1970 to 1979

A decade of change…

The late 1960s had seen the closure and demolition of the local collieries and the ripping up of the complex of sidings at Stella Gill save for a single siding and changes continued in the 1970s.

1974 saw a number of changes to the ore trains:

  • The iron ore was now coming from Redcar rather than Tyne Dock
  • The 56 ton ore wagons were replaced with 100 ton PTA bogie wagons.
  • The Class 24s were replaced with Class 37s

Off the rails…

Sep 79 37053/98

Class 37 locomotives 37053 and 37098 derailed at the junction just before reaching the signal box.  Note the rotary buckeye coupler which allowed the wagon to be rotated for unloading without having to uncouple. Photo Copyright Terry Hutton

Accidents at the junction were comparatively rare but one such incident occurred in September 1979 when a pair of Class 37’s returning from Consett with an empty ore train came off the rails, due to a brake failure, while negotiating the junction for the Washington line and came to a stop just short of the signal box.

I believe that the signalman that day was on only his second day in the South Pelaw Junction Signal box and one can only imagine his thoughts as he saw this lot off the rails and headed for the box…

Sep 79 37053/98

Photo Copyright Terry Hutton


Note just above the first wagon that the lines that allowed trains to and from Ouston Junction access to the sidings at Stella Gill have been severed. Photo copyright Colin Brewes


Photo copyright Colin Brewes

Passengers once again…

South Pelaw Signal Box 1979

South Pelaw Junction Signal taken from the County Durham Crusader railtour in May 1979. Photo Copyright Alan Lewis

In the late 1970s and early 1980s the line saw a number of railtours which proved very popular with enthusiasts, so much so that one tour, the ‘County Durham Crusader’, ran on consecutive weekends in May 1979.

Further details of the passenger railtours on the line can be found here.


On 19th May 1979, 37085 passes South Pelaw Signal Box with the RPPR “County Durham Crusader”. Photo copyright Bob Lumley

Rail 150 Tour 6-9-75

The months May to September 1975 saw a number of DMU railtours on the line as part of the Stockton & Darlington 150 celebrations. Here a 7 car consist negotiates the junction having arrived from Ouston Junction. Photo copyright Stephen McGahon.

All change on the ore trains…

As mentioned above, double headed Class 37 locomotives replaced the Class 24s on the ore trains in 1974 with a change of wagons as well.

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. By this time, the single line in the foreground is all that remained of the once vast complex of sidings at Stella Gill and, even then, judging by the rust, it hadn’t been used in some time. The train has entered the junction from the ECML via Ouston Junction rather than from the Washington line which would suggest that the photo was taken whilst the Leamside line was being upgraded to enable HSTs to use it as a diversion when the ECML was closed. Photo copyright Ernie Brack.


37008 and 37006 negotiating the junction and then heading up the hill past the site of Stella Gill sidings on their way to Consett with a loaded ore train. Photo Copyright Ernie Brack


37008 and 37006 negotiating the junction and then heading up the hill past the site of Stella Gill sidings on their way to Consett with a loaded ore train. Photo Copyright Ernie Brack

37072 and an unknown sister pass South Pelaw Junction with an iron ore train for Consett in November 1979. Photo copyright Pete Doel.

Last years of the iconic ore wagons…

Prior to double heading by Class 37 locomotives, the ore trains were pulled by specially modified Class 24 locomotives allocated to Gateshead shed.


On 28 June 1971, Class 24 5103 in green and an unidentified blue class mate on a Tyne Dock to Consett iron ore train passing South Pelaw Junction. Photo Copyright Bill Jamieson


Approaching South Pelaw Junction on 28 June 1971, are a pair of Gateshead Class 24s, headed by no 5107 with iron ore empties from Consett to Tyne Dock via Tyne Yard and Gateshead. The bracket signal controlled access to the old direct route via Washington although this was no longer in use as a through at the time, although it would later re-open. Photo Copyright Bill Jamieson


On 30th September 1970, Class 24s 5103 and 5110, both still in green livery hauling a fully loaded iron ore train from Tyne Dock to Consett. Photo Copyright Bill Jamieson


In late 1973, 24105 heads an empty ore train at South Pelaw Junction heading towards the ECML via Ouston Junction. Photo Copyright Robert Carroll


In the early 1970s, D5107 and an unidentified class mate at Low Fell with an iron ore train bound for Consett. Photo Author’s Collection

It’s not just about the iron ore…

Of course, it wasn’t just iron ore trains on the line, coal trains headed to and from Consett and trains took the steel away from Consett.

37053 passes the site of Stella Gill with a train of 21T hoppers on 9 July 1975. Photo copyright Chris Davis

37205 at Site of Stella Gill Sidings

In 1977, 37205 with a train of empty bogie bolsters leaves South Pelaw Junction past the site of Stella Gill sidings on it’s way to Consett. Photo copyright Rail-Online


On 20th August 1971, Class 37 6833 heads up the Consett line past South Pelaw Junction with what appear to be empty coal hoppers from Tyne Yard to one of the still working collieries on the line. The direct line to Tyne Dock passed through the extreme right hand span of the bridge in the background. Photo Copyright Bill Jamieson


On 20th August 1971, Class 37 6772 drifts down towards South Pelaw Junction with a load of rolled steel plates from Consett to Tyne Yard. Photo Copyright Bill Jamieson


On 28 June 1971, Class 37 6771 brings a train of bogie bolsters loaded with steel from Consett Works downhill past South Pelaw Junction and heads for Tyne Yard. The rusty lines in the foreground were the former direct line to Tyne Dock via Washington. Photo Copyright Bill Jamieson


On 20th August 1971, Class 37 6952 brings empty 16t coal wagons back from Consett to Tyne Yard. Photo Copyright Bill Jamieson


On 30th September 1970, Class 37 6712 eases it’s load of empty coal hoppers downhill on the approach to South Pelaw Junction. From the look of the smoke, the wagon brakes have been pinned down all the way from Consett. Note the track bed for the, now removed, Stella Gill sidings in the foreground. Photo Copyright Bill Jamieson


On 30th September 1970, Class 37 6770 drifts over the junction at South Pelaw with trip working 9P30 conveying rolled steel products from Consett to Tyne Yard from where the loads will be distributed to British Steel Customers. Photo Copyright Bill Jamieson

2 thoughts on “1970 to 1979

  1. Peter Waterhouse

    Fabulous photographs. I lived in Consett 1970-73 and wished I’d taken more notice of the trains.
    I do remember being at a meeting in a church hall in Annfield Plain which was adjacent to the railway and when an ore train went by it was like an earthquake and rust showered down from the ceiling!

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