Although the 9Fs are, perhaps, most associated with the iron ore trains to Consett, before they came in to use, the iron ore trains were hauled buy either Q7s or, in this case, Thompson O1s. Like the 9Fs they were modified with the addition of Westinghouse Air pumps on the right hand side of the footplate to operate the doors on the iron ore wagons. Unlike the 9Fs, due to their power, the O1s were limited to trains of 8, rather than 9, iron ore wagons.
Here we see O1 63760 crossing the junction from the Washington Branch to the main line to Consett. Once the train has passed the bridge on the left, it will wait for it’s banker to be attached before proceeding up the line. Empty coal wagons can be seen in the colliery exchange sidings and the signal that can be seen above the third iron ore wagon would suggest that a train is due to cross the junction from the Consett line to head down the Washington branch.
At the same time as the O1 was crossing the junction (it can just be seen under the bridge in the background) we have another photographer a little further along the line at Stella Gill. Here we can see the six incoming and outgoing lines for the Stella Gill Yard which was off to the left of the photo and consisted of 36 sidings in to which came the coal from several local collieries. This was also the route of the original Stanhope and Tyne Railway before the ‘Annfield Plain’ diversion was built which can be see in the background with the start of the climb to Consett.
The bridge in the foreground still stands today as it carries a gas main which can clearly be seen attached to the girders although it looks rather different today as the ‘valley’ underneath it has been filled in and the bridge is now at ground level. As with all the infrastructure on the layout, the bridge, signal box and signals are all scratch built.
By the late 1960s, very early 1970s, all of the lines at Stella Gill had been lifted and the signal box had been demolished. As mentioned, the valley was filled in and hundreds of trees planted. Below is a photo of the bridge as it is today taken from just off the centre left of the model photo above.