Wednesday 31 August 2022

The Londonderry Railway

Surely Not?

Now known as Derry (town and county) it is very much part of Northern Ireland. So this title caused a certain bit of bafflement to fbb as he was having a delve into the world of East Durham Railways.

How could a railway called The Londonderry Seaham and Sunderland Railway make any sense. Surely there wasn't a hitherto undiscovered tunnel across to the English mainland?

But once we meet the Statue of  Charles Stewart Vane-Tempest Stewart on North Terrace at Seaham, County Durham, we begin to understand.
He stands sentinel outside the former offices of the Londonderry business empire. 
The offices still stand although in an alternative use.
The junction has been "developed" quite significantly with demolished property and the installation of the inevitable roundabout. But much of the property in the old view (below) still stands.
But note the primitive wagons on the site of todays gyratory traffic intersection. To the left you would make your way to Seaham railway station on today's Durham Coast Line. To the right the wagons would find their way to Seaham Harbour.

The wagons, the railway and the dock were all owned by coal mogul the Earl of Londonderry - and that was just one of his titles.
The statue, by the way, was a later Earl than the coal and railway mogul!

The original Earl was no absentee boss, however, because one of his "seats" was at Seaham Hall.
His pad was just a modest cottage affair ...
... now a much extended posh hotel.
It must be posh; it's got one of these outside the front door!
It does seem rather a large glass of gin with a dash of chartreuse.

Needless to say, the good Earl had his own private station (as you do) on the railway which passed his driveway, now named Lord Byron's Walk.
Well, his Earlship did own the railway!

But we hurry ahead too fast. The first task was to get the coal from the various pits down to the harbour. This produced a small network of freight links, shown in green on the map below.

So the harbour pre-dated the Sunderland to Seaham railway by a good few years.
But as the coal busines grew, it became obvious that Seaham Harbour was simply not big enough to handle the volume of traffic.
The new railway terminated at a station called Seaham Harbour, a short step south of the present Northern Trains stop.

But there was a problem. Seaham was up on a cliff, not huge but a cliff none the less and trains struggle with steep slopes.

Stagecoach Messed A View Of Chester
Why bother with windows?
There's nothing much to see at Chester, after all.

TfL Gets A Deal - BUT?
A new £3.6bn government bailout to keep Tube trains, railways, buses and trams running in London has been agreed.

The package includes almost £1.2bn of upfront funding for Transport for London (TfL) to secure the long-term future of the capital's transport network.

It is the sixth bailout for TfL after its revenues plummeted in the pandemic.

The funds will allow Piccadilly line trains to be built as well as upgrades to three Tube lines.

TfL Commissioner Andy Byford described the deal as "hard won" but Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who is also chair of TfL, branded it "far from ideal".

Mr Khan also warned of increased fares, just two weeks after Londoners were warned of potential Tube and bus fare rises of up to 14% next year.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the deal, which lasts until 31 March 2024, "more than delivers for Londoners".

The Department for Transport (DfT) said it had now provided more than £6bn worth of funding since May 2020.

There could be further Tube strikes over TfL pension reforms, the London mayor says "Securing the funding means bus services will now be cut by 4% instead of 18%", the BBC understands, which Mr Khan had warned was a possibility.

Although Tube services will not be reduced a £740m funding gap remains.

As the song says, "There could be trouble ahead ..."

 Next Seaham blog : Thursday 1st September 


  1. I suspect the Chester Park & Ride livery is specified by the council - a previous window-covering incarnation in Canterbury certainly was.

  2. Andrew Kleissner31 August 2022 at 09:58

    Londonderry was to Seaham what Bute was to Cardiff, it seems. Were they related?