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North Sunderland Railway

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Attached Image: D10-On-Passenger-91.jpg Attached Image: 106 shunting.JPG Attached Image: 986 at Seahouses.jpg Attached Image: 1787 at Seahouses.jpg


North Sunderland Railway

The North Sunderland Railway was one of the many small lines opened in the 1890s after the passing of the light railway Act. Its terminus and headquarters was at Seahouses. The line travelled approximately five miles to Chathill where connection could be made with the NER main line. The only intermediate station was at North Sunderland which was a good half mile from Seahouses! The line was built on the cheap using corrugated iron for the buildings.

The NSR bought Bamburgh from the Manning Wardle Company on H.P. It had a history of failing and so a number of locomotives were hired from the big railways. These included the classes Y1, Y3, Y7, J79, J71 and even an ex Lancashire and Yorkshire ‘Pug’.
The NSR was a pioneer in diesel traction, borrowing a demonstration loco in 1933 from Armstrong Whitworth’s and later purchasing ‘The Lady Armstrong’ from the same company. The Lady Armstrong’s sister engine can be seen running today on the Tanfield Railway.
The line was constantly beset with financial problems (from day 1!) and despite escaping nationalisation, it finally closed in 1951.
‘Seahouses’ was conceived during a game of chess in the March of 1983. The thought had been lying around in the back of my head since 1978 when on a school trip, our bus had parked on what was the site of the old station. Seeds were sown and over the next few years maps and photographs were collected, research was carried out and plans were eventually drawn up. With co-conspirators John Elliot and Charlie Garnell plans were formulated for an E.M. Gauge layout. Word got out and before an inch of track was laid two invitations to exhibitions were offered and accepted. There is nothing like an imminent exhibition to focus one’s mind on the task in hand! The first show was at Sunderland in September followed by the November exhibition in Newcastle. The deadlines were met although the trestles were completed on site at the Sunderland venue! The layout continued to be seen on the exhibition circuit until its last showing at Darlington in 1997 after which it was retired.
The layout lived in my garage in Houghton gathering dust, cobwebs and cat’s hairs, as my daughter’s cat found it the ideal place to sleep!. On my retirement it moved with me to Grosmont in North Yorkshire where it gathered more cobwebs. Then in about 2011 I decided to see if it would still work. After cleaning the track I put one of the trusty Y7s on the track and to our amazement it worked!. My wife took some footage of the first train to leave Seahouses since 1997 and put it on Youtube! If you have seen it; that was in the layout’s unrestored state!
I worked with Dave Scott on the restoration of an old layout Stop Gap and talking to him as we worked it was decided to give Seahouses a makeover! The only damage to the infrastructure was to the buildings. That was the cat’s favourite spot! New buildings were made and the layout rewired to push button operation for the points instead of the electric probe method. The trackwork was still in good condition. That is until I dropped a log splitter on it damaging one of the points which had to be replaced. Improvements included backscenes which the layout had never possessed, and the layout has progressed using the latest methods. Judge for yourself whether we have captured the atmosphere of the original by comparing the model with the photographs of the original.

Scale / Gauge: EM
Era: 1932-51
Size: 14 ft X 1.5ft
Type: DC
Transport used: Hired Van cost. No fuel payment requested.
Previous Exhibitions: Expo EM London
Expo EM North (X2 Wakefield & Manchester}
Sunderland (X2)
Railex North
Perth Green (X2)
Cleveland MRC Redcas
Description: Buildings painted in post 1945 colours but operations based on the interesting loan period for locos from 1932 to closure.
Supported by video and slide show.
Layout Owner: Ray Stewart
Owner Contact Name: Ray Stewart
Owner contact email address: r_stewart050573@hotmail.com
Owner contact telephone: 01947895943
Forthcoming exhibitions booked: Newcastle November 11 and 12
Lincoln February 2018
Thirsk July 2018
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