Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Tracks of My Years

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Tracks of My Years

Article excerpt

IT is one of the little jewels of our area -and one that was very nearly lost to us forever.

Saltburn's miniature railway runs from the coast inland for about half a mile through Valley Gardens alongside Skelton Beck.

It delights visitors to the town and must have carried tens of thousands of passengers since it was first built.

But when was this railway built and by whom? It was the brainchild of one Herbert Dunn from the Bishop Auckland area.

It must have been a large engineering project to lay the track.

The first locomotive was ready to roll at Whitsuntide in 1947 and was given the somewhat anonymous name of No. 7. It only ran for one season before it was replaced.

The next engine, which was introduced for the 1948 season was a little grander and had the name Blacovesley.

But this name was soon changed to Elizabeth, possibly to celebrate the Coronation in 1953.

The track initially ran only as far as a bend in Skelton Beck and was only single track with no sidings or loops, which meant the whole train would reverse for the journey back.

The railway was sold to Cyril Pickering of Saltburn Motor Services in about 1953.

He extended the track over the beck so that it would terminate at what is now known as Forest Halt, introducing sidings for the locomotives.

The miniature railway continued to give thousands of holiday-makers pleasure throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

However, the drop in visitor numbers in the 1970s meant that the little railway was soon in financial difficulties.

In early 1975 the railway was bought by Langbaurgh Council but it did not open the railway that year because of the costs of repair which were estimated at pounds 12,000.

In fact the railway remained closed for the next few years as the repair bill had soared to pounds 21,890 to put it right. …

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