Tanfield Railway Steam Gala - June 17th

Tanfield Railway - or waggonway as it was known at the time - was built in 1725. Its massive engineering was unlike anything else in its era. It was a triumph of engineering over nature, a clear signal that a new industrial age was upon the world, and that railways would play a massive part. It was first laid down more than a quarter of a century before the first railway officially sanctioned by government. This was over 75 years before the first steam locomotive and a whole 100 years earlier than the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Tanfield Railway is the world's oldest railway and will be the first railway to celebrate a tricentenary in 2025.
We only had one Jeep at Tanfield this year. Lynne had to leave mid afternoon to take Lyta to a dancing rehearsal, so followed in a normal car to make a quick getaway. We arrived quite early in the Jeep, while the locos were still building up steam. The small diesel shunter was busy bringing the coaches out of the sheds to assemble the trains.

As usual, the three Tanfield steam locos were joined by two guest steam engines for the event, all having connections to the local area and the coal industry. The pictures start with Andrews House Station, the central and main station on the line. "Jessie" was parked up on the hill top, overlooking the Marley hill yard. The other classic cars on show were also parked up on this field at the top of the bank down to the yard, loco and coach sheds.

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A first for me this year was a look inside the Marley Hill storage shed. This has always been closed on previous visits, and I think is only open when staff are available. There are a number of projects in here including steam and diesel locos, wagons and coaches. While there was quite a lot in there, it is only a small selection of the rolling stock that is on site.
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The locos frequently changed duties across the day. Sometimes they were pulling passenger trains in addition to performing shunting demonstrations in Marley Hill yard. Every so often they stopped at Marley Hill or Andrews House to take on water and coal. The guest locos were No.60 'Austerity" class, a National Coal Board engine from Lambton Railway and No.15, a Central Electricity Generating Board loco from Dunston Power Station.
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Sir Cecil. A Cochrane
Keighley Corporation Gas Department No. 2
Joicey Collieries No. 3, Twizell
Armstrong Whitworth diesel electric Reyrolles No. 2
( on shunt release in Marley Hill yard )
National Coal Board, Backworth railway No. 49 (on static display)

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tanfield_gala18.jpg (83923 bytes) At Marley Hill yard is a loco shed which is the oldest in the world still in use. The shed was built in 1854. There are various tools and machines along the inside and a forge at the far end. In the side buildings, along the North West wall, are machine shops for the manufacture and maintenance of locomotives. They include a huge lathe for turning the wheels and tyres on locomotive and wagon. tanfield_gala21.jpg (74518 bytes)
Many of the tracks in Marley Hill yard are full of rusting old locomotives, coaches and wagons. With time and money, many could be brought back to life, but due to the shear quantity of stock there, it could take many lifetimes!
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Here's some of the classic vehicles in the field next to Marley Hill. Several of the car owners had the polish out within seconds of parking up! Not something I've had to worry about with the Jeeps!! One unusual vehicle was a 2 foot gauge wagon, powered by a motorcycle. It is a reproduction based on a 1967 contraption built by volunteers working on the Festiniog Railway's deviation line.
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Also on show at Marley Hill was Marley the pit pony. Marley pulled a 2 foot gauge coal wagon on several occasions across the day.
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We took a ride on the train, heading South through Causey Arch to East Tanfield. This was behind 'Austerity" class No.60. At East Tanfield, No.2 and "Sir Cecil. A Cochrane" were hooked up to the back of the train for the up hill journey to Andrews House. While stopped at Andrews House, the engines were swapped for No.3 "Twizell". We stayed on the train while the swapped happened before continuing North to Sunnyside. "Twizell" was run around the passing loop at Sunnyside to pull the train for the return trip back to Sunnyside.
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A selection of restored and un-restored wagons from across the history of the railway.
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