Locomotion ~ December 2022

I know last week I said I’d be posting the photos of the old gun battery which Sophie and I visited after Alnwick, but I’m saving them for Film Friday as they were all taken on the Contax. Instead, ths week I’m posting our trip to a train museum called Locomotion, in Shildon, which we visited after going to the Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland. I did take pictures at the gallery too though struggled with the lighting, and it was cool to see the Salvador Dali Christ of Saint John of the Cross, on loan from Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum Glasgow, in the same room as El Greco’s Christ on a cross. If you really are interested in 16/7th C Spanish art and religious iconography, there’s my gallery of less than great photos in the link HERE.

And so, Choo~choo! on with the trains!

The History Bit ☕️ 🍪

Shildon. An unassuming little town, (pop. about 9,900) I’ve visited a few times in the past for hearing aid purposes, and never knew that in the 1820s, the new Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR) chose the town for its engineering headquarters. Shildon became known as the ‘Cradle of the Railways’ and the world’s first true railway town, when on 27 September 1825 George Stephenson’s Locomotion set off from outside the Mason’s Arms public house, hauling the first passenger train to Stockton.You could say that the Mason’s Arms could be classified as the world’s first railway station. In the early stages of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, tickets were sold at the bar. Between 1833 and 1841 the company hired a room in the pub for use as a booking office.

A chap from Shildon, Timothy Hackworth, was recruited by George Stephenson in 1824 and put in charge of building locomotives for the company, becoming superintendant in 1825. He also established his own company, the Soho Locomotive Building Company, and worked alongside the S&DR. In 1855, Hackworth having gone to the Great Railway Station in the Sky, the Soho Works were bought by the S& DR, merging with the North Eastern Railway in 1863. Locomotive production was shifted to their North Road Works in Darlington. The Shildon Works continued but focus was shifted to the construction of waggons.

It did suffer from industrial action when a strike in 1911 kicked off. The Govt sent in the Army (a bad habit they’ve got as they’re still using them to break strikes today) A driver of a mineral train was stoned and dragged from his engine then pursued by an angry mob and had to be rescued by soldiers so maybe he was happy they were there. Mineral wagons had their bottom doors undone and the contents allowed to fall out. Wagons in the sidings had their brakes undone and freewheeled for miles, railway signal cables were damaged and the cavalry had to be called. At one stage soldiers had to mount a Bayonet charge to clear a bridge. They certainly knew how to strike back then, none of this namby pamby placard carrying outside the workplace!

By 1926 and at its height, the Shildon Wagon Works was the largest in Europe and the massive infrastructure of sidings that supported the works was the largest in the world employing 2,600 people. But all good things come to an end, and in the 1930’s the London and North Eastern Railway Company had decided to concentrate their operations to Darlington. The Soho works laid derelict since the 1940s and were scheduled for demolition in the 1970s, however, the buildings were saved when they were restored and opened to the public as part of the Timothy Hackworth Museum.

The Locomotion Museum, incorporating the existing Timothy Hackworth Museum and part of the National Railway Museum in York, was opened on Friday 22 October 2004. The new museum came about as part of a £70 million government funding arrangement for museums across the country. The project received £2 million from the European Regional Development Fund along with grant aid from a number of groups. The museum hoped to attract 60,000 visitors in the first year but had 70,000 visitors in the first two months

Lastly, an inspired piece of journalism from The Northern Echo newspaper on the advent of the 50th anniverary of the railway in 1855, that made me laugh ~ ‘Shildon is one of the ugliest places on the earth’s fair surface. It was once a swamp, the malaria from which laid many of its early inhabitants low with fever. It is now a hideous congerie of houses, growing like fungus on either side of a network of rails. A huge colliery rears its ungainly head close to the rails, and the noise of its working ceases not for ever. Engines are plying about with restless activity, like spiders running along the threads of their nets seeking for hapless flies’.

They don’t write’em like that anymore!

OK, edumacation over, let’s do some pics.

Steam locomotive, Southern Railway, Battle of Britain class 4-6-2 No 34051 “Winston Churchill”, designed by O.V. Bulleid, built at Brighton in 1946, withdrawn in 1965.
After Winston Churchill’s state funeral on 30th January 1965 the locomotive hauled the funeral train. Thousands lined the trackside to watch as the train pass. More Info HERE
Diesel-electric locomotive, prototype English Electric 3300HP “Deltic”, 1955, BR number ‘DP1″ Deltic was withdrawn in March 1961 after failing in service. In April 1963 it was presented to the Science Museum and was then transferred to the National Railway Museum in 1993. Though this one’s a prototype 22 locomotives were built in 1961–2 to take over from steam on express trains such as The Flying Scotsman and to offer the first services regularly running at 100mph. More info HERE
Snow plough, North Eastern Railway, No DE900566, 1891. The first NER snowplough was built in 1887 and, despite an accident in 1888 where a plough train upended a locomotive at Annitsford, 23 more were made. All 24 were made of wood except the final two, which were metal.
Railway carriage, London & North Western Railway, Queen Alexandra’s Saloon, No 801, built in 1902.
Internally, the arrangments included a day saloon, two dressing rooms, a bedroom, lavatory, and two vestibules at each end. When the carriage was first built there were two beds, the second being for Queen Alexandra’s daughter the Princess Victoria.
Royal knobs.

You are not allowed to go inside so the first 2 were taken with my iPhone stuck on the window, the website lets you use their shots so here are 2 of the inside, taken inside.

The North British Railway, one of Scotland’s major railways, operated the branch extending from Carlisle to Silloth and its sub-branch to Port Carlisle. Freight services on the latter branch were discontinued as early as 1899, but a horse-drawn passenger service instituted in 1863 remained until early 1914, when it was finally superseded by steam. Known as Dandy Cars, this one was made in 1856 and designed like a stagecoach. First and second class travellers would sit inside, and third class passengers would sit on the benches outside. 😳
Steam locomotive, remains of Timothy Hackworth’s 0-4-0 locomotive “Sans Pareil”. More info HERE
Fire Engine 1880 ~ Gateshead Railway Works

Royal Mail carriage.

 

Those are the highlights, more trains and details in my album HERE for any ferroequinologists out there
and the Locomotion Website can be accessed HERE.

It’s a nicely done museum, free to get in though they do like a donation if you can. The café is fine, usual stuff, hot and cold drinks, soup and roll, jacket potato, pasties, toasties, paninis at reasonable prices. We would have liked to go inside the Royal Train, but that doesn’t ever happen, and I do understand, everyone would want to get in and everyone mostly had little kids with them! There were lots of information boards and videos and we really enjoyed it and learned a lot, in spite of neither of us being really interested in trains!

Stay tooned peeps!

😊

Stephenson Heritage Railway – June 2019 – Part 3

Part 1 HERE  Part 2 HERE

After we finally gave up going for rides, we got to look around in the workshops,with the lovely gentlemen explaining things to us.

Painting

Explaining what’s to be done

Mr.Fixer

work in progress – This steam locomotive was built for the Ashington Coal Company in Northumberland in 1939 by Peckett & Sons, Bristol. The Ashington Coal Company had one of Britain’s most extensive colliery railways. For 30 years it hauled wagons of coal from the company’s pits, and also passenger trains for the miners.  In 1991 it was acquired by Stephenson Railway Museum and was given the additional name of Jackie Milburn in honour of the great Newcastle United footballer who grew up in Ashington.

Some fab old tool boxes in use

??? 🙂

They had had some Thomas the Tank faces made for the front of the big steam engines to make the kids smile, but the people who own Thomas the Tank wouldn’t let them use them, so they just hang in the workshop. I mean, what harm would it do really?

No bodies

‘Bait’ up here is Geordie for lunch

Lunch timer

Our lovely workshop guide.

They let you drive a train up and down a bit for £2 which was a bargain, and Sophie was definitely up for that!

Driving Instructions

choo-choo

We also had a look in the museum and around the outside.

 

Billy

Billy is one of the oldest locomotives in the world, built and designed by George Stephenson in 1816 and one of the most innovative transport systems of it’s day and was used for over 50 years.

The 401 – Thomas Burt

This locomotive is named after Thomas Burt, a miners’ leader from Northumberland who in 1874 became the first working man to be elected as an MP. Also known as Vulcan, the 401 was one of three built in 1951 at Stafford by W.G. Bagnall Ltd for the Steel Company of Wales.

So that ends our visit to Stephenson Heritage Museum.

All pictures are by me and embiggenable with a click.

There is an album with more pictures of it HERE

and their excellent website is HERE

Stay tooned for our next adventure, a revisit to Cragside to see the rhododendrons

 

Stephenson Heritage Railway – June 2019 – Part 2

Part 1 HERE

Sophie and I enjoyed the train ride so much we went on it twice 🙂 as the ticket covered you for as many goes as you liked.

Shabby chic

They are still renovating the carriages, so they do look a bit shabby, but it didn’t matter to us, it was easy to ignore that and imagine being in Brief Encounter 🙂

Of course we and all the other kids ignored that!

On the return journey we were just in normal class as someone got to our first class carriage before us (gits 😀 )

Good job we didn’t need to ‘go’

second class carriage

Tempting…..but didn’t 🙂

Scenes from the windows

Veritable Vegetation

Pizza thataway

Boy racer

Back at the station we said our thanks to the guard

and to the Station Master who was happy to pose for a photograph

and I couldn’t resist a sneaky shot of this little lad waiting his turn to go on the train

The wonder years

That’s it for today, but we haven’t finished with the railway, as we got to look around the work shop, and Sophie got to drive a train, so stay tooned for next time:)

 

Stephenson Heritage Railway ~ June 2019 – part 1

Old trains, nothing like them for evoking the past, all that choo-chooing and hissing steam.  Not that I ever went on one back when I was a kid and they were ubiquitous, but I have now!

Have you heard of George Stephenson? Stephensons Rocket perhaps? No?  Oh good, then let us commence the History lesson! 🙂

George was a child of Northumberland. Born in 1781 to illterate parents, he too had no education until at the age of 17, he followed his Dad into the mines as a brakesman, and used his salary to pay for night school classes in reading, writing and arithmetic. He married Frances Henderson and they had a son Robert, but sadly his second child, a daughter, only lived for 3 weeks and his wife died of tuberculosis, consumption as it was known, the year after. George went off to Scotland to find work, leaving little Robert with a local woman, but returned a few months later after his Dad was blinded in a mining accident. Tough times people, tough times.

He moved back into a cottage, his unmarried sister moved in to look after the boy, and George went back to work at  Killingworth Colliery. Here he had a stroke of luck as the pumping engine wasn’t working properly. George offered to fix and improve it, which he did and so successfully he got promoted to enginewright, responsible for maintaining and repairing all the mines engines, and this is how he became expert in steam-driven machinery.

Firstly a little side step.  Have you heard of The Davy Lamp? A miners safety lamp which burns in a gaseous atmosphere without causing an explosion- those happened often down the mines.  An eminent scientist from Cornwall Humphry Davy invented it and it was used more or less everywhere. Where it wasn’t used was in the North East as here they used a Stephensons Safety lamp.  He had invented one different to Davy’s and he presented it to the Royal Society (formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge,it is a learned society and the United Kingdom’s national Academy of Sciences. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as “The Royal Society”. It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world.) a whole month prior to Davy presenting his. Davy won £2000 for his invention BIG money back then (todays equiv. £164,000) and George was accused of stealing the idea from Davy.

Stephenson-safety-lamp

Really this came down to the fact that George was seen as a country bumpkin, had a broad Northumberland accent and no scientific training.  He was exonerated eventually and given £1000, and got equal kudos for inventing the lamp, though Davy wouldn’t accept the findings. Suck it up Southern boy! 🙂 .  In one case when both lamps were being used down a mine in Barnsley, a blast of released gas made all the Davy lamps tops red hot– thereby risking an explosion, whereas the Stephenson lamp just went out, so his was the better one to be stuck down a gassy mine with. Stephenson’s became known as the Geordie lamp and indirectly gave the name Geordies to the natives of Newcastle.

All this resulted in George having a life long distrust of London-based theoretical,scientific experts, can’t blame him really, and he also made sure to educate his son privately and come out with a standard English accent.

George went on to build locomotives, problem solving and making each better, improving cast iron rails and building several railways across the country, including the Liverpool & Manchester railway, where he also designed and had built a skew bridge, the first to cross a railway line.  The L& MR opened on 15th Sept 1830 starting with a procession of eight trains, driven by himself, his son and some engineers, setting out from Liverpool. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your political mien, the MP for Liverpool, William Huskisson, got knocked over by one of the trains, ‘Rocket’ and died of his injuries. Apart from that it was a great success!

George married 3 times but only had children with Frances, and he died aged 67, at noon on 12 August 1848 7 months after his 3rd marriage.  His son Robert  expanded on the work of his father and became a major railway engineer himself. Abroad, Robert was involved in the Alexandria–Cairo railway that later connected with the Suez Canal. 

Britain led the world in the development of railways which acted as a stimulus for the Industrial Revolution by facilitating the transport of raw materials and manufactured goods, with his work on the Stockton and Darlington Railway and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, George paved the way for the railway engineers who followed, such as his son Robert, his assistant Joseph Locke who carried out much work on his own account, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Stephenson was farsighted in realising that the individual lines being built would eventually be joined together, and would need to have the same gauge. The standard guage used throughout much of the world is due to him.  There’s loads more that he did, but I’d have to write a book, and there’s no need for that! By all accounts he was a very nice man.

The museum is in North Shields, and Sophie and I visited on a good weather day. There was a model train display going on in the museum, so we had a wander around there first.

Interesting to see all the scratch built models but we wanted to see the real thing!

A fleet of passenger coaches from the 1950s.

We got our tickets and the station master punched them.

Station Master

We bagged ourselves a First Class carriage

our carriage

and then hung out the windows watching the others getting on.

All Aboard!

Guards and driver checking our doors are safely shut

and off we go!

choo choo 🙂

Past the Tesco chimney.

Past the graffitti on the metro bridge column

End of the line!

Here we all got off while they changed the engine from front to back. Sadly (though not TOO sadly) we were not being pulled by the steam train as that was in dry-dock (or whatever the train equivalent is) but a funky little diesel did the job.

Funky diesel.

Stay tooned for next time when we’ll have a closer look inside the carriages, and do the journey back.

Day 333 & Day 334~366

Yesterday morning I got up at 6am, packed my bags and went off to Newcastle railway station where I met my friend (and boss) Brenda to go to a product launch in Manchester.  It was due to start with lunch at 12 midday and to get there on time we were catching the 9.43am to York, changing trains and on to Manchester Piccadilly for 11.45am with a 10 minute walk to the venue.  Brenda arrived at the station with 1 minute to spare, and we ran on to the train and off we went.  There was a delay at one point, when we slowed down and stopped, which apparently was down to someone falling ill on a train at Northallerton and having to be taken off it in an ambulance, but 5 minutes later we were off again.  I didn’t realise Brenda was then panicking that we would miss our connecting train at York, but we got there with 7 minutes to spare.  Once we got off the train Brenda charged over to the platform where our train was and chivvied me up, ‘come on come on before they shut the door on us’ she yells, and on we rushed, into a nice empty carriage with tables, and we sat down. ‘What are you panicking about?’ says I, and she told me that on her last trip on a train to London, she got to her changeover train and the guard shut the door just as she got there and wouldn’t let her on. “Can’t have the train being late” he said, “it’s not late” she said “there’s still 2 minutes to go”, “well we are allowed to shut the doors 2 minutes before it’s due to leave” he replied “everybody knows that!”  And he would not let her on, so she had to wait for the next train to London, and pay £126 for a ticket, for a journey she’d already paid for.  So that was the reason for the panic.  The train set off and we got comfortable, and the Captain (? driver/pilot, not sure what they’re called) came over the tannoy, “Good morning, this is the 236 to Newcastle, calling at Darlington, and Durham! We were on the wrong train going back the way we came!  It took 45 minutes to get to Darlington, where we got off and went to the travel office to ask what to do. The lady told us we’d have to get on the next train and tell the ticket collector what had happened, and he would then either let us off or we’d have to buy new tickets.  When’s the next train we asked, well it’s been cancelled, she said so you’ll have to get on the direct train to Manchester which is with another company and leaves in an hour. So we went and had coffee, and hung around the station until that train came, and then got on that. Now Brenda was certain we’d have to buy new tickets, but when the collector came around I did the googley sorrowful eyes at him, explained what had happened and he let us stay on without buying a new ticket.  Of course the barriers in and out of the platform areas are automated and work by wafting your ticket at a sensor, and of course ours wouldn’t work, so we ended up having to explain the thing all over again to get out.  Eventually we got to where we were supposed to be, 2 hours late, and stopping off along the walk from the station for Brenda to buy a new top for the evening dinner, as she’d forgotten to pack hers!  We had a fab time at the product launch, the company doing it paid for us to stay in a very nice hotel (£235 a night!!!) and took us all out to dinner, and all drinks were paid for the whole night.  As there were about 30 of us, it must have run into a few 1000 quid, so I hope they all sell lots of the product.  I don’t do sales anymore, but have to know about it all as I do fittings and service work for Brenda so it’s still useful for me to go along. I don’t think we stopped laughing about our journey for hours on and off!  On the way back we had a direct train to Newcastle, and got to the platform 10 minutes before it was due, but then it got delayed by 34 minutes due to problems somewhere with the signals, so had to sit in the freezing cold waiting for what seemed like ages.  I missed my car a lot!

I used the iPhone a few times along the way,

Newcastle Station, which is quite a beauty

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I did take the ball with me, but not too many opportunities to use it, I did one at Darlington station which I wish was a bit better than it turned out, but it’s all I got, so this is Day 334

manchester-3w

iPhone shot of the station, another lovely station, that’s Brenda on the left walking ahead

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I took a shot of Huddersfield Station as we went through, as this is where I grew up

10

This was my hotel room

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and the mini bar and coffee making machine I couldn’t figure out how to work it, it’s one of those George Clooney nespresso things, half a bottle of champagne, £17.50 ~ needless to say I didn’t avail myself of it!

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After the product launch, which was at the top of the hotel, we went onto an outside terrace, and I took a shot looking down through the glass safety barrier

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and the sunset over Manchester was spectacular, so it had to be done

manchester-2-copy

manchester-copy

and my final shot was my ball shot today, on the way to the station we stopped for a coffee and I took a shot of the Chetham Music College

manchester-4w

but I like the sunset shots best 🙂

Now home again, and back to work in the morning! Adventure over for now 🙂 .