STELLA GILL

Beyond the road bridge at the west end of the junction was the vast array of sidings at Stella Gill where coal trains would be marshalled for journeys up the line to Consett (trains for Consett would reverse out of the sidings over South Pelaw Junction and then move forwards up the incline to Consett) and to the rest of rail network.

Google Earth Image of Stella Gill 1945

Site of Stella Gill sidings in 1945 from Google Earth

As well as the junction, the sidings connected to a series of inclines (the two closest to Stella Gill being Waldridge Incline, which ran next to William Street in Pelton and Eden Incline part of which, including Pelton Level shed, is now Roseberry Grange golf course near Grange Villa) that brought coal from the local collieries as far away as Waldridge near Chester-le-Street.

With the closure of the local collieries, the sidings lost their reason for being and, by the early 1970s, had been lifted with the exception of just a single track remaining and all of buildings, with the exception of the NCB shed and the bridge, which carried a footpath, demolished.

The sidings were controlled by their own signal box (called Stella Gill Flatts), photographs of which are few and far between but, courtesy of Keith Hoult, I can publish the pictures seen here.

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Photo copyright Keith Hoult

Stella Gill Signal Box

Photo copyright Keith Hoult

Stella Gill 1

Photo copyright Keith Hoult

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Remarkably, this photograph was taken from the same location as the one above… Photo copyright John Donnelly

Passing the site of Stella Gill coke works, a Type 2 diesel with a train of 20 loaded hopper wagons gets assistance from a 9F. Photo copyright Bill Watson

LNER K1 62007 sets off from South Pelaw Junction past the site of Stella Gill sidings on a loaded coal for Consett. Photo copyright Bill Watson

Today, the whole ‘valley’ that the tracks ran in has been filled in such that the bridge next to the signal box is now at ground level and, due to the growth of vegetation it is all but impossible to take pictures from the same positions today as evidenced from the photo above…

Site of Stella Gill Signal Box

The site of Stella Gill Flatts signal box on 9 April 2014. The ground is now at the level of the first floor windows of the signal box. Photo copyright John Donnelly

There is no trace at all of the signal box and only the large NCB building in the background remains, some pictures of which, in it’s current state, can be seen further down this page.

Besides the bridge which is still used as a footpath today, the NCB shed whilst, for the most part, derelict, is still used (as of December 2013) for storage purposes by at least one local fertilizer business.  The only other visible remains are some of the fence posts that can be seen in the last photo of the signal box above.

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The site of Stella Gill sidings in 1984 after the closure of the line clearly showing the raising of the ground level to fill in under bridge. Photo copyright Colin Alexander

The Site Today…

As I mentioned earlier, the whole site has changed substantially and nothing demonstrates this better than the 2009 Google Earth image below:

Google Earth Image of Stella Gill Sidings

Site of Stella Gill Sidings in 2009 from Google Earth

The NCB shed is clearly visible at bottom left at the East End Bridge at South Pelaw Junction at the top right showing that area where the sidings were is now completely covered in trees which are a major challenge to try and navigate through in search of remains!

The route of the Consett line can be seen curving away to the top right and the lines towards other local collieries are visible towards the bottom left and clearly visible is the large residential development that has taken place in the area since the closure of the local collieries in the late 1960s.

As mentioned earlier, the land under the bridge that spanned the sidings was filled in and the bridge, whilst still carrying a footpath no longer spans anything and remains, as I understand it, only because it supports a gas main which can be seen in the photos below.

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Photo copyright John Donnelly

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Photo copyright John Donnelly

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Photo copyright John Donnelly

Prominent in the photos of the signal box above but equally visible in all photographs of Stella Gill looking from South Pelaw is the NCB shed, one of the largest buildings on the route, the end of which is visible in the photo below taken in 1966.

Stella Gill Shed

Photo copyright Roy Lambeth

One of the few buildings on the route that remain, the pictures below show the NCB shed as it was on 30th November 2013 and 9th April 2014.

It is, as you would expect, derelict and has attracted the attention of the local vandals and graffiti artists.

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Photo copyright John Donnelly

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Photo copyright John Donnelly

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Note that the vent pipe on the end of the building which shows as a light grey colour in the picture from 1966 is still in place. Photo copyright John Donnelly

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A view from the trackbed of the line to Consett giving a idea of just how big the building is. Off to the right is a large area of concrete hard standing that formed part of the long demolished coke works. Photo copyright John Donnelly

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A view along the side the building closest to the Consett line. Photo copyright John Donnelly

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An outside toilet perhaps? Photo copyright John Donnelly

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A look up the side of the building closest to the Stella Gill Sidings. Photo copyright John Donnelly

Alongside the shed was the ‘valley’ that the Stella Gill sidings ran through.  This has been filled in and now looks like this:

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Site of Stella Gill Sidings and, judging by the straight lines of trees, nature got a helping hand in reclaiming this bit of land… Photo copyright John Donnelly

In the first photo at the top of the page there is a fence running from the left centre, the posts of which are still standing today:

Old fence posts at Stella Gill

Fence posts at Stella Gill. Photo copyright John Donnelly

This is the site of the large building in the background, part of Stella Gill Coke works, of the first photograph:

Site of Stella Gill Coke Works

Site of Stella Gill Coke Works. Photo copyright John Donnelly

Site of Coke Works

Turning 90 degrees to the left from the photo above, it is hard to believe that this was once a Coke Works covered in buildings and railway tracks… Photo copyright John Donnelly

December 2014

As of December 2014, British Gas are digging up the area around the NCB shed which has uncovered some railway related pieces including the concrete sleepers in the following photographs:

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Photo Copyright John Donnelly

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Photo Copyright John Donnelly

5 thoughts on “STELLA GILL

  1. Chris Oates

    WOW!

    Thank you so much for putting this site together, my daughter and I live in the houses near what was once Stella Gill Flats and have become very interested in the history of the site!

    Not least I wanted to de-mistify what is now a creepy looking derelict NCB building so that my daughter doesn’t worry about it – the school rumour mill has the old shed used for lots of gory things haha.

    Its great and tinged with sadness to read about what used to be here before our house, once again thank you – your work is important and appreciated

    Regards
    Chris

  2. Dave Gardner

    Nice one Chris. I walk and cycle pass this route regularly. As you rightly point out the line at the back of the shed was the Consett line. However the line that went under the bridge was originally the Stanhope to Tyne railway opened in 1834 which became the Pontop to South Shields. Are you aware of any books that have been written on Stella Gill. I have never come across anything that describes what would have been a very busy and thriving marshalling yard back in its hey day,

  3. Alan Ward

    I did not expect to find a site that would explain for me the enigma of a major rail bridge at ground level.

    I enjoyed unravelling the layout.

    What was the purpose of the concrete road that leads from the inner end of the bridge toward Chester le Street ,that is several hundred metres long and in good condition ?

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