Tanfield Railway Industrial Steam Click on thumbnail to enlarge image, view caption and use slideshow options. To return to this page click on the image background For nearly three hundred years a network of industrial railways operated in north-east England. The Sunniside to Causey Arch section of the preserved Tanfield Railway dates from 1725, making it the oldest working in the world. The removed line northwards operated from c1647 to 1964, carrying coal down cable -operated inclines to shipping staithes on the River Tyne.Woodlands surround the Causey Arch built by Ralph Wood in 1726 and now the world’s oldest surviving railway bridge. It carried a standard gauge timber waggonway over which wooden chaldron waggons were pulled by horses. The preserved remains of the Tanfield Railway reopened in stages between 1975 and 1992.There was mixed weather for the 2008 Steam Gala Weekend. This coal waggon train was hauled by Bellerophon, an industrial locomotive designed by Josiah Evans, built at the Haydock Foundry in 1874 and visiting from its home base on the Foxfield Railway in North Staffordshire.This small brake van behind Bellerophon was originally used by the Lambton, Hetton and Joicey Collieries, formed by amalgamation in 1924, but is likely to have a longer history. It provided transport and shelter to the guard and railway staff as the train worked across the system.The 2007 Gala locomotives stand at the Marley Hill engine shed. Built 1854 and closed for colliery use in 1970, it continues to house engine maintenance or complete restoration work. Much of its original equipment is still in use. Sidings in the yard store locomotives and rolling stock awaiting future resurrection.Under lowering skies and in light rain, visiting Furness Railway No. 20 and Bellerphon steam out of the yard. No 20 was built by Sharp Stewart & Co in 1863, sold to a steelworks in 1918 and retired in 1960: restoration to its original form was completed in 1998. It is the oldest standard gauge locomotive in steam in Britain.Currently in storage, Wellington was constructed by Black, Hawthorn & Co in Gateshead in 1873. It was last in steam on the four miles of the Tanfield Railway between Sunniside and East Tanfield opened in stages between 1975 and 1992.This view down the central gangway shows the locomotive shed filled with active locomotives at this end and others in various states of repair and full restoration aligned behind. Much of the early workshop equipment survives, including a belt drive system that connects machinery to primary motor power in an engine room alongside.Under kinder skies, No 20 and Bellerophon stand between an overbridge and the signal box to the north of St Andrews House Station. In appearance, both are very much part of the design aesthetic that imbued the many independent railways in Great Britain in the nineteenth century.The Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns locomotive works built No 49 in 1943 for industrial use. It now hauls restored and new passenger coaches constructed in the Railway workshops as well as original wood and steel coal wagons.This long handled firebox shovel and rakes rest on brackets fitted to the running plate of Sir Cecil A Cochrane. This engine was built at the Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns works in 1948 for use at the Redheugh Gas Works at Gateshead.These lifting hooks and chains hang in the Marley Hill Shed. All the equipment needed to undertake most locomotive maintenance, and restoration is available to the engineering staff who work there: most are volunteers offering the wide range of skills needed to operate even a small preserved railway.This small detail of a rail and point blade is from Causey Arch Station. There, a simple grassed platform in the woods adjoins the walk across the stone Causey Arch eighty feet above the Bobgins Burn. Completed in 1726, its single span of 105 feet remained the largest in Great Britain for thirty years.The yard at Marley Hill Shed stores locomotives and rolling stock as well as a great variety of materials related to track and infrastructure. This still life of rusting coal truck couplings is one of many such compositions waiting to be discovered.This steam powered breakdown train turret without its jib wears splendid rust red. It was constructed by John H Wilson & Co. Ltd in Liverpool on an unknown date, but that information comes from the photograph as notes were not made on site.Its impossible that any Tanfield Railway train will reach anywhere near the 60 mph indicated by this collection of line side speed restriction signs. Anyone interested in both restoration and quiet decay in an industrial setting would find much to record at Marley Hill shed.The constituent moving parts of a steam locomotive are often beautifully sculptured objects in their own right. This assemblage is on the third driving wheel of Bellerophon and is part of an unusual if not unique combination of steam valve designs by George Stephenson and Daniel Gooch.I have little experience of outdoor night photography which a session in the rain, tripping over the mangrove forest of tripods, the rails tracks, and not being able to read camera settings, very marginally enhanced. Hindsight suggests that I might explore this ghostly imagery should an opportunity arise.