Old Billingham Station, 1966

This photograph was taken on 4th November 1966 on the last day of working at the old Billingham station before closure. It shows diesel D5159 based at Thornaby Sheds. Although the station was closed the goods yard stayed in operation until 1979 mainly doing work for the London Brick Company.

Details courtesy of Martin Birtle, photograph courtesy of John Hardy.

Corporation Bus Model

This is a hand finished model of an “O” bus that my brother recently got for me. It was made by a gentleman who lives somewhere in North Yorkshire. It looks quite authentic with the spattering of mud along the sides and rear. Also detailed is the address of the General Manager and Engineer, WC Wilson, whose department was in Church Road. Presumably that was in the new Council Offices. Has anyone any idea of the capacity of these buses and what was engine and horsepower?

Photographs and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

Bowesfield Junction, 1980

I took these images on a visit to Bowesfield signal box one Saturday afternoon during 1980. The box always interested me due to its complexity of junctions, and the volume of traffic it controlled at that time. The following day, I went on to photograph a number of signals and junctions that came under the control of this iconic location.

Photographs and details courtesy of Steve Edge Robinson.

Teesside Airport Control Tower c1960s

This photograph of the control tower at Tees-Side airport was taken just a few years after it was taken under the control of the local councils. I thought it very apt as the wheel has turned full circle and it is once again under local council control.

The original spelling was with a hyphen, this was of course later changed to a single word. The building its self has a definite 1930s look about it, the curved corners and windows have an Art Deco feel about them.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

Bridge House, St Johns Crossing. A New Plaque and a Wrong put Right

A little piece of our railway history has been restored and returned to its rightful place on the wall of Bridge House at St Johns Crossing on the corner of Bridge Road and ‘1825 Way’, the A135. On the 27 September 2018 the 1925 plaque celebrating 100 years of the railways and the Stockton & Darlington Railway in particular, was unveiled for the second time on the building at St John’s Crossing which is said to be the worlds first railway ticket office but was in all probability a weigh house for the ticketing of coal wagons whilst passenger tickets were bought at the local inns.

The plaque was originally installed on what were buildings still in railway ownership at the time and was unveiled on 2 July 1925 by the Duke & Duchess of York, later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Why 2 July?  Until 1925, and at all anniversaries and celebrations since, the railway birthday has been celebrated in September to coincide with the opening day of the S&DR on the 27 September 1825 but in 1925, a major international rail conference and exhibition was hosted by Great Britain and it was felt international delegates may not visit twice in such quick succession so the birth of the railways was moved forward for that one year. In the historical photographs the Duke in a bowler hat and Duchess are shown immediately before and after the unveiling ceremony.  The gentleman with the beard is the well known local industrialist Sir Hugh Bell whilst the gentleman wearing the mayoral chains is Leonard Ropner the then Mayor of Stockton.

The plaque remained in-situ mounted on its stone block on the north face of the building but was moved to the west face of the building and re-installed without the stone block perhaps when ‘1825 Way’ was opened but as a consequence it’s lower position on the wall would make it vulnerable to both vandalism and theft. Sadly the plaque was stolen but fortunately later recovered however attempts had be made to break the plaque castings into smaller pieces, presumably to make it more transportable and possibly also more attractive to scrap merchants? The plaque was placed in storage with the William Lane Foundry in Middlesbrough which was, and still is, the last remaining brass foundry in this area. The outer frame, although suffering minor damage was found to be re-usable but the inner plaque was damaged beyond repair, being cracked into two pieces with slivers of metal missing and in addition, six of the seven minor decorative scrolls were missing.

On the evening of Monday 10 July 2017 BBC Look North ran a feature about the William Lane Foundry and tantalisingly and very clearly in the background of the film footage could be seen the remains of the plaque. Several people immediately recognised the plaque and the significance of it’s unscripted reappearance and this re-ignited enthusiasm for restoring the plaque and an exploratory meeting of interested parties quickly took place.  A project team was created comprising of Bridge House Mission, the charity who now own the buildings and therefore the plaque, Stockton Borough Council, William Lane Foundry, Stone Technical Services, a Darlington-based company who specialise in the restoration and conservation of historic and heritage buildings and the Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway.

A fund-raising campaign was started primarily in the form of a Just Giving page set up by the Friends but with the Bridge House Mission as the beneficiary and the appeal reached its target very quickly thanks primarily to the amazing generosity of one proud Stocktonian, who asked for no further publicity. An approach seeking publicity only was also made to the Railway Heritage Trust but this actually resulted in a discretionary grant offer from them and Stockton Borough Council also offered financial support. So with finance secured contracts were placed with the William Lane Foundry and Stone Technical Services with the replacement inner plaque being re-cast at the foundry with this inner plaque and decorative scrolls being re-assembled with the outer plaque which remained untouched and original.

The restored and re-installed plaque was unveiled on Bridge House by the Mayor Of Stockton Councillor Eileen Johnson on Thursday 27 September 2018, the 193rd Anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. As a nod to the past, or perhaps a tilt of the then Dukes bowler hat, the plaque has been returned to it’s original position on the north wall of Bridge House and hopefully at a height to deter any future thoughts of it’s illicit removal, again!

The original damaged plaque is now in the safe keeping of Stockton Council who intend that it will eventually go on display in Preston Hall Museum and in 2025 it will play a significant part in the Bi-Centenary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. Not long to wait!

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

Eaglescliffe Railway Station c1930

A ships rudder weighing 54 Tons is seen here at Eaglescliffe Railway Station on the 8 May 1930 on it’s way from the Darlington Forge Works to Middlesbrough Docks.
The new replacement rudder for the RMS Aquitania measured 19 x 28 feet and over-hung the flat railcar by 13 feet which gave little room for manoeuvre when the train passed signal posts, loading ramps and passenger platforms along it’s route and it was here at Eaglescliffe were the rudder came closest to a signal only missing it by 3 inches! Interestingly the press report states both Eagles Cliff and the Port Of Middlesbrough from were the rudder was loaded onto a cargo ship which took it down to Southampton.

Photograph and details courtesy of David Thompson and Charles Young.