Latest News

Friends Visit To The Tanfield Railway

Feb 19 2016 News >> Latest News

Tanfield RailwayOn a sunny but somewhat chilly day in November a group of FODMs members took to the hills above Gateshead.  The purpose of this grand adventure was to visit the Tanfield Railway and find out how they operate and how they recruit new members.

We met Malcolm Sunter in the car park and after the usual formalities and a bit of hand rubbing (to get warm) headed down to the railway sheds and headquarters. Malcolm is a friend of FODMs member John Chaney and the visit had been arranged between them. Unfortunately John was not able to attend on the day. 

At the railway sheds we were taken into the “mess room “ to meet the Tanfield team. Aided by tea and biscuits we had a really good exchange of information and advice.  The Tanfield is a volunteer run railway that since it was set up in the 1970s has achieved some remarkable things. It is the oldest operating steam railway line in the world. The original tracks were laid in 1725 to move coal from the pits in the County Durham hills to the River Tyne for trans-shipment. To date the Tanfield Railway volunteers have rebuilt engine sheds, built a new carriage shed and repaired a wide range of industrial locomotives.  This is in addition to operating a service for 80 days per year.

The Tanfield volunteers cover all ages and both sexes. The mix of people brings a wide range of skills and knowledge to the railway and it is this that creates a vibrant and active organisation.  Their Chairman John Lennox told us that running the railway is an expensive activity.  Locomotive repairs alone can be as much as £60-70,000. Currently the Tanfield are looking at Heritage Lottery grants to help them in the next stages of their development. He also told us that the pure railway enthusiast is not their main audience and that they are actively seeking to attract more family visits. It is obviously working because the upcoming Santa Specials were sold out.

After the luxurious heat of the mess room we were taken on a tour of the ‘shed” site which is spread over quite an area. In addition to the locomotives we were also shown the workshops. It is easy to see why the Tanfield Railway needs heritage engineering skills but also how it can also develop those skills in the younger generation to help operate and maintain the railway in the future. The tour included a visit to the new carriage shed and much discussion about who remembered the famous “Marsden Rattler”.  As an incomer from Manchester I can only say that there was some obviously misspent youth that took place on said Rattler.

All in all it was a very enjoyable and inspiring visit which hopefully will lead to some more contact between FODMs and the Tanfield Railway.

(Pictured are Tanfield Trust Chairman Derek Smith meeting FODMs Chairman Ian Burdon)

Graham Bradshaw

Last changed: Feb 19 2016

Back

Events

  • Behind The Scenes Tour : Arcs & Sparks Tour

    Wed 1st Nov 2017 - 11:00 AMmore details

  • FODMs Quarterly Committee Meeting - Xmas Gathering

    Tue 5th Dec 2017 - 12:00 PMmore details

  • Behind The Scenes Tour : Arcs & Sparks Tour

    Wed 6th Dec 2017 - 11:00 AMmore details

Events Calendar

News

  • FODMs AGM Tuesday 27th June 12.00pm

    The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Discovery Museum will take place at 12-00 noon in the Turbinia Room (4th Floor) at the Discovery Museum

    read more
  • Energising Exhibits

    FODMs members currently run engines and carry out repairs and maintenance of exhibits and equipment within the museum.

    read more
  • FODMs Appeal for Volunteers

    We are a small group of retired, young at heart, enthusiastic individuals who use our collective engineering knowledge and experience providing support to Newcastle’s Discovery Museum.

    read more
  • 2017 Membership Renewal

    Note from The Secretary :

    read more
  • FODMs Spring Bulletin

    FODMs Spring Bulletin has been sent out to members - you can read it online here

    read more
  • Motor Cycles - Special Interest Group?

    Following the publication of my reminiscences last year on the motorcycling activities just around the corner from Discovery on Westgate Road

    read more
  • From Discovery's Reference Library "English Without Tears"

    The Reference library at Discovery contains some 14,000 artefacts, including engineering firms' brochures and publicity material, magazines, journals and books.

    read more
  • PROJECT : History of the Electricity Supply Industry in NE England

    The North East of England led the Country in the application of electricity to motive power in industry in the early years of the 20th Century.

    read more
  • Volunteers in Uniform

    Our members who help out in the Discovery Museum by repairing and cleaning exhibits, running the engines and taking our Arcs and Sparks tours now have a natty new polo shirt to wear whilst carrying out their activities.

    read more
  • Men And Sheds

    I have been asked by our chairman, Ian Burdon, to start a series of newsletter articles on this topic as an ongoing feature.

    read more
More News

Sign Up to our eNewsletter

Sign up on MailChimp