South Pelaw Junction

South Pelaw Junction was a vital junction on the Tyne Dock to Consett railway line with connections to the East Coast main line at Ouston Junction, Tyne Dock via Washington as well as local collieries via Stella Gill.

South_Pelaw37006_and 008_come_up_the_bank_from_Tyne_Yard_

A classic late 1970s shot of Class 37s (37006 and 37008) double heading an iron ore train on it’s way up the hill to Consett.  Photo copyright Ernie Brack.

This site chronicles the history of the Tyne Dock to Consett line, concentrating, for the most part, on the section from Ouston Junction to Consett, as well as my plans to build a P4 gauge model railway of South Pelaw Junction itself as it was in 1971.

It is a location that fascinates me as I am just old enough to remember the ore trains being double headed by Class 37s running past the playing fields of my school, Pelton Roseberry, and of the lines passing under the Pelton Lane bridge when on the bus to Chester-le-Street but, unfortunately, not old enough to have recorded what I saw at the time.


The site of South Pelaw Junction today (2013) Photo copyright John Donnelly

The site includes a photographic history of the location (as well as selected sites further up and down the line from the junction), concentrating on the period from 1954 onwards when the new iron ore facilities came in to use at Tyne Dock, and a number of ‘past and present‘ pictures to show the massive changes that have occurred since the line was abandoned in early 1984 and redeveloped as part of a coast to coast cycle way.

As well as South Pelaw Junction itself, other locations covered are Birtley and WashingtonOuston JunctionStella GillPelton, Beamish, Shield Row (Stanley), Annfield Plain, GreencroftLeadgate and East Castle, Consett Station and other locations around Consett.

Iron Ore Pellets

The stuff without which the line would never have existed. Iron ore (taconite I believe) pellets collected from the site of Beamish Station which, even in 2014, well over 30 years after the last iron ore train ran, are just lying on the surface if you know where to look…

This site would not have been possible without the generosity of those who have supplied photographs of the locations on the line over the years.  I am always on the lookout for photographs of any location on the line so, if you have any, I would love to see them and, subject to your permission, publish them (full acknowledgement of copyright will, of course, be given).

If you spot any errors on the site, please let me know. I can be contacted via email here or leave a comment on the relevant page.

Use of Images

Please note that all images that appear on this site do so with the express, written, permission of the copyright holders.  Please do not copy them to other sites or social media platforms without permission, any such postings will be reported to the platforms involved.  

I have no issue with my own images (which are clearly marked as being copyright John Donnelly) being used in this way as long as my copyright is acknowledged.

Site Copyright © John Donnelly

11 thoughts on “South Pelaw Junction

  1. Alan Cessford

    I do not have any photographs of South Pelaw Junction or any of the Tyne Dock / Consett line but I do remember 9f’s double headed working the line with perhaps nine loaded wagons, I also remember Std Class 5 and Q6 working with lighter loads as well as molten metal flasks. This was between 1964 /1966


  2. David Milburn

    1966 – 2016

    It’s now 50 years since the last full year of steam working over the line to Consett. As a Beamish lad who lived literally feet away from the railway line I watched the trains for years and in my teens started to keep records. I’ve enclosed just a tiny sample from a week in July of 66 ( some folk then were bothered about England and the World Cup!!) showing the nature of freight workings and the motive power used. The 9Fs were still in charge as train engines for the ore workings but banking was in the hands of Class 40s. They certainly made the job easier for the steam crews.
    Coal and other workings, oil for example were done by O6s and K1s and WDs. These latter locos had always been around but in the last year of working many more appeared, the K1s from Alnwick and the WDs from the Yorkshire sheds.
    Diesels were often used to bank. If the train was a through working it would have steam at the head and the banker would be waiting at Pelaw. The diesels were put to work hard. I’ve seen a 22 hopper coal train climb through Beamish with a Q6 up front pulling four trucks and a Type 4 ( class 4) pushing the rest!
    The variety of freight had gone. There were no more pick up freights, trip workings and loads of scrap for the furnaces. And, as one by one the pits closed there was practically no coal moving down the line. But the iron company still needed material and so tons of ore, coal and oil made their way up the line each day.



    July 18th Monday.

    Beamish 63377 Oil train (8)
    92065 banked by D6820 Coal train (21)
    92060 banked by 92098 Coal train (21)

    July 19th Tuesday

    63379 Coal train (8)

    Seen at Beamish
    July 20th Wednesday

    63377 Oil train (8)
    92060 Iron ore empties
    92061 Coal train (12)
    92097 Iron ore empties
    July 21st Thursday

    92060 Iron Ore empties
    92098 Coal train (12)
    July 22nd Fri:day
    63366 Coal train (8)
    92060 banked by D5112 Coal train (19)

  3. David Goodliff

    My late father did his two years national service at Pelton Lane National Service Miners Hostel, working in the local coal mines 1946-48.
    The miners hostel was a nissen hut complex, on a site directly behind where South Pelaw Signal Box once stood. A housing estate is there now – built in the early 1960s I understand.
    Dad was a railway enthusiast, and I am a railway civil engineer.
    I have often wondered about that Signal Box now gone – when it was built, and when the line’s heydays were, operationally.
    Although I am ‘a Londoner’, I still occasionally stop over in Chester-le-Street and South Pelaw … ..
    David G.

    1. Porcy

      Thanks for that. I’ve been trying to remember what that place was for years. The boiler house was still standing when I was a nipper and my Uncle (who’s been up the the miners hostel in the sky for decades) had told me it’s original purpose. but I couldn’t bring it to mind. I think it became NCB offices that supplemented the NCB offices at No Place/Beamish prior to being replace by the NCB HQ (Coal House) on the Team Valley.


  4. David Goodliff

    Looking at the pics of the South Pelaw Jcn. model, there appears to be a p.way cabin on the opposite side of Pelton Lane (at road level) – to the signal box. Do the South Pelaw Jcn. Model Group have any photographic clues showing this p.way cabin, or the Pelton Lane level crossing access across the road to the colliery – they could share please?
    Advice I sought during a BR Eastern Region civil engineers Xmas Reunion at York last December, suggested that South Pelaw Junction was within the Consett Permanent Way Section, of British Railways DCE Newcastle Division.
    It is my aspiration to see the model one day, if it is planned to be shown at a model railway exhibition anytime soon … ..
    Yours sincerely,
    David Goodliff

    1. John Donnelly Post author

      I’ve never seen any photos of the level crossing but I’m told that some do exist, I shall ask around.

      The layout is due to appear at Railex NE in July 2018.


  5. Ben Scotting

    Hi, I am looking at woodlands local to Pelton and am interested in the history of a site sometimes called Twizell Woods Reclamation Site which is on Twizell Lane at NZ223522 and some 300m south of the dismantled railway. It is marked as a disused tip and has a significant mound and retaining wall. Can you provide any clue as to what was tipped there (I wondered if it had anything to do with the railway construction). The significant retaining wall means someone had an eye to moving and keeping some overburden in place.

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