A selection of new Seaham Harbour images...

A selection of new Seaham Harbour images…

I regularly search online for negatives or prints relating to the transport collections at Beamish. Seaham Harbour is a particular favourite and over the years the search has netted dozens of images, many of which have appeared on the blog.

I usually pass on the negatives and transparencies to the photo archive, who scan them and send me a copy to use here, and then file the originals in the cold store, retaining the digital copies to add to the database in due course. Without this resource, the latest images have either been scanned on a photocopier, or are iPhone photographs taken against a white screen then tidied up as best I can on the desktop – not ideal and obviously they will all be re-scanned in due course. But in the interests of keeping the content on here flowing, here are some recent images, purchased as either unique prints or negatives. All of them are Seaham related…

This is a 1947 view of No.18, apparently out of steam and parked above the docks in the sidings used for locomotive stabling and maintenance (there was never really a locomotive running shed at Seaham). Of interest is the barely visible lining on the bunker sides and saddle tank, as well as details of the inside of the cab backsheet – something we really lacked when we were rebuilding No.18 ten years ago. The loco had been in this form for around 11 years at the time of the photo being taken, following its rebuild from the earlier well-tank form that it was built as. A search of the articles section of this blog will take the reader to some articles (including photographs) charting No.18’s history at Seaham and its later preservation life at Beamish.
A view dating from the late 1940s, perhaps early 1950s, showing No.18 in the same yard as the previous view. Note the cab, from Milo or Clio, in the foreground. Both of these views have been taken on fairly crude cameras, perhaps box brownies, as setting the exposure and creating the composition has been troubling for the photographers. However, they have a certain charm and also add to the 1936 to 1960 rebuild selection of images that are of particularly interesting to us given that this is the condition that No.18 has been restored to in order to retain as much original material as possible within it.

Clio’s cab survives in the Stephenson Railway Museum, North Tyneside. It has been incorporated into a display showing part of a locomotive firebox, with the original finish being conserved as far as is possible. Clio, though not this cab, was built at Gateshead works in 1875 by the North Eastern Railway as one of a batch of their 120 class 0-6-0 tender locomotives. It was later fitted with the cab from Ajax (an 1867-built Blyth & Tyne Railway, later North Eastern Railway 0-6-0 dismantled at Seaham in 1926) showing how much rebuilding and interchanging of parts took place at Seaham when creating locomotives for the Londonderry Seaham and Sunderland Railway and its colliery railway network (which teamed its coal in both Seaham and Sunderland). Clio was out of use by 1943 and dismantled by June 1953 – the cab surviving in the yard for reasons unknown, but eventually enabling it to be preserved and placed on display as part of the National Railway Museum Collection, from whom it is on loan. I took these photos in 2005 and I believe the cab is still on display at the museum.

This view, taken from a negative, has turned out reasonably well. It shows No.18 in the mid 1960s complete with cab backsheet and the strangely painted number plate. It latterly carried only one plate, the other being sold by some of the crew to aid a number of social activities! Today replica plates are carried on No.18 (and which can be modified to suit No.17, and, indeed, any other Londonderry/Seaham loco that carried oval plates should anyone have need of them!). Note the NCB hopper wagons in the background – somewhat larger than the wooden chaldron waggons with which No.18 is more usually associated.
Pushing the powers of ad-hoc scanning now – two views taken in 1962 from slide-mounted black & white positives (rather than negatives) and showing No.18 at the base of the Dogger-Bank – the 1:11 gradient line that linked the harbour-level sidings with the lines at staithe height above. This fearsome gradient required a standing start acceleration from a short head-shunt, up the gradient and onto the level lines that ran north-south alongside the docks and coastline. The west-east lines arrived via inclines, bringing coal from the collieries inland of Seaham and joining the coal from those collieries to the north and south for teaming into ships from the elevated staithes of the South Dock.
The 1:11 gradient is seen on the left in this view, with No.18 pottering around underneath the staithes with one of the 1860s/70s 4-Ton chaldron waggons. These were in regular use for collecting coal spilled during discharge into ships, as well as for venturing (with No.16, 17 and 18) onto the beaches north of Seaham to collect shingle for use in the concrete plant on the quayside, where the blocks for reinforcing the harbour defences were cast. The tight network of quayside sidings were only really suited to the small steam locomotives and venerable timber waggons, whence their survival in operation so late in the day at Seaham.
This view of No.17 was taken on the 31st March 1961 by P. Eckersley. Again this is a photo of the negative taken against my laptop screen then reversed and tidied up a bit. It shows the locomotive flanked by chaldron waggons, and sat adjacent to a steam crane (note its vertical boiler projecting above the first waggon).

Read more about No.17 here:

Some further Seaham material that might be of interest can be found here: http://www.nigeltout.com/html/seaham-1980s.html and here: