Railways Around Boldon Colliery in the 1960s

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All images (c) B. Attewell 2005. 

Map of railways around Boldon
The lines formed a simple cross centred on Pontop Crossing. Each quadrant of the cross was filled by a loop line. That to the south west from Boldon Colliery Junction to the Brick Works crossed the river Don on a high timber viaduct and did, for a brief period, constitute part of the east coast main line. The construction of the line from Pelaw to Washington and the building of the new main line through the Team Valley rendered this branch redundant and it was dismantled in 1940 after the viaduct sustained bomb damage. I remember there being sidings at this side of Boldon station, a remnant of better times.

Other than the removal of that one loop, the map describes the situation at Boldon in the 50s and 60s, although I never saw a train move along the loop to the south east of Pontop Crossing. Today there is a new shorter connection in the north east corner, while the Tyne Dock link is still in place to the north west, but the Tyne Dock - Consett line is long gone.

The line from Gateshead to Monkwearmouth was completed in 1839, and that line was called the Brandling Junction Railway. One of the original station buildings still exists at Felling, just to the north of the current station. Look out for the initials on the small stone building. The Brandlings were land/coal owners in the area and you can see their family tomb within St Mary's church at Heworth.

The line from Tyne dock to Stanhope was first opened for business in 1834, the Stanhope and Tyne Railway STR. This railway used locomotives in the vicinity of Boldon from the beginning, but on the steeper graded sections to the west there was a series of inclined planes operated by stationary engines and rope haulage. In due course the steepest sections were by passed and eventually the line was loco hauled through to Consett, albeit using assisting or banking locos for a good proportion of the trip.

Both the Brandling Junction and particularly the STR struggled financially, and eventually the lines were purchased by the Hudson empire, (MP for Sunderland and discredited "Railway King").  They were later absorbed by the North Eastern Railway which later became a part of the London and North Eastern Railway, followed by British Railways and then the present mess we find ourselves in!

Boldon station from south east

The station buildings at Boldon Colliery, a shadow of their former selves. The booking office windows are boarded up, while vandals have attacked the roof of what was, I think, the toilet. I remember buying tickets warmed by a coal fire not many years prior to this. The Metro station which replaced this structure is called Brockley Whins. When this photo was taken I seem to recall a sign saying Boldon Colliery for Brockley Whins, on the Sunderland bound platform. On the original photo it is possible to make out quite a bit of detail of the man walking along the track, wearing a traditional cloth cap.

Boldon station from the rear

Still very much lived in, the station master's house, complete with garden and greenhouse.  The old main line used to pass in front of the house, with the Newcastle to Sunderland line behind. By this time all signs of the old main line had gone.

Boldon Signal Box

Boldon Colliery signal box

Q6 to Tyne Dock

An ex North Eastern railway T2 0-8-0 locomotive of a type introduced in 1913 (LNER/BR Q6) hauls a train of empty mineral hopper wagons past Boldon Colliery station headed in the direction of Tyne Dock.
A member of the class survives in working order. Note the group of youthful admirers standing alongside the fence to the right of the picture.

62007 Boldon Pit Yard

Ex LNER K1 2-6-0 locomotive 62007 leaves Boldon pit yard heading north towards Pontop Crossing. In the background is the winding gear of Harton Colliery. Note the wooden shunter's pole lying across the front framing of the loco. The letters SC on the smokebox door indicates that the loco has been fitted with a Self Cleaning smokebox - in essence it threw the smaller cinders out through the chimney! There is an electricity generator to the left of the smokebox door, but, at this stage of its career, I suspect that it didn't work!

Halina Paulette, llford FP3, 125th f8, 17-6-1967

62007 Green Lane

The same locomotive, number 62007, heads a train of NCB Harton mineral hoppers through Green Lane heading south towards Boldon. In my experience it was normal for NCB locomotives to handle this traffic. Tyne Dock loco shed was located off shot to the extreme left of the frame.

Halina Paulette, llford FP3, 125th f8, 17-6-1967

4472 approaching Pontop Xing

Ex LNER 4-6-2 A3 class 4472 Flying Scotsman heads a special train towards Newcastle and is about to encounter Pontop Crossing. The bridge in the foreground carried the Tyne Dock to Consett line over the river Don.

4472 Pontop Xing

A few moments later and the train is on the crossing. Note the spectator standing just in front of the leading driving wheel. Note also that the windows of the signal box had been largely blocked off, a sign of the times! At this time Flying Scotsman was equipped with an additional tender which extended its range by carrying more water.

90321 Boldon Station

One of my favourite shots. A care worn War Department (WD) 2-8-0 locomotive pulls away from Boldon Colliery station in the direction of Newcastle. This type of loco was designed to be constructed using a minimum of exotic materials during the 1940-45 war, and was a simplified version of an LMS standard design. Expected to last the war and then be retired, they continued to battle on until the mid to late 1960s; much to the dismay of the crews who generally detested them! WD class locomotives served overseas as well as within the UK, and at least one overseas example survived the scrap yard.

Halina Paulette, Ilford HP4, 125th f11, 28-1-1967

90417 Approaching Boldon

Another WD, No. 90417, heads in the opposite direction towards Boldon. The only clean part of the machine is the section just below the cab window where the fireman would rest his arm!

Halina Paulette, Ilford FP3, 125th f8, 4-3-1967

Boldon Pit

The pit head at Boldon. The lines in the foreground are a part of the the Tyne Dock to Consett route. My friend's dad was one of the winding engineers at the pit and we would occasionally visit him in the immaculately maintained winding room. The pit was sunk in 1869 and was closed in 1982. It was a lucky pit in that there were no major incidents during its lifetime, although, inevitably enough, it claimed the lives of a number of miners.


Boldon Brickworks

The kiln at Boldon Brickworks. Note the man climbing the ladder towards the hopper near to the centre of the picture, while in the distant background is Reyrolle's switch gear factory at Hebburn. As a child I spent many a happy hour adjacent to the dangerously deep waters of Boldon brick ponds, the "Brickies".


J27 heads north thro' Boldon

A very grainy depiction of an Ex NER P3 0-6-0 locomotive blasting its way towards Newcastle through Boldon station. Like their 0-8-0 NER cousins, these simple but reliable and effective locos lasted throughout the NER, LNER and BR steam eras (LNER/BR class J27). The crews were paid a bonus depending upon the amount of coal moved, so they were generally seen and heard pounding along! One member of the class survives in preservation. Note the NER slotted post lower quadrant signal that remained at Boldon until all of the semaphore signals were replaced by colour light signals.

Sulzer Diesels on Ore Train

The same location but a while later. The section of the Tyne Dock to Consett line from Pontop Crossing to Washington was the first part of the route to be closed. At that time the steel works at Consett remained in production and the operation of the iron ore trains was diverted through Boldon and Pelaw.  I never did get a decent shot of one of the magnificent 9F 2-10-0 steam locos in charge of one of those trains, although I saw them many times, but they had been replaced by these ugly Sulzer diesels by the time the working was diverted.

Halina Paulette, probably Ilford FP3, 125th f11, 31-3-1967

WD heading towards Sunderland

Another grimy WD 2-8-0 heads south past Boldon station while in the background a diesel coupled to a "brake tender" slopes off towards Newcastle. I seem to recall seeing South Shields Corporation trolley buses parked over the bridge at Brockley Whins. Hearing the approach of a locomotive, I once ran to the lineside at this point and was rewarded by the sight of the beautiful ex LNER A3 pacific "Spearmint".

EE4 at Boldon

One of the most successful of the early mainline diesels was the English Electric class 4, a handful of which are still creeping about as I write this note as diesel class 40 (November 2005). Taken in the same location as the WD above, an EE4 heads a passenger train, possibly bound for Liverpool, in the direction of Sunderland. I am told that the sign bearing the number 95 is a milepost, indicating the distance from an obscure location near Leeds.

63436 Approaching Tile Shed

Ex NER 0-8-0 63436 trundles a mineral train south approaching Tile Shed en route to Sunderland. The handrail is bent, the cylinder cover is missing, but, 50+ years old the Q6 is still up to the job. My grandfather once persuaded the signal man at Tile Shed to let us both come up into his cabin, and I had a go at winding the crossing gates open and operating signals. I remember that the levers were very stiff for a young lad to move, and assistance was required.

Halina Paulette, Ilford FP3, 125th at f8, 14-1-1967

90348 aproaching Tile Sheds

Another of my favourite images, WD 2-8-0 90348 approaching Tile Shed. A gloomy picture that suits the subject, in my view. Note that this train is longer than that hauled by the Q6 above. The Q6s were rated at power classification 6 and the WDs as power class 8. Once, while still at junior school, I  had a footplate ride on a WD, along the tracks adjacent to Tyne Dock loco shed - I remember being in awe of the fire.  I was also promised a footplate ride up to Consett on a 9F, but, sadly, it never came to pass.

Halina Paulette, Ilford FP3, 125th at f8, 31-12-1966

65855 Tile Shed

A unique photograph for me in the sense that it is in colour ( I could not normally afford colour film in those days!) and because of the location on the line between South Shields and Sunderland, approaching Cleadon Lane Junction. By this time the passenger service had long gone and not long after the photograph was taken the track was lifted. The route is now a useful cycle track.

Halina Paulette, Kodachrome II, 19-6-1967

Boldon Sunset

Taken not long before the end, the sun sets behind the colliery!

While on the subject of coloured images, fellow "Boldon Lad" Graeme Holland has taken a couple of my photos and hand (or I presume Photoshop or similar) coloured them. I do like the result. Incredibly enough I had not noticed the second figure walking down the road before.

Graeme has also set some of these photos against a backing track of his own composition, you will find it here


If you interested in the history of the North Eastern Railway you might want to download a free copy of Tomlinson's book

Boldon appears briefly in the very interesting and well illustrated "Consett to South Shields Via Beamish" by Roger R Darsley ISBN 978 1 906008 57 4 published by Middleton Press in 2009.

Boldon (indexed as Brockley Whins) also gets a mention within "Forgotten Railways North East England" by K. Hoole ISBN 0 71535894 4 published by David and Charles 1973.


I learned the rudiments of photography when I went to senior school in Jarrow at the age of 12 in 1962. One of the teachers ran a photographic society and we had access to a dark room. Saving all of my pocket money enabled me to buy my first proper camera which was a
35mm rangefinder Halina Paulette (1966). Later, working part time as a barman at the British Legion Club in Hebburn while still at school, I was able to trade the Halina for an EXA 500 single lens reflex with a Zeiss Tessar lens (1969). I think that all of the photographs seen here were taken with these cameras, except for those of Boldon Pit and Brickworks which were taken with a very secondhand (£25) Rolleicord. If only I had had the Rollei just a few years earlier, the results from it were stunning in comparison! My normal film stock was Ilford FP3 developed in ID11, and later FP4 using dilute Microphen.

Since that time I have got through a couple of Pentax SLRs and more recently a Fuji and a Canon digicam. My current pride and joy is a Canon 5D DSLR.

62005 Moorgates NYMR

Steam trains no longer run through Boldon, but they do on the North Yorkshire Moors Line as is seen here with K1 2-6-0 62005 at Moorgates. This is the same type of locomotive as no. 62007 seen on earlier shots.

All images (c) Bryan Attewell.  Feel free to download these photographs for personal, not for profit, use.  Higher resolution images of these, and many other, photographs are available for sale.  To purchase photographs or publication rights, or to discuss the affairs of Boldon Railways, please contact  Bryan Attewell

If you are interested in trains you might want to check out my other railway web sites.

Edit - I came across my old photographer's record book while rummaging in the attic, and have now been able to provide details of the camera, film and date for a number of these shots. 23-1-2011

A few paras on the history of the lines added 2-2-2012.