Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Railway's Back on Track

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Railway's Back on Track

Article excerpt

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

But thankfully Saltburn's miniature railway is still with us.

But the history of this attraction has not been as smooth running and at one time it was all but abandoned, left derelict and its future was in serious doubt.

The little railway runs from the coast inland for about half a mile through the highly picturesque Valley Gardens alongside the stream known as Skelton Beck.

The trainline, which serves no other purpose than to delight visitors to Saltburn, has carried thousands of passengers over the years.

But where does its story start? The railway was actually the brainchild of Herbert Dunn who was a miniature railway enthusiast from the Bishop Auckland area. It is not clear whether he built the railway single handed, but in any event the first locomotive was ready to roll at Whitsuntide in 1947.

The petrol driven vehicle was made to resemble a conventional steam locomotive. The locomotive had been built in 1930 and was given the somewhat anonymous name of No. 7 and had a wheel arrangement of 2-4-0. 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 - a name which was soon changed to Elizabeth.

This 4-4-4 diesel powered locomotive ran until 1960.

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 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. Around the same time a brand new locomotive was introduced and like Elizabeth it was shaped like a steam engine and named Prince Charles, continuing the royal theme. …

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