Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Bowes Bridge

I am  unsure of the origin of the name Bowes's Bridge.   There is no map showing a bridge nor a feature which needed bridging, but it lies between Sunniside & Marley Hill.

Bowes Bridge from an 1895 OS 25" map 
(reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland)

From 1725 in wooden waggonway times, horses and chaldrons passed on their way north to the Tyne.   In the 1830s, the Brandling Junction Railway modernized the railway with a stationary winding engine at Bowes Bridge for the incline to the south; horses were still used on more level sections.   From 1881 the Tanfield Branch of the NER used steel rails & steam locomotives on more level sections.   The stationary engine hauler house at Bowes Bridge was converted into a locomotive shed.   (The cylinder of the Bowes Bridge engine replaced that at Weatherhill stationary engine, which is preserved at the National Railway Museum in York.)


Converted to a locomotive shed, but retaining the winding house chimney
(photo Armstrong Trust)

From late Victorian times until 1962 (when pit closures led to the closure of the Tanfield Branch and Bowes Bridge shed) much of the traffic on the flatter sections of the line was handled by NER class U (termed N10 by the LNER & BR) 0-6-2T locomotives.


N10 locos in Bowes Bridge shed prior to the fire during WW2 in which it burnt down
(photo Armstrong Trust)
Bowes Bridge turntable in the early 1950s, with the burned out shed in the background
(photo Armstrong Trust)

The Tanfield branch was very steep north of Bowes Bridge from Streetgate down to Redheugh, and south of Bowes Bridge down to Tanfield.   The turntable at Bowes Bridge allowed locos to be turned so that fireboxes were on the downhill side, to reduce wear & tear & the likelihood of major damage.


Bowes Bridge turntable & modern shed in 1961, a year before closure
(photo Alan Thompson / Armstrong Trust)
Two N10s at Bowes Bridge coaling stage in the 1950s
(photo Armstrong Trust)

Bowes Bridge turntable pit & coaling stage can be seen from trains on the Tanfield Railway as they pass between Andrews House & Sunniside.   


Housing at Fenhouse Row at Bowes Bridge was provided in the 1830s for workers at Marley Hill colliery & associated works.   It was extremely basic, became known as "The Hole", & was demolished during the 1930s.

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