Ouston Junction

At Ouston Junction, the line to South Pelaw diverged from the route of the East Coast Mainline via the ‘slow’ tracks that ran all the way to Tyne Yard.

Ouston Junction in 1939. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

An HST passes Ouston Junction in the late 1970s. Photo copyright Colin Brewes

An HST passes Ouston Junction in the late 1970s. Photo copyright Colin Brewes

From 1954 to the late 1960s, the iron ore trains came from Tyne Dock via Washington so did not use Ouston Junction albeit, on occasion, and especially at the weekend, trains from Tyne Dock would come via Gateshead, joining the ‘slow’ lines from Tyne Yard and use Ouston Junction to join the Consett Line at South Pelaw.  The line from Washington was closed in the late 1960s and all iron ore trains came from Tyne Dock via Gateshead.

In 1974, with the iron ore for Consett now coming from Redcar rather than Tyne Dock, the route from Washington was reinstated and the iron ore trains no longer used Ouston Junction.

The photograph to the right shows an HST passing the junction shows the line to South Pelaw curving away to the right with the line to Washington passing along the embankment and over the bridge in the background.

At this time, prior to the closure of the steelworks at Consett, the full junction trackwork was still in place with both the East Coast Mainline and the line from South Pelaw Junction joining the ‘slow’ lines to Tyne Yard.

The Junction after the closure of the steelworks.

55013 “The Black Watch” at Ouston Junction on the 0722 Plymouth-Edinburgh. 21st June 1981. At this time, the junction was still in it’s original configuration.  Photo copyright Bill Watson

The following photo shows the junction after the closure of Consett Steelworks.  Note that, compared to the photo of 55013 above, the junction has already been rationalised with the removal of two crossovers, a remnant of which can be see on the left hand rail of the right hand track.

47405 at Ouston junction with 1E63 0942 Poole to Newcastle 02/09/1982. Photo copyright Dave Jolly

47405 at Ouston junction with 1E63 0942 Poole to Newcastle on 2 September 1982. Photo copyright Dave Jolly

45134 passes Ouston Junction on 5th June 1983. Work is progressing on the rationalisation of the junction and the line to South Pelaw. Photo Copyright Bill Watson

A steam crane at Ouston Junction on 5th June 1983 during the rationalisation of the junction and the line to South Pelaw. Photo Copyright Bill Watson

31164 at Ouston Junction on 5 June 1983 during the rationalisation of the junction and the line to South Pelaw. Photo Copyright Bill Watson

45147 at Ouston Junction on 5 June 1983 with the 16:15 Newcastle to Liverpool service during the rationalisation of the junction and the line to South Pelaw. Photo Copyright Bill Watson

Despite Ouston Junction being a very popular location for photographers, the image below is the only one I’ve seen, so far, of a train coming off the Consett Branch.

31222 comes off the line to Consett at Ouston Junction with a train of track panels on 20 September 1984. Photo copyright Stephen McGahon

31222 comes off the line to Consett at Ouston Junction with a train of track panels on 20 September 1984. Photo copyright Stephen McGahon

The Junction after the closure of the Consett branch…

1984-07_028 Mainline under Washington Branch looking east

Showing a slightly unusual view of the junction, taken in July 1984, this photo was taken from the bridge that crossed the ECML at the junction after the tracks to Washington were lifted. Photo copyright Mark Goadby

37110 at Ouston Junction with 6N64 Speedlink from Immingham to Tyne Yard 2 July 1985. The photo below shows the junction just a few months before the track on the Consett Branch was finally lifted. Note the truncated remains of the line from Consett to Tyne Yard. Photo Copyright Dave Jolly

Taken from the bridge that took the line from South Pelaw Junction to Washington, 47351 at Ouston Junction on 27 September 1985 with the line to Consett curving away to the left. Photo copyright Dave Jolly

31184 and 31229 at Ouston Junction on 25 July 1988. Photo copyright Bill Watson

37308 crossing Ouston Junction with 6S67 1452 Speedlink Coal from Healey Mills to Gartcosh 19/08/1988. Photo copyright Dave Jolly

37308 crossing Ouston Junction with 6S67 1452 Speedlink Coal from Healey Mills to Gartcosh 19 September 1988. Note that the bridge that carried the line to Washington in the background has been replaced by a footbridge.  Photo copyright Dave Jolly

The Site Today…

The site of Ouston Junction in 2014. Photo Author's Collection

The site of Ouston Junction in 2014. Photo Author’s Collection

The junction was removed when the line to Consett was completely lifted in 1985 and the ‘slow lines’ to Tyne Yard were removed later.  The following two photographs show the, now unrecognisable, site of the junction in 2014, today you would never know the junction had ever existed…

The bridge that carried the Washington line has been replaced by a footbridge.  In the photo to the left, the line to South Pelaw Junction originally curved away from the main line towards the building in the centre of the photograph.

The site of Ouston Junction in 2014. Photo Author's Collection

The site of Ouston Junction in 2014. Photo Author’s Collection

‘Ghosts of 9Fs past…’ – This is what the line from Ouston Junction to South Pelaw Junction looks like today. The photo is from the line from Washington, the line from the ECML is off to the right, not that there is anything to indicate that there was ever a line there anymore. Photo by the Author.

3 thoughts on “Ouston Junction

  1. HELEN DAVIES

    My 4X great grandfather was working as a railway porter in Leadgate in 1851. He rose to be a passenger manager by the 1890s. His name was Richard Carr born 1823 in Rotherham Yorkshire. Have you any old records which could supply me with any information on him? I believe he at first lived in Railway Cottages and then Prospect House. Thank you Helen Davies

  2. Richard Hibbs

    From the age of 11 I spent about four years as a schoolboy commuting from Chester-le-Street / Durham to Newcastle, which would have been between 1976 and 1980. Despite developing a keen interest in railways and everything I saw trackside to/from Newcastle every day, I’m sad to report I never took a single photograph en route throughout those four years and am therefore unable to contribute any images to the important task of documenting the history of this junction, which I understand comprised one of George Stephenson’s original oeuvres dating from as far back 1834 (?). In fact the only part of the line I ever saw first-hand was the ECML section from Ouston Junction to Low Fell Jnc past Tyne Yard – I was actually unaware of the existence / location of South Pelaw Junction and the historic links to Beamish / Stephenson until I came across this website. All I ever observed at Ouston were the lines disappearing off towards Consett (never been there!) and the bridge supporting the elevated trackbed passing overhead. But since I seem to possess a near-photographic memory a few word pictures might suffice … imagine for example the excitement of a young railway enthusiast as the tedious and over-crowded DMU from Chester-le-Street takes a detour from ECML, carefully tiptoeing across onto the slow lines at Ouston and thence ’round the back’ of Tyne Yard, losing altitude all the while as it trundles on its descent past Low Fell depot somehow rejoining the main route at King Edward Bridge, possibly even involving a double bonus ’round the back’ of Gateshead Depot – how exactly I don’t seem to quite remember, but it must have entailed passing back underneath ECML. Most of the observable action was of course on the Tyne Yard side – lines of withdrawn 24s just obscured by concrete trackbed supports for the line down from the reception tracks at the Ouston end of the massive marshalling yard / hump shunt, which I now realise hadn’t just magically appeared but had been made obsolete on the Consett run (?) by their class 37 cousins etc. Occasional glances towards the Birtley side of ECML tended to yield rather sparse returns, but I do recall being rewarded with split-second sight of a class 25 operating in a very small unidentified industrial siding (any suggestions?) and the more familiar double-headed 37s on their elevated course towards Washington, but only once … I realise now this Junction has a much richer history than I ever imagined back in the ’70s with industrial ramifications stretching way back into 19C but feel strangely re-assured that it has it’s very own guardian Angel (!) watching over it these days despite the almost complete obliteration of all trace of the railway infrastructure that has fuelled so much of my individual memory – thank you!

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