Friday 9 September 2022

Railways - You Can See 'Em At Seaham

A Few P.S. Pieces

Those whose railway interest is solely in locomotives, either present day or historically, do miss out on a grasp of why said locos existed! They existed to haul trains, and historically, the commercial emphasis was first and foremost in hauling freight trains.

The Earl of Londonderry's "main line" railway was to get coal from his pits to the bigger docks and bigger boats at Sunderland, leaving the Seaham Staithes, its "coffee pots" and chauldron wagons to serve smaller vessels.

Passengers were a secondary consideration. The original terminus is shown (closed) with a white blob on the old map above.

Here it is on Marlborough Street with its obligatory Station Hotel next door ...
... and this is the view today with nothing remaining of the original station etc..
Beyond the white van (above) was a level crossing over the extended Durham Coast line. This is now replaced by a spectacular footbridge ...
 ... and seen below from the opposite of the track.
Before the line was extended to the south, but beyond the terminus you would find a large wagon works where the good Earl's trucks were maintained.
Coal was, indeed, big business.

The Earl sold his "main line" to the North Eastern Railway in 1900.

Vain Search At Vane Tempest
This pit (actually TWO pits, "Vane" and "Tempest") came late to the good Earl's Seaham empire; seen below from the coast road.. 
The businesss grew considerably ...
... and mined coal from inland and under the sea. Coping with the ingress of sea water was an on-going problem.

So where, thought fbb, was the railway leading to Seaham Harbour from the north of the town. At first, fbb looked at "New Drive" leading pit-wards from Seaham station.
It even looked railway-like on the ground (!) ...
... with undergrowth and industrial clutter.

But, an fbb guess coming up, fbb suspects that there never was a link between Vane Tempest and Seaham Harbour. By the time the colliery opened there was a need for big loads to be transported to the big docks at Sunderland.

Of course, the OS map is at a join! But evidence is clear that a "proper" railway branched off the main line from the Sunderland direction.
The junction, known as Hall Dean, lies just on the Seaham Side of his Earlship's private station.
There are plenty of pictures on line of the junction, showing nostalgic steam hauled trains leaving loaded ...
... and arriving empty.
A diesel hauled loaded train is seen rounding the curve from the sidings at the colliery ...
... and a concluding shot of the tracks in decay after the pit closed.
We can move on to Google Earth and see how little is left of this junction, simply a green scar curving away from the present Durham Coast line (lower right).
The former private station for the Earl of Londonderry is shown top left. The curved route straightens.
The trackbed crosses from left to right towards the top of the picture, after which it rapidly become lost in the housing estate that has replaced the colliery. The pathway that wiggles as it crosses the former track bed is the line of "New Drive" - almost certainly not a rail route but a new drive to Seaham Hall, one-time residence of the Earl of Londonderry and the boss of the three Seaham collieries.

Historically Seaham Hall and its surroundings was Seaham. The modern town was originally dubbed "Seaham Harbour". So below we see the end wiggle of New Drive as it approaches the Hall ...
... and it clearly predates the colliery and its rail link.

The Minister's Statement
Her comment looks very much like an extract from the "new minister's start-up kit" rather than a purposeful announcement of her passionate determination to "do transport" properly.; maybe even to Build Buses Back Better???

Compare this with another new minister's sound bite.
Therese Coffey made a neat and tidy announcement on her new job as Health Minister.
Did she think it up all by herself?

Missed It!
Confirmation that HCT have, indeed, withdrawn completely from their operations in Bristol.
Only the Channel Islands are left in the portfolio.

fbb remembers the death of King George VI, announced to Miss Hunt's class at Billing C of E School. Dinner lady Mrs Inskip came in to tell us all that she had heard it on the wireless.

All pupils were encouraged to wear something black. fbb's mum covered his merit badge with a small piece of blackout cloth!

Later, he watched part of the Coronation on Chris Marriott's parent's "television set" and subsequently went on a tour of Northampton's decorations on a Yorks Bros double deck bus; much more exciting than the telly!

Granny made up a cut-out model of the Coronation procession, including the state coach with the new Queen ensconced within.
But it was Her Maj's profound Christian Faith that is such a powerful role model for us all. It was in that faith that her sense of duty and service were based.
Thank you Ma'am and God Bless!

She will be having a great time in Heaven!

 Next Variety blog : Saturday 10th September 

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