Sunderland South Dock

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by GNERman, 13 Apr 2011.

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  1. GNERman

    GNERman Established Member

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    All,

    Being in the Wear area with family allowed me to visit the current Out Of Use Sunderland South Docks Branch, which runs from (I can't remember the name of it...) Junction, approx 3 minutes on the train heading towards Seaham from Sunderland into the South Docks.

    Having walked the whole length of the line (apart from in the Docks) the line is in reasonable condition, with all track intact and, with some repair, reasonably useable.

    My research, and information from family, has informed that the branch was used in the 80's and 90's by both Oil and Coal trains, with Classes 37 and 56 being primarily used.

    There was also an engine shed there, with pictures proving this, and thus showing that the branch must have been well used.

    What I am trying to find out is both what the services are that used it, and roughly when were the last services along the branch.

    The last important bit of evidence I came across was a small EWS sign screwed into the trackbed about half way along, proving that the branch has been used after privatisation, but when and by what???

    Here's some photos I have come across :-

    http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1980964

    http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1980429

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinzac55/2716699006/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinzac55/3518192265/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/magility9/4362534953/

    the other but of info I have found is on the South Dock homepage, showing a pair of Industrial Shunters on the Dock, which were nowhere to be seen, apart from a small 2 road shed locked up, could they be inside here...

    http://www.portofsunderland.org.uk/rail_connection.php

    Anyone information or reports from anyone???
     
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  3. flymo

    flymo Established Member

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    If I remember rightly this would be the line heading to Hendon I think. Leaves the main line at Ryhope Grange. Not sure if that helps at all but it might help locate a bit more info.
     
  4. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Yeah, that’s the one. I wish I had more of my reference material on South Dock to hand, but for now, this’ll have to do:

    The Port of Sunderland operated/operates two Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0 Diesel mechanical shunting locos, delivered new to South Dock in the fifties. They were/are, as you rightly say, stored in the small two road shed in the docks complex. AFAIK, they had been stored in there unused for several years, before one of them appeared in 2007 on the dockside by the River. It was believed at this time that the loco had been sold either for scrap or preservation, but I don’t know for sure: It sat on the docks for about a fortnight and then it was gone, whether back into the shed with its’ sister loco or to pastures new I don’t know,

    AFAIK, the last traffic into South Dock was oil trains for the Petrofina terminal in 2001/2002, which used class 60s and TEA bogie tanks. The oil terminal has since been demolished but it was visible from the Marina across the river while it was still in existence. I heard talk of scrap trains from Stockton running into South Dock instead of travelling up to Tyne Dock a couple of years after this, but I don't think anything ever came of it.

    South Dock shed was used for servicing the steam locos that were used on the regular coal trains in the area. Raven Q6 0-8-0s made up a large percentage of its’ allocation I think, up until their withdrawal in 1967. It later acted as a fuelling point for class 56 locos working MGRs from Wearmouth Colliery and the like, but I think the steam roundhouse was demolished in ’67.

    South Dock had a small number of air brake and air horn fitted brake vans that were used for propelling moves of rakes of HAA coal hoppers along the dock. I think coal used to be either imported or exported, I can’t remember which but the second photo suggest imported, through South Dock.

    In about 1997, the branch was also used for an emergency training exercise for the emergency services, where a class 37 (37057 I think) was involved in a fictitious collision with a van.

    From Prospect Row and the “Welcome Tavern” pub on the top (It never looked welcoming enough for me to dare get too close to it, it is Hendon after all!) you could get a good view of the HAA hopper rakes that might be knocking about at the time.
     
    Last edited: 13 Apr 2011
  5. flymo

    flymo Established Member

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  6. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    I always thought coal would have been exported from Sunderland, never heard of it being imported (although that is not to say it wasn't). Tyne Dock had facilities built in the early 90s for importing coal, think it was even opened by either the Queen or Queen Mother, one of the two.

    Interestingly if you look out the window of a service going past Ryhope Grange signal box towards Sunderland you'll see several shuting signals on high posts. What these were used for I have no idea, although my guess is for trains reversing into the sidings at Ryhope.
     
  7. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    That second picture is of the NELPGs’ now preserved Q6, 63395, so the 1967 date sounds right, making it one of the last Q6s to remain in service.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    The Earles Sidings (Hope) to Seaham cement trains that ran until not too long ago (Or perhaps still do; I lost track of them once they started running up the Durham coast, instead of up the ECML and via Gateshead and hence stopped appearing north of Sunderland station, and I can’t remember seeing mention of them when I worked at Lafarge Hope for a little while: I only see the Oxwellmains to Seaham runs when I’m in the north east now) used be propelled out onto the down line towards Sunderland from the north end of Ryhope Grange yard by the 66, before setting forward “wrong line” for a few yards to reach the crossover onto the “up” line to head south back to Derbyshire. For that matter, the same move was required if the loaded train also came up the coast through Hartlepool, due to the connection of Seaham cement terminal to the main line being north facing.

    I too would have thought that it was more likely that coal was exported from South Dock, given the sheer number of collieries in the area, but I'm unsure.

    Additonally, does anybody know where the Brian Mills parcel depot was located? I’ve been led to believe that this was also located on or near the South Dock branch, and was the staging point for parcels trains to and from Sunderland. It closed in either the late seventies or early eighties, so it was before my time. I’m hoping that one of the older north east presences on this forum will be able to enlighten me.
     
  8. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    Thought I remember reading about it in one of PinzaC55's photos that it was in part of the new buildings at Sunderland station - unless it used to be somewhere else and moved there when the redevelopment took place.

    I'll have to check about the Seaham cemet trains, haven't looked for them in a while. Although I'm not sure if these shunting signalswere used by them, they look to have been out of use for a long time. They are quite similar to the ones you see at collieries and power stations for MGR hoppers, being mounted high on a post and not on the ground, but unusually only have two or three bulbs instead of the several I've seen. Need to find a picture to explain it a bit better.
     
  9. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Ah, if Brian Mills parcels depot was part of Sunderland station that would make sense. It’s the completely separate name that has thrown me for several years. Yeah I know the signals at Ryhope Grange you mean, thought I’d throw in the random fact about the Earles cement setting back procedure as a bit of additional interest.
     
  10. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    Ah right I thought you were saying that they used them. Quite interesting, if the Seaham trains are still running,a nd there is extra freight going down the Durham Coast, this would probably mean less time to do a run around at Ryhope. I did notice that they were clearing a bit of railway land just before Seaham station box, which would be idea for a run around if it was brought back into use.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I've just had a look at his Flickr site and the document I thought mentioned Brian Mills in fact doesn't specify it. One of those things where you thought you read something and your minds is playing tricks.
     
  11. GNERman

    GNERman Established Member

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    Well let's just say, looking at the overgrowth and condition of track, nothing has run over it for a couple of years at least... It would be nice to see some scrap workings along the branch, as there are scrap premesis in the South Dock, judging by a ship getting loaded full of scrap...

    Yep, aws next to the Pub today, For Sale and looking past its best... There are still some views into the Dock from that area, giving good views...


    A family member advises me that it is demolished but on the Branch, somewhere near the Ryhope end. Sorry it's a little brief but it's not concrete evidence either...
     
  12. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    Just done a little search into Brian Mills - this site has a location whcih would fit in with Hendon. However when I was looking at Pinzac55's Flickr the document about the redevelopment of Sunderland station says that part of the building was to be used for Littlewoods.

    According to this Littlewoods and Brian Mills were started by the same person. Wikipedia also mentions that there was a parcels clerk at Brian Mills. So in short perhaps the depot at Hendon was closed and shifted to Sunderland station when the new buildings opened?

    Also quite ironic that the former Sunderland station signal box was demolished whilst the much older Ryhope Grange box is still there.
     
  13. flymo

    flymo Established Member

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    According to this report from the Sunderland Echo the depot was located on Commercial Road which would put it on the Hendon Branch line between Promenade and Robinson Terrace. It even seems to boast a loading dock looking at Google Earth, then again it was a parcel depot so it probably would have one. :D
    Seemed to be fairly a regular rail service too with 40 haulage on occasion.
     
    Last edited: 13 Apr 2011
  14. wensley

    wensley Established Member

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    With regards to oil traffic I recall seeing a video of a 60 on bogie tanks passing through HPL and I assume this was one such working. Date would be early noughties.
     
  15. spacehopper

    spacehopper Member

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    Still a few former South Dock men knocking about. After shed closed I know a few of them had to take any vacancy they could so some ended up at York for a short time before getting a closer job.

    Story about a driver living out of a guards van. Driver came back off his holidays to find the van had gone for scrap along with his belongings.
     
  16. PinzaC55

    PinzaC55 Member

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    Hi there and glad you like my photos such as they are lolz!
    Historically the lines approached Ryhope Grange Junction from Hartlepool via the Durham Coast and Hartlepool via Murton. At RGJ they split into three lines; the Sunderland Central line, the Hendon Lines to Hendon Junction and the Londonderry Lines to Londonderry Junction. Thus there were four tracks from RGJ to Hendon Junction, the Hendon Lines and the Londonderry Lines which were effectively two separate railways each on its own embankment. There were signalboxes on the Hendon Lines at RGJ, Hendon Gasworks, Londonderry Junction and Hendon Junction and a gatebox (actually just a groundframe) at Grangetown Crossing. Hendon Gasworks didn't signal trains on the Londonderry Lines and was closed in 1937 being replaced by a groundframe. The Londonderry Lines had a five road marshalling yard at Lononderry Junction but this wasn't connected to the Hendon Lines until the Londonderry Lines were closed in 1967.
    Brian Mills was on the west side of the Hendon Lines between Hendon Gasworks and Londonderry Junction and had a single track line with a concrete loading bay.After the Londonderry Lines were closed a track was slewed over from Lononderry Yard to to connect with the Hendon Lines and this lasted till Londonderry Junction box closed in 1984 when everything here was drastically reduced.
    As far as I know the parcels depot at Sunderland station was only for BR Red Star and had no real connection with Littlewoods though I gues they must have humped a lot of goods round there down Union Street.
    I've a signalbox diagram for Ryhope Grange HERE http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinzac55/3853007533/sizes/o/in/photostream/
    And track plans for South Dock here http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinzac55/3811830732/
    And here http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinzac55/3810956327/sizes/l/in/photostream/
    Plus Londonderry Junction here http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinzac55/3853006975/sizes/o/in/photostream/
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    PS if you get the book "Railways Of Sunderland" it has a nice Ian S Carr photo of a 47 hauled train leaving Brian Mills with 29 wagons in tow. He says that up to the early 70's 4 trains a night would leave Brian Mills but that "The traffic ended in 1981".
     
  17. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    Pinza, do you know what those shunting signals were for at Ryhope Grange on the line to Sunderland? In the first link for the diagram at Ryhope box they are positioned from signal 59 and left of this.
     
  18. PinzaC55

    PinzaC55 Member

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    Off the top of my head they were for the run round loop which was between the Coast and Murton lines and allowed engines from Sunderland to run round their trains and head for South Dock and vice versa.
    As you probably know Ryhope Grange now controls the whole Coast line as far as Greatham and I think it's new signals allow for reopening of the South Dock line "if" it ever happens.
    PS the runround loop is marked as "carriage sidings" on the diagram but it was never used for passenger coaches to my knowledge.
     
  19. Anon Mouse

    Anon Mouse Established Member

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    I was allowed a short unnoffical look around the depot when I was younger, imagine that today?
     
  20. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    Thanks for that. Aye, IIRC they've kept Seaham station box to control the foot crossings but that is planned to go as well?

    Still quite suprising they all survived this long, would have thought it could have been rationalised ages ago.
     
  21. PinzaC55

    PinzaC55 Member

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    It's quite strange that they've kept Seaham box for the crossing when you'd think that power locked gates supervised by CCTV from Ryhope Grange would be more effective? Apparently they plan to build a footbridge there which again is ironic because Seaham used to have a footbridge.
    Re a posters earlier point about closing Sunderland box as opposed to Ryhope Grange I could be wrong but I think Sunderland box had Asbestos in it so they'd be keen to get rid of that.
    Also I asked the late John Boyes why BR kept Alnmouth box instead of for example the more moden Belford box and he said it was more to do with the length of cable runs required - if you have boxes A B and C it makes sense to keep B rather than A or C.
     
  22. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    Exactly, seems a waste of money from Network Rail's perspective. Where is the new boundary for changeover between Ryhope and Greatham?
     
  23. RochdalePioneers

    RochdalePioneers Member

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    My wife worked on South Dock until 2009, and I've driven onto the docks many times. Used to see quite a few 56s working tanks into the Fina depot, which was the only regular traffic there was. The network on the docks was quite extensive with tracks onto most of the berths. Where the access track from BR entered and met what I'll call central junction, the Fina depot was ahead curving away to the left, tracks out of use straight ahead towards Corporation Quay, and a track branching right across the Gladstone swing bridge. Both the swing and the track across it were OOU when I saw them.

    Behind central junction tracks continued along the west side of the roadway, with a short spur crossing the road to the engine shed where the Rushton shunters were kept. And yes, one day I saw them! One was still inside, the other sat on the spur with engine running. I assumed they were having a run out to stay in working order, though there was no traffic for them.

    Heading south from the engine shed a track continued on the west side of the road with a siding into the scrapyard. Well, more like scrap pile than an actual yard, usually with metal spilling across the siding onto the road. South from here the track crossed the road and that is where it ceased to be passable, with the concrete filled in in several places before petering out completely. If tracks ever went further south they were obliterated by the construction of the Northumbrian Water depot.

    Going across Gladstone Bridge the track into the dry dock was extant and clear, but beyond that it had mainly been buried, coming out in the odd place in the concrete as it crossed the road. If you look on Google Earth the clearest place you can still see tracks is at the main inner dock quay where the sidings and headshunts are still extant.
     
  24. PinzaC55

    PinzaC55 Member

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    I think the boundary is at Seaton Carew? I just popped up to Sunderland today on GCT and as I passed through Billingham (old station) I noticed what looked like preparatory works to replace the "Boom Gates" there with lifting barriers.
    It looks as though the purpose of the subsidiary signals at Ryhope Grange was that if a train came down from Murton and wanted to go to Seaham it would draw forward onto the Sunderland line then set back into the runround loop, run round it's train then set back out onto the Sunderland line before driving forward to Seaham. The one nearer the box probably acted as a repeater because the line is on a fair curve here.
     
  25. BOSCH

    BOSCH Member

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    Seaham foot crossing will be going soon,wont be an overbridge replacement though,its gonna be an underpass,they are currently digging it out as we speak !!! ;)
     
  26. PinzaC55

    PinzaC55 Member

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    That's interesting. It'll be ideal for the chavs to practice their graffiti skills and mug old ladies. :roll:
     
  27. jonty14

    jonty14 Member

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    I was back home at Seaham last Christmas and was suprised by the disappearance of the signal boxes there. The resignalling work was done on the quiet. I have not come across it in the railway press.

    Greetings from the Black Forest, Germany.
     
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