Opened in 1834, the Stanhope & Tyne Railroad Company's line ran from the limestone district of Weardale, via the collieries of north-west Durham to the mouth of the River Tyne at South Shields. This extraordinary railway used horses, steam locomotives, stationary engines and gravity-worked inclines to transport lime, limestone and coal. The company soon found itself in financial trouble, and its downfall almost bankrupted Robert Stephenson, who was consulting engineer for the company. Change of ownership saw the line become profitable, one half being run by the newly formed Pontop & South Shields Railway Company, the other by the Stockton & Darlington Railway Company, with the two halves later coming under the ownership of the North Eastern Railway and later the London & North Eastern Railway and then British Railways. The story of this remarkable line and its varied ways of working are told here, accompanied by images of the route, the locomotives, equipment and men who ran it.
The North Eastern Railway underwent extreme change after the outbreak of war in August 1914. Within months, the company raised its own battalion of men and was the only railway company to do so. The NER also set to work adapting to the changes and requirements the war would bring. Not only would there be a drop in regular passenger traffic levels and increase in freight, transporting both war material and troops, but the workshops formerly used to build locomotives were turned over to making weapons of war. In December 1914, the railway came under attack from the Imperial German Navy, causing damage to the NER's infrastructure and killing several of its men. As the war went on, locomotives and rolling stock were sent to France to help with the enormous logistics required for operations on the Western Front. The planned opening of an electrified railway line for freight went ahead with a brand new fleet of powerful electric locomotives, adding to the company's portfolio of electrification with the electrified Tyneside passenger line and Newcastle Quayside.N ER land was used to build an enormous munitions factory at Darlington and the unprecedented use of women in the work place meant traditionally male-only roles were increasingly seeing women take over and freeing men for military service.Overseas, men of the NER that joined the forces served with honour, but many were not to come home. The North Eastern Railway in the First World War tells the story of one railway's war, of how it continued to operate and adapt, and the men and women who served with the company or left to fight for the country's freedom.
In 1915, the biggest plane yet seen in Britain took flight, a twin-engine monster with a 100-foot wingspan. Handley Page bombers attacked German cities, disrupting the enemy's industry and crippling its war effort. The men that flew in the 'Bloody Paralysers' were the forerunners of Bomber Command in World War 2 and their story is told in their own words.
The North Eastern Railway in the First World War, like all of the British Railways, underwent a lot of changes, and not just from the inevitable loss of male staff who joined the Army and Navy. Just four months from the outbreak of war, on 16 December 1914, the North Eastern Railway came under attack from the Imperial German Navy during the Bombardment of Whitby, Scarborough and Hartlepool, resulting in damage to North Eastern Railway buildings, track and rolling stock, and resulting in the deaths of two members of staff. 18,339 members of staff, 34% of the workforce, were released for military service - 2,236 of those men died during the war, and 300 received military decorations. There was even a North Eastern Railway Pals Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. Changes weren't just to affect the men of the North Eastern Railway - at the outbreak of war the Railway employed 1,470 women and girls, by the end of the war it employed 7,885, not including an additional 1,000 temporarily employed at the Darlington National Projectile Factory built and ran by the NER. This book tells the story of the men, women and machines of the North Eastern Railway during the Great War.