1980 to Closure

They think it’s all over, unfortunately it is now…

The late 1970s in the North East of England saw a terminal decline in the steel industry with Consett affected by both local competition on Teesside and abroad, not helped by the vast costs involved in getting the iron ore to the works in the first place.

September 1980 saw the closure of the Steelworks and with it went the whole reason for the existence of the line to Consett which, inevitably, despite local protests in particular from the Derwentside Rail Action Group, led to it’s closure leaving Consett as the largest town in England without a rail connection.

For a superb video montage of photographs of a number of trains on the line between 1980 and closure, click here.

Track lifting…

Due to the number of photographs I’m getting, I’ve created a separate page covering the track lifting trains which can be seen here.

One last hurrah…


46026 heads past South Pelaw Junction on the return journey from Consett heading for Ouston Junction. Photo Copyright Dave Jolly

On 17 March 1984, the last passenger train ran from Newcastle to Consett.

The train was pulled by Class 46 locomotive 46026 which carried a headboard and a wreath as well as the number plate of 92066, a 9F steam locomotive that had previously worked the iron ore trains from Tyne Dock to Consett.

For more photographs and information on the last passenger train click here.


46026 runs ‘wrong line’ on the climb from Ouston Junction approaching South Pelaw Junction. By this time, the ‘down’ line had already been decommissioned hence the wrong line running of the train. Photo Copyright Neil Young


Photo copyright John Carter

46026 on the last passenger train to consett at Stella Gill (17 March 1984)

A superb shot of the train as it rounds the curve on the way to Consett under the bridge from South Pelaw Junction past the site of the Stella Gill sidings. Photo Copyright Bill Watson

The end is nigh…

The following photos were all taken in early March 1984 just 2 weeks before the final passenger train ran.  By this time, the majority of the junction trackwork had already been lifted.

Stella Gill March 84

Looking towards Stella Gill. Note the remains of the buffer stop that had protected the end of the single truncated line that remained after the rest of the Stella Gill lines had been lifted. Photo copyright Colin Alexander

South Pelaw Junction March 84

Looking back towards South Pelaw Junction from the site of Stella Gill sidings with the line to Consett climbing on the left. Photo copyright Colin Alexander

South Pelaw Junction 2 March 84

Looking towards South Pelaw Junction from underneath the A693 bridge. By this time, the lines to Washington on the left had already been lifted. Photo copyright Colin Alexander

South Pelaw Junction 1 March 84

South Pelaw Junction looking towards Washington with the photographer standing on the trackbed of the already lifted lines to Washington. Photo copyright Colin Alexander

From Stephen McGahon, two photos of the junction from 1983 and 1984.

South Pelaw Junction on 15 June 1983.  I’m amazed that the warning sign has lasted as long and wonder if it ended up in a private collection. Photo copyright Stephen McGahon

South Pelaw Junction on 14 May 1984, two months after the last passenger train ran.  The Washington Branch and the signal box were gone by this time and note that the ‘up’ line to Consett has been severed as well.  The last passenger train ran wrong to the junction before switching to the correct line at the turnout in the upper middle of the photo.  Photo Stephen McGahon

Carting it away…

Once the Consett steelworks closed, the line that had, for years, helped supply the vital iron ore for the steel making, was used to take the scrap away as the steelworks were demolished.

South Pelaw 26-4-82 37062

37062 passes South Pelaw Junction with a scrap train heading for Tyne Yard (26 April 1982) Photo copyright Stephen McGahon

Decline sets in…


Photo copyright John Law

Over the years, the track layout at the junction was rationalised, first with the closure and ripping up of the Stella Gill sidings and later with parts of the actual junction itself.

An undated photo albeit, from the track layout, it appears to be sometime between 1980 and 1982 with the down connection to the Washington line having been severed and link between the Ouston Junction line and what was Stella Gill severed as well.

The Washington line was next to go following the closure of the Steelworks and, by 1984, most of the junction track work had gone.

37069 and 37019 at South Pelaw Junction

37069 and 37019 at South Pelaw Junction in 1980. Photo copyright Rail-Online

Unidentified Class 37 on steel train leaving South Pelaw Junction heading for Ouston Junction

An unidentified Class 37 leaves South Pelaw Junction heading for the East Coast Main Line at Ouston Junction in 1980. Photo Copyright Alan Lewis

The photograph to the right is one of very I’ve seen that were taken from the bridge at the Washington end of the junction. Despite it being a footbridge it does not appear to have been anywhere near as popular with photographers as the bridge at the other end of the junction.

The two lines in the centre are sidings and the two at the extreme left are the lines to Washington.  The sidings which, judging by the rust and the encroaching undergrowth, have been out of use for some time have already lost their connection to the Washington lines.  Like the railway itself, the collection of buildings to the right have completely disappeared as has the bridge that the photograph was taken from.

3 thoughts on “1980 to Closure

  1. Alan Featonby

    Hi John,

    May I be so bold as to request a correction to the spelling in the first posting above. The competition was on the banks of the River Tees, not the River Tee, therefore “Teeside” should read “Teesside”. A small error in the big scheme of things but it always bugs me when it’s spelt incorrectly.
    I enjoy your blog and follow your progress with interest.

    Kindest regards


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