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Decorated Chaldrons Are Here - We Reveal Packs A - D

There were a few surprised faces when we launched our Chaldron waggons as the genesis of our "Powering Britain" series last month, as we opened our range to a whole new era of operation and modellers.

Naturally, doing these wagons "The Accurascale Way" means creating several different body, brake and wheel variations to offer a comprehensive coverage of these distinctive and rather cute little hoppers. Oh, and of course, our love for distinctive markings and extra attention to detail!

Decorated samples have now arrived for assessment, and over the next week we will reveal all decorated samples.

Each of our packs have been themed by colliery, or user, with each waggon depicted being based on photographic evidence and reference to colliery records to confirm the lettering styles, but what of the Collieries and users themselves? Here, we provide a brief outline for each operator, and where the depicted lettering style sits within the timeframe for that operator.

Today is packs A- D, so let's get started!

Pack A: North Eastern Railway P1 style Chaldrons, circa 1890

On its formation in 1854, the North Eastern Railway inherited a fleet of ‘Chaldron’ waggons from the constituent companies that numbered somewhere in the region of 15,000 vehicles, with the major influx coming from the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway, who supplied around a third of the fleet.

When the Stockton & Darlington Railway was absorbed into the NER in 1863, creating the ‘Darlington Section’, a further fleet of Chaldrons were added to the fleet. By June 1867, the survey of NER waggons recorded a total of 19,587 Chaldrons, with an additional 14,557 being under the ownership of the ‘Darlington Section’, giving a combined figure of 34,144 waggons.

From 1858, the NER had committed to reducing its fleet of Chaldrons in favour of 8t waggons, so the influx of more Chaldrons was a hindrance to the NER’s plans and an active policy of either scrapping, or selling on to internal users such as collieries ensued. By 1880, the total had been reduced to 9181 vehicles and by 1904, barely 1000 remained on the NER’s books.

The NER legend is taken from photographs of wagons at West Hartlepool and Percy Main, dating from around 1890 and features the distinctive pale area caused by the constant chalking and rubbing out of waggon information by the weighbridge checkers, as clips and labels were not in use during this period on these vehicles.

Pack B: Hetton Colliery Railway - ex-NER P1 style Chaldrons in pre-1911 lettering.

Built by George Stephenson, Hetton Colliery Railway celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2022, being the world’s first complete railway system that utilised just steam power.

The Hetton Coal Company began sinking the first colliery in December 1820, with work being completed during the summer of 1822 and a railway was therefore needed to carry the coal to the River Wear at Sunderland, for onward shipment to London, the main market.

Using only steam and gravity power throughout the eight mile length of the line, it was opened on the 18th November 1822 and used two of George Stephenson’s steam locomotives to haul the Chaldrons for the first 1½ miles, before two steam stationary engines took up the strain, hauling waggons to the line’s summit at Warden Law, over 600ft above sea level.

Four gravity-worked rope inclines then took the waggons down to North Moor near Silksworth, from where Stephenson’s steam locomotives took them down to the Staithes on the River Wear for shipment.

In 1911 the HCC was absorbed into Lambton Collieries, being renamed L&H Collieries before becoming the Lambton, Hetton and Joicey Colliery in 1923 and just over 1800 Chaldrons were in operation over the Hetton system at this point, albeit that some were heavily modified.

The fleet lasted in operation well into the 1930s, with some waggons lingering on into nationalisation of the coal industry at the beginning of 1947. The HC legend was superseded in 1911 by L&H, then again in 1923 by the LH&JC legend.

Pack C: Seaton Burn Coal Co. - Two ex-NER P1 style Chaldrons and an S&DR style Chaldron, circa 1902.

One of the smaller coal companies, but with an extensive railway system that extended to the Staithes on the River Tyne at Howden near Percy Main, and at Wallsend. Sunk in 1838 and in operation by 1841, the Seaton Burn Coal Colliery was sold to C. Palmer & Co. in 1850 and then purchased by the Seaton Burn Coal Company in May 1899.

The line to Percy Main was abandoned post-WW1, but Chaldrons continued to be worked over the line to Wallsend until it to was closed in 1942, Seaton Burn Coal Co. having been absorbed into Hartley Main Collieries in 1938.

Brenkley Drift was the last producing element of this long worked site and was latterly the smallest National Coal Board pit in Northumberland, but was closed on August 17, 1965.

In operation, the S.B.C. Co Ltd legend was carried between
1899 and closure in 1942, the waggons never being noted with a "Hartley Main Colliery" legend.

Pack D: Pontop & Jarrow Railway - Two ex-NER P1 style Chaldrons and an S&DR style Chaldron in pre-1932 lettering, circa 1910.

The Pontop & Jarrow Railway was a sinuous development of separate colliery lines stretching from Dipton Colliery in the west, to Jarrow on the southern bank of the River Tyne and which eventually became the Bowes Railway; of which the surviving 1½ mile section between Black Fell and Springwell is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the world’s only operational preserved standard gauge cable railway system.

The line opened on January 17, 1826 using inclines and horses until steam locomotives were delivered in April 1826 and the railway was gradually extended over the years; to Kibblesworth in 1842, Marley Hill in 1853 and Dipton in 1855, the length of the line increasing to 15 miles.

At this point the railway was named the Pontop & Jarrow Railway and continued to operate using the same methods of six inclines, (two gravity worked and four powered inclines) and two locomotive worked sections at either end of the railway. In 1932, in honour of the Bowes-Lyons family, the railway was renamed as the Bowes Railway.

The P&JR was one of the first lines in the North-East coalfield to withdraw its Chaldrons, favouring the new 10t waggons from 1887 onwards and vast quantities of Chaldrons were disposed of in 1911, being scrapped by burning (this meant that the iron work could be salvaged for scrap).

Those Chaldrons that survived the cull continued in limited use working from the line’s western collier ies to Marley Hill Coke Works, many having their PJR legend replaced by an ‘MH’.

Just click here if you wish to pre-order any of our Chaldron packs, just £44.99 per triple pack with 10% off when you order two packs or more!


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