Travel North - 39: Guisborough Railway Circular, 2: Stations, Junctions, Lineside Features
Let's begin the journey at Middlesbrough before the first branch cuts were made in the mid 1950s
Before embarking on your virtual train ride to Guisborough - it's still possible as far as where Nunthorpe Junction was but you'd have to travel to Ayton and walk/cycle/take a bus to Pinchinthorpe - above are a few images of 1950s Middlesbrough Station. The view of the excursion train was taken before the remaining part of Thomas Prosser's overall roof was dismantled and the new canopies were extended along the platforms.
The overall roof was destroyed in an air raid on Middlesbrough, 3rd August, 1942 when four 500kg bombs fell on the station area and severely damaged a V1 2-6-2 tank loco and several coaches of its train. My family were seeing off Dad back to his bivouac on the castle 'green' at Richmond (not far from Catterick Garrison) via Darlington before he went overseas to North Africa. His train had left the station before the siren went off and the others (his mother, father and younger sister Lorna) had gone down into the air raid shelter.
Middlesbrough had been damaged considerably during WWII, but nowhere near as bad as Hull, the red glow of which l am told could be seen from as far away as York, (which was also bombed around the same time, on the Bank Holiday in the same month of 1942), named the 'Baedeker Raid' because the bombs were dropped on the historic city itself.
Gordon Suggitt takes us for a look at a railway system that began to disappear well before Dr Richard Beeching was appointed by Ernest Marples in the MacMillan government in the mid-1960s. Abundant archive material, maps and photographs augment the narrative.
Along the branch at Ormesby Station, renamed Marton (for local lad James Cook)
After first establishing north of the Tees between Shildon via Darlington to Stockton riverside, the S&DR crossed to exploit the mineral wealth of Old Cleveland around Guisborough. By the time the North Eastern Railway took over the S&DR in 1863 (with a preferential share offer), the system was well established around the south shore of the Tees between Yarm and Saltburn down to Slapewath and westward to Nunthorpe.
The S&DR was also instrumental in the development of the South Tees area's industry as rivals of the North Yorkshire & Cleveland Railway and Cleveland Railway respectively.
The Middlesbrough & Guisborough Railway (M&GR), part of the Stockton & Darlington network and latterly North Eastern Railway/LNER/BR(NE)
(Imagine you're on a train out of Middlesbrough in the 1950s):
You have left Thomas Prosser's 1877 station, minus its high arched overall roof*, the remainder of which has been removed after awnings were erected in the years after WWII. After first travelling east the points are switched to allow the train across onto the Stockton & Darlington's branchline heading south towards the Cleveland Hills.
Your train begins to climb the one in forty-four incline to Ormesby, the first station I sometimes travelled to and from this station in the 1960s, to begin with to Scout camp at Commondale in the Esk Valley via Battersby in 1960, latterly to or from Scarborough when the buses were prevented from running over the moors in the early 1963 snow drifts, and before the Scarborough branch from Whitby was closed early in 1965.
[The trains I took were the early Metro-Cammell diesel multiple units (dmu's), introduced in a bid to reduce running costs and therefore perhaps save branches from closure. In steam days there were reversals necessary at Battersby, Guisborough, Saltburn, Whitby and Scarborough, when on longer trains the loco ran around its train except at Scarborough when it pushed the train past Falsgrave signal cabin into the Central Station for the last few hundred yards. The dmu drivers only had to change driving cabs. The measure still didn't save branches, however]
Nunthorpe is a typical NER station, now looking a bit dejected and a shadow of its former, busier self without the buildings on the down (Battersby/Whitby) platform. Lifting barriers now protect road users and train crew.
The station opened in 1854 and served a local population of around 570. In 1911, however, 20,799 tickets were issued. These would have been mostly commuters travelling into Middlesbrough. A year before WWI 241 tons of barley and 34 wagon loads of livestock (mainly cattle) were handled by station staff.
An NER track diagram from 1898 shows sidings for Marton Lane Siding and Depots (with C Bolckow and tenants listed as tenants) and the Morton Carr siding (trader: T Curry) and Morton Grange siding (trader: J Hughill. The Railway Clearing House (RCH) points to the station being able to handle all types of passenger and goods traffic, and it was equipped with a 2 ton manually operated crane. The station closed to goods traffic on 10th August, 1964.
Currently the station is one of three passing points on the Whitby Branch, and Nunthorpe is the only one with working semaphore signals. Both platforms are signalled for departures towards Middlesbrough, only the eastern platform being signalled for Whitby-bound services (still a predominantly commuter-oriented station). The signalman hands over a token for the first section to Battersby for Whitby trains. There is a remote-operated token machine at Battersby, Glaisdale and Whitby. The Whitby branch is usually operated with one train on the branch between Nunthorpe and Whiby at any time. On summer Sundays two trains may operate on the branch when they cross at Glaisdale.
Nunthorpe East Junction marks the erstwhile junction for the Battersby route with the original line of the M&GR. Known by the NER as Nunthorpe Junction, it was renamed Nunthorpe East by the LNER (1923-47). The M&GR branch is a walkway now, reaching to Waterfall Viaduct at Slapewath from a few hundred yards away from this former junction.
Chaloner Junction - Cleveland Railway to Middlesbrough & Guisborough
Chaloner Junction, as was, marks the beginning of the two mile branch to Bolckow Vaughan's Chaloner Mine, opened in 1873. It crossed the main road on the level and followed the contours around the broad dale to the mine at the back (north) of Guisborough.
Output began at the mine in 1872 and it is considered a branch was opened from the Cleveland Railway in 1870 to bring in building materials, although a branch had first been proposed in 1864. In 1879 the mine was connected 'inbye' (underground) to Upsall. A large stationary engine was established on the surface at the mine to help with underground movements. After that the Chaloner Branch was used largely for moving coal and timber to the mine workings. When the branch came into NER ownership in 1882 within a short time the track was lifted but for a short length at the junction in 1919. The trackbed is still visible, although largely overgrown, behind a row of cottages close to Pinchinthorpe Station. In the other direction, across a narrow narrow road that used to lead onto the Guisborough road from Pinchinthorpe, the trackbed is still also visible for a few hundred yards.
There was also an incline to Bolckow Vaughan's short-lived Crowell Mine near the road junction. Walker Maynard & Company sank trial shafts at a site known as Tocketts Mill near the north-east of Guisborough, from where a branch left the lower part of the Chaloner Branch over two miles of rough terrain. A large pitch-pine viaduct was built to carry the line over the Chaloner Mine to Guisborough Road near Howl Beck. This project turned out to be a failure and the line saw very little traffic during its short life.
Pinchinthorpe's first station (S&DR) lay to the east of the Guisborough-Ayton road, its second (NER) was built across the road
Originally sited east of the original level crossing opened 25th February, 1854. A new station to the west of this crossing was authorised on 21st December, 1876 when the level crossing was substituted by a road bridge.
The station that served a local population of 287 in 1911 and issued roughly 7,500 tickets that year was renamed plain Pinchinthorpe on April 1st 1929 (some pen-pusher's idea of an April Fool's Day joke?) Twenty-two years later on 29th October, 1951 the station was closed to passengers and goods.
There was at the station a three lever Mackenzie & Holland ground frame. There had been a single lever to work the up distant signal. The NER listed a private siding here for a 'D. Baker' who was responsible for the Pinchinthorpe Powder Magazine (explosives for use at the nearby Crowell Mine),
The Railway Clearing House entry states that the station could only handle passenger and ordinary goods traffic. Indications on the ground across the trackbed from the old (M&GR) station house are that there was a small coal depot here in what is now the car park for the nature park accessed from the east side of the overbridge.
The Guisborough area - physical, with locations by name
Low Cross Junction
marks the original M&GR branch to the Cod Hill Mines. The branch ran up the main street of Hutton Village to the foot of the escarpment behind and reached the ironstone workings on a gradient of 1 in 19.
Hutton Gate and Hutton Junction
Hutton Gate Station was originally built as a private station without goods handling facilities to cater for Sir Joseph Pease's Hutton Hall Estate. The station was eventually closed on 1st October, 1903 after the failure of Sir Joseph Pease's bank. It was reopened as a public station on 1st January, 1904 and stayed open as an unstaffed halt and in the end shabby until the withdrawal of scheduled passenger services on 2nd March, 1964.
There was a distinctive brick built signal cabin adjacent to the platform with a frame five feet above track level. The down distant signal was an electrically-operated repeater and the frame had twenty working levers with four spares.
RCH records show the station was only able to handle passenger traffic, although there is a separate entry for the Hutton Gate Depot and siding. To the west of Hutton Gate Station a branch left the main running lines to the Belmont and Hunter Hill ironstone workings.
Hutton Junction marks the connecting line from the M&GR to the CR. When Guisborough Station signal cabin was closed on 18th March, 1932 Hutton Junction signal cabin - a 12'X10' brick structure with a nineteen lever frame 7'-9" above rail level - was renamed Guisborough. Frame details were changed to 20 levers with six spares and the cabin structure was changed to 11'-10"X 10'-3". The distant signal was an electrically operated repeater. The line into Guisborough Station was the first part of the M&GR to close altogether after passenger traffic finished. After that goods traffic carried on to Blackett Hutton until the line was taken out of use on 16th March, 1965. Between the junction and the station the M&GR had been crossed over by the CR and traces of that overbridge are still to be seen alongside the old M&GR trackbed.
Plans have been lodged to redevelop the old Blackett & Hutton factory site as a town park.
Guisborough station and motive power depot from the 1860s-1960s
A fairly compact site with a single platform and overall roof joining the station master's house, booking office and goods shed. In 1911 the station served a population of 7,453 and records indicate 72,222 tickets issued. Two years on, 1,059 tons of round timber and 122 wagon loads of livestock were handled.
The Guisborough signal cabin was an 11'-2" brick built structure with 14 working levers and a frame 4'-9" above rail level. The down distant and up advance starter signals were electically operated repeaters.
RCH records inform that the station was capable of handling all types of goods and passenger traffic, and the goods depot was well equipped with a 6 ton manually operated crane. The NER records show private sidings for the Chaloner Mines, for Bolckow Vaughan & Co Ltd and Hutton Gate Depots for Sir J W Pease and his tenants. RCH records list private sidings for Hutton Gate Depots and Siding and Chaloner Mines.
After closure of the station signal cabin in 1932 the two tracks into the station became two single lines for operating purposes. The former up line was used for passenger traffic into the station and the former down side was relegated to goods. A three lever ground frame was released by the signal cabin at the junction to operate the points for the bay platform and loco depot. The goods yard points were hand operated short armed 'throw levers'. After the branch was closed the station was demolished in May 1967 and a health centre built on the site.
Guisborough Motive Power Depot (mpd)
The shed structure was single road, with a 42' turntable in the yard for turning tender locomotives.
Allocations in LNER days were:
Bogie Tank Passenger (BTP) 0-4-4 Numbers 226, 358, 416, 595 and 1436 (the latter working as a steam 'autocar' (push-pull) with 'porthole' driver's compartment coach at either end that was used between 1923-1929 (this had been an NER service prior to Grouping); F8 2-6-2 tank loco from July 1929- November 1930; 12 cylinder Sentinel Railcar No.2283 'Old Blue' (these were named after the more famous stage or mail coaches in the area) from November 1930-September 1941; G5 0-4-4 tank engine 1883 from September, 1941.
Allocations in British Railways days: *G5 0-4-4 tank engine 67281 (formerly 1883) until shed closure 20th September, 1954.
*These engines did not survive the 1950s and were replaced by dmu's by 1958. All engines were scrapped at Darlington, none taken into preservation. However, one is being built from new at Shildon at the RRNE
Slapewath, and Waterfall Viaduct
Hutton Junction to Slapewath Junction
Spa Wood Junction was a mile and 1,147 yards from Hutton Junction. The NER recorded a 9' X 12' brick signal cabin structure with a frame made up of twelve working levers and two spares at a working level 13'-6" from rail level. The base of the cabin was 9' X 7'. The branch serving Spawood Mine was controlled from here. Opened in 1853 under the auspices of the Weardale Iron Company, the mines at Spawood were abandoned in 1890, and the workings were taken over by Sir B Samuelson & Co to supply their Newport Ironworks on the Tees. In 1917 the mine was taken over again, this time by Dorman Long (situated between South Bank and Grangetown) and they closed it finally in 1933 during the slack period. The mine was never re-opened, possibly either because it was worked out or the stone would have cost too much to retrieve, set against the profit from steel-making with the product achieved from this mine.
Belmont Mines Junction
Access was controlled to this new branch that was opened around 1901/1902, serving Belmont Mine that had been re-opened in 1907 by Bolckow Vaughan & Co. The first ironstone shipment was taken out in August, 1909, the last left in February, 1921. A three lever temporary ground Frame, named as 'Belmont Mine Siding Ground Frame' was installed at the junction with the NER's running lines.
Beyond Guisborough: Belmont Mine buildings and Lingdale Mine
Slapewath - Waterfall Viaduct
Built between 1858 and 1862 by the Cleveland Railway and crosses the Spa Gill to take ironstone from mines in the district to Normanby Jetty on the south bank of the Tees and to furnaces in the Ironmasters' District of Middlesbrough. The line was closed to traffic on 30th April, 1960, the last train to use the viaduct crossed on 2nd March, 1964 during an inspection by the Chief Civil Engineer for Teesside.
During use the bridge was officially numbered GUH1 Bridge No.7 at 10 miles 63 chains from the datum post. After closure the viaduct was sold to Mr and Mrs Frankland-Jones by British Railways Board (Regional) on 12th September, 1972.
There was a Frankland-Jones on the Electoral Roll for Guisborough in 2002, thereafter there is no record. Through third-party correspondence, Charles Morris the Chairman of the Cleveland Industrial Archaeological Society thought it likely to be part of Lord Guisborough's estate but others maintain it may be owned by the Skelton and Gilling Estates. Enquiries to either brought no result. Richard Murphy led a campaign to acquire listed status and therefore preservation for the viaduct. He got in touch with Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council about land ownership at the site and they confirmed it was not theirs but could not say whose it was. Stewart Ramsdale, R&CBC Conservation Officer answered:
'Dear Mr Murphy, I understand from my engineering colleagues that notification of the demolition of the viaduct would not be required. The notification/approval system apparently applies to buildings rather than structures. I also understand that while the notification system is in the public domain, and therefore accessible to members of the public, there is no requirement to publish notifications. This is probably because the system relates to public safety rather than a concern for buildings. Good luck with your endeavours'.
An enquiry through the Land Registry also provided little information as the thirteen properties listed were cottages, farms and a sawmill. Other enquiries let to the knowledge that the land was freehold either side of the Whitby road in the area around the structure. it also appears apart from various photographs no-one had ever published a historical account of the structure. Less in evidence is the bridge that once crossed the Whitby road to Skelton Park pit, at the junction of which there are structural remains at its eastern end. On 2nd September Mr Murphy wrote to English Heritage, asking for listing of the viaduct based on these claims to specific architectural and historical interest:
- It is over 150 years old
- It is the only disused viaduct of stone construction in East Cleveland remaining, Larpool (at Whitby) and Skelton - both listed - being built of brick
- There are bridges to the west which form part of the structure of the disused railway between Guisborough and Boosbeck that have already been listed. They seem to be architecturally and historically of a lesser interest
- Slapewath Viaduct has a very important role in the history of both ironstone mining and the development of the East Cleveland railway network. Aside from the two other structures mentioned above, all others have been dismantled or are in a poor state of disrepair. Upgang, Staithes Newholm Beck and Sandsend (near Whitby) viaducts were sold as scrap half a century ago and both Sandsend and Kettleness tunnels are unsafe and in a poor state.
In the months afterward Mr Murphy went on in his quest to gain listed status for Waterfall Viaduct. The preservation of this handsome, once necessary but now neglected part of Cleveland's industrial heritage was never far from his thoughts. At last, in December 2011 he received an e-mail from Peter Rowe of Tees Archaeology, telling him he had been successful. He felt much better for knowing that.
Slapewath Signal Cabin was one mile, 1,622 chains from Hutton Junction according to NER records. An original 14' X 12' wood built cabin with a frame of fifteen working and three spares was 11'-9" above rail level. This was superseded by a 20' X 12' wood built cabin with a twenty-four lever frame and six spares. Both up and down distants were electronically repeated;
Slapewath Depot controlled from a three lever ground frame for the Depot which was deemed redundant on 21st April, 1907. According to NER records there were the following private sidings here:
Siding Reference Trader(s)
Skelton Mines Bell Brothers
Slapewath Depots and Siding Public Use
Slapewath Mines Sir B Samuelson & Co. Ltd
Spa Mines Gjers, Mills & Co.
Waterfall Mines Cargo Fleet Iron Co.
RCH records show that Slapewath could only handle ordinary goods traffic; sidings were listed for Aysdalegate Mines, Skelton Mines, Skelton Park Pit Depot and siding, Slapewath Depot and Siding, Slapewath Mines, Spa Mines and Spawood Mines
This is one of a set of three pages on the Middlesbrough & Guisborough Railway,
see also - 38: Guisborough Railway Circular part 1 Why Was It Built?; and - 40: Guisborough Railway Circular Part 3 Mines and Lines
© 2013 Alan R Lancaster