered great comfort, hot food and drink to the very hard-working senior engineers having a great day out… Just take in the assortment of wagons on this long train, which could equally have been routed via “The Cuckoo” past our school, or may that line have been closed by then? The main lines running closest to the camera appear to be in good order, but all trains – like Elvis Presley describing his earlier time in the US Tank Corps – would “rock and roll a bit” over the junction itself!

    I was dispatched to work on busy Thornaby Area the year after and plenty of our track further north along the coast was “of poor geometry” (dipped joints and the more dangerous ‘twists’). Derailments of coal trains seemed to be frequent. However, nearer home, Bill Walton, a ‘no-nonsense’ man, who was great to yarn with in the office set on Thornaby station, was the strict supervisor in charge of the section covering Bowesfield. By his retirement, pipe-smoking Bill had seen the complex pointwork here (middle of train) renewed several times. Now I am past Bill’s retirement age. Look at the plethora of point “rodding” which would be heavy to shift from the mostly manual (levers) signalbox. The siding connecting Metropolitan Vickers(?) loco works (behind camera) to the system still seems in use. I was once allowed to drive their works diesel shunter along it, although obviously access to the BR lines would have been locked-out by ‘trap’ points (out of shot). On the other side of the tracks was a siding that would, on East Coast Main Line “diversionary” weekends via Stockton, be occupied by one of Darlington’s diminishing stud of Pacific engines. From such siding, an engine could be signalled to point either north or south, i.e. to take over from a ‘failed’ diesel. The route of the earlier Stockton & Darlington Railway might have ‘crossed’ to reach St John’s Crossing (“Stockton Goods”) about here? Must go – almost in tears by now.

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  3. There is a very good chance that my late Dad, George Merrifield, was the signalman on duty. All his working life was with British Rail

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    • I remember your dad well Susan at this time I don’t think he went to Bowesfield he was at that time a relief signalman class 2 and Bowesfield was then a special b your dad was a good signalman and a really nice bloke to work with, David in 1966 believe me Bowesfield was still a very busy box with a very heavy junction and two man working, it kept both on their toes and you certainly knew you had worked a shift there.

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      • My dad was also a relief signalman based at Stockton, Phil McAndrew, he spent most of his working life in Signal boxes from Stockton to Whitby, Picton, as well as Urlay Nook, ICI and Bowesfield Lane. A lady named Dorothy used to work at Stockton Station, I think she gave him the shifts he had to work!

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        • Dorothy Barclay was the lady she was the station masters assistant at Stockton then when Zetland House opened she went there as roster clerk, lovely lady who died not so long ago, I knew your dad well Hazel we used to live round the corner when my mam lived in Romsey Road and he lived in Rhyde Road he later moved to near the Mile House on Durham Road. Your dad was a lovely man Hazel always studying his system for the horses. The ICI boxes were Haverton station and Belasis. Phil never went to Bowesfield it would have been to busy for him to study the horses he was one of those signalmen who made my time working on the railway pleasurable. Hope you are well Hazel

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