Stenlake Publishing - The South Shields, Marsden & Whitburn Collier Railway

The South Shields, Marsden and Whitburn Colliery Railway

Author : William J. Hatcher
ISBN : 9780853615835
Cover : paperback
Price : £9.95

The SSMWCR was originally built as a mineral branch serving a coal mine on the north-east coast, and this it did successfully for almost a century. Indeed here is where the story could have ended, for at face value this was no different from the hundreds of other branches which served pits in this industrial, corner of the country.

Scratch beneath the surface however and it soon becomes apparent that there was much more to the SSMWCR than the humble coal truck. The railway has its own passenger service which (although not unique for a colliery branch line) nonetheless boasted well-equipped termini and block signalling. Passenger trains were capable of taking the public back in time, leaving Westoe Colliery with its 20th century electric railway at one end of the branch, and travelling down to Whitburn Colliery at the other end, firmly set in the 19th century with steam the staple power.

Then there was the rolling stock. The bewildering menagerie was raked in from all corners of the land, mostly via the second-hand market and spent a twilight existence on the branch line long after similar main line stock had been dragged to the scrapyards. The locomotives (and there were 40 of them) represented a full cross-section of early mineral designs from tiny Manning, Wardle industrial tank engines up to the hefty ex-North Eastern Railway ‘C’ class tender engines which were so indigenous to County Durham.

The most remarkable aspect of the railway, however, was the state of almost constant change it underwent throughout its history. It was built under wayleave as a mineral line, re-opened by Act of Parliament as a railway in the full sense of the word, and re-opened yet again at a later date as an official light railway. The original stations were demolished and rebuilt, while at one stage, even part of the railway itself was lifted and re-aligned. In fact so frequent were the changes that an enthusiast visiting the railway could return within a decade and find little to remind him of his previous visit.

A5 format, 128 pages, more than 100 illustrations.

The South Shields, Marsden and Whitburn Colliery Railway

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