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Rites of Passage for a Model Railway - 1: Area Research, a Look at British Railways' North Eastern Region and Traffic

Alan's railway knowledge grows with time. Follow his writing in this railway modelling series for research and development to improve yours

The coat of arms, the totems and the system -

The three constituents that made up the original North Eastern Railway in 1854 were (from left to right) the Leeds Northern, the York & North Midland and the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway companies

The three constituents that made up the original North Eastern Railway in 1854 were (from left to right) the Leeds Northern, the York & North Midland and the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway companies

From 1923 until 1947 the amalgamated east coast companies were known officially as the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER). This might seem more than a nod to the NER. The region suffered badly in the Depression when industry took a downturn

From 1923 until 1947 the amalgamated east coast companies were known officially as the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER). This might seem more than a nod to the NER. The region suffered badly in the Depression when industry took a downturn

British Railways' North Eastern Region totem, black lettering, tangerine body with white trim and black edging

British Railways' North Eastern Region totem, black lettering, tangerine body with white trim and black edging

Route map of the North East with connections to other companies' lines - the NER was one of the richest, with a large slice of industry and the East Coast Main Line as well as many major cities (Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, Bradford, Durham, York)

Route map of the North East with connections to other companies' lines - the NER was one of the richest, with a large slice of industry and the East Coast Main Line as well as many major cities (Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, Bradford, Durham, York)

Railway traffic in the North East began on the S&DR with mineral workings between Shildon and Stockton-on-Tees*, later extended to Newport, Middlesbrough.

'Running Rights' over other companies' metals, 'Wayleaves' over private land owned by landlords of mining companies... These factors decided the progress of commerce and industry from early on, when railway lines were operated by the ironmasters (predecessors of the steelmakers), mining and quarrying concerns, and continued side-by-side with the public railway companies established from the early 19th Century onward. It's the pre-history if you like, of the embryonic Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR), that would be absorbed into the North Eastern Railway (NER) midway through the 1860's.

Elsewhere on this site you'll see pages on railway companies that operated in the North East of England in direct competition with the S&DR, subsequently absorbing them in turn from 1854. For these see the Profile page (or go to: http:// hubpages.com/@alancaster149). To the east of the S&DR was the Hartlepool Harbour & Railway Co (HH&R). Southward was the Cleveland Railway (CR), the North Yorkshire & Cleveland Railway (NY&CR) and the Whitby & Pickering Railway (W&PR). North was the Tanfield Railway (TR). Across the territory from north to south was the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway (YN&BR). West to east was the York & North Midland Railway (Y&NMR) and diagonally from Leeds northward was originally the Leeds & Thirsk, later Leeds Northern Railway (LNR). The Rosedale Railway ran south, uphill from the North Yorkshire & Cleveland Railway at Battersby to Rosedale Mines on the central moorlands, east and west of the village of Rosedale Abbey near Kirkbymoorside. Both mines had their own small communities that relied on travel to Bank Top in the brakevans, eventually to market towns in the Teesside, western and eastern Cleveland areas, such as Stockton-on-Tees, Yarm, Stokesley and Guisborough.

Traffic developed with the unification of the YN&BR, the LNR and Y&NMR.as the North Eastern Railway (NER), as I've mentioned, in 1854. Gradually, from 1854 the HH&R, the CR, W&PR and NY&CR were absorbed, latterly the S&DR in 1863 on favourable terms to shareholders.

From minerals in the early days (coal, lead, ironstone and alum shale), loads extended to steel for bridge and railway building, shipbuilding, bricks and other building materials, stone for building and railway ballast from quarries scattered around the region. Farming brought increased revenue with progress in technology, agricultural and livestock, racehorses (nine major race courses in Yorkshire alone, and other minor ones), commerce (burgeoning mail order trade) and much else.

Think of the variety and purpose of rolling stock from heavy engineering to fruit and fish traffic. Additionally, after 1923 a greater variety of locomotive classes was added with the advent of Grouping. The North Eastern Railway became part of the London & North Eastern Railway, with new LNER standard classes produced at Darlington, Doncaster (ex-GNR), Cowlairs (ex-NBR), Gorton (ex-GCR) and Stratford (ex-GER). Gradually the works were concentrated on Darlington and Doncaster with work outsourced to private contractors for locomotives. Freight and passenger stock was produced at various works around the LNER system, especially at York, Cowlairs, Doncaster and Stratford, some work again outsourced.

Nationalisation in 1948 brought a new sort of independence for the North Eastern, with its own regional HQs at York and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Locomotive and stock re-assessment followed, with several classes not making it into British Railways livery, and new classes being built from 1948, later the mid-1950s at Darlington and Doncaster. A new Pacific locomotive class was added in 1948, Arthur Peppercorn's Class A1, built mainly at Darlington, some at Doncaster. And the Thompson Class K1, re-designed by Peppercorn appeared around the same time, many built by the North British Lococomotive works in Glasgow. Standard classes were added, built at Darlington in the 1950s, mainly 2-6-0 for passenger timetabling.

The North Eastern Railway Association published a book, A HISTORY OF BRITISH RAILWAYS' NORTH EASTERN REGION edited by John Teasdale. See details of how to obtain a copy elsewhere on this page.

Industry and Commerce combine around docks, iron and steel making, shipbuilding and ironstone mining

Tyne Dock iron ore quay, 1962. This is where iron ore from around the world was stored and unloaded by gravity into hoppers for Consett works in County Durham nearby

Tyne Dock iron ore quay, 1962. This is where iron ore from around the world was stored and unloaded by gravity into hoppers for Consett works in County Durham nearby

The view in the 1950s along Lower East Street, Middlesbrough towards the docks on the Tees. Within decades the docks were cleared and re-located near Teesmouth. Most dockyard workers' jobs disappeared through mechanisation

The view in the 1950s along Lower East Street, Middlesbrough towards the docks on the Tees. Within decades the docks were cleared and re-located near Teesmouth. Most dockyard workers' jobs disappeared through mechanisation

Across the river on the County Durham side, at Haverton Hill in the Furness Yard 'Norseman' is being 'fitted out', ready for commissioning and trade

Across the river on the County Durham side, at Haverton Hill in the Furness Yard 'Norseman' is being 'fitted out', ready for commissioning and trade

Cargo Fleet Steel Works lay near the river, with the Saltburn railway between. Facing the road (Middlesbrough-South Bank) is the large office building. To the left was the huge gateway that sported a gigantic suit of armour made in the works

Cargo Fleet Steel Works lay near the river, with the Saltburn railway between. Facing the road (Middlesbrough-South Bank) is the large office building. To the left was the huge gateway that sported a gigantic suit of armour made in the works

Fishing vessels in St Andrew's Dock, Kingston-upon-Hull (better known simply as Hull). Long fish trains departed daily across the network for other parts of Yorkshire and the South

Fishing vessels in St Andrew's Dock, Kingston-upon-Hull (better known simply as Hull). Long fish trains departed daily across the network for other parts of Yorkshire and the South

The huge coal staiths at Hartlepool Docks saw traffic burgeon again after WWII with exports to Europe and scandinavia. Hoppers under the deck were filled from wagons, and discharged into ship holds

The huge coal staiths at Hartlepool Docks saw traffic burgeon again after WWII with exports to Europe and scandinavia. Hoppers under the deck were filled from wagons, and discharged into ship holds

The 'Cleveland Klondike' was in full swing when ironstone mining took off on the northern slopes of the Eston escarpment. This is Old Bank Mine, second oldest after the original Bold Venture Quarry established for Bolckow Vaughan's Grangetown works

The 'Cleveland Klondike' was in full swing when ironstone mining took off on the northern slopes of the Eston escarpment. This is Old Bank Mine, second oldest after the original Bold Venture Quarry established for Bolckow Vaughan's Grangetown works

The winding house beside the tracks at Trustee ironstone mine, third in the succession of drift workings into Eston Hills that eventually reached Guisborough, several miles away

The winding house beside the tracks at Trustee ironstone mine, third in the succession of drift workings into Eston Hills that eventually reached Guisborough, several miles away

The view from the hillside above Eston, towards the spread of industrial Teesside in the 1980's

The view from the hillside above Eston, towards the spread of industrial Teesside in the 1980's

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The battery of images above shows various aspects of industry and commerce enabled by a railway network largely intact after WWII. Coal, iron ore, steel... and sea fish, amongst other commodities was conveyed around and beyond British Railways North Eastern Region. From Tynemouth south to the Humber the railway carried goods in bulk for the ship-building industries of the North East - several yards on the Tees alone - and for reconstruction after WWII... Bridges, railways, housing etc. For several decades the North East was a powerhouse that supplied and was supplied by this network. The main arteries for industry and commerce are still there, a little shrunken, but there all the same. Meanwhile here's an image to inspire (below) from RMweb of Greyscroft Mine, an EM Gauge slice of the North Eastern ironstone mining industry.

I shall put together a page for this series that will detail the network, its needs and its services to give you a better idea of the nature of traffic in the region during the post-War decades.