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Tyne and Wear HER(3133): Lambton Railway, Houghton Branch - Details

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Lambton Railway, Houghton Branch




Railway Transport Site


Early Modern


Documentary Evidence

In 1812, John Nesham built a new six miles long iron-railway to carry coal from his Newbottle Colliery, across East Herrington and to three coal spouts emptying directly into collier brigs at Galleys Gill in Sunderland, avoiding transhipment on to keels. Initially operated solely with horses, in 1814, the railway was the scene of experimentation with locomotive engines. William Brunton’s Iron Horse was used to pull coal on a gradient between the Margaret Pit and West Herrington. In 1815, the boiler of the locomotive exploded, killing 16 people and seriously injuring 40; the world’s first major railway disaster. By 1819, engineered inclined-planes (four) and stationary engines (three) were the main motive power, on the line, propelling rope-hauled coal waggons. Nesham sold the concern in 1822 to John Lambton, from which time it was known as the Lambton Railway. From 1833 it was called the Earl of Durham’s Railway. The early form of the railway is shown in detail on a map of 1817 held at Sunderland Museum. This branch went from Houghton Colliery, (HER 3166), to the Lambton Railway main line (HER 2833).




<< HER 3133 >> 1st edition Ordnance Survey Map, c.1855, 6 inch scale, Durham, 13 C.E. Mountford, 1970, The Development of Colliery Railways in Co. Durham, p.5; Alan Williams Archaeology, 2013, Waggonways to the South Bank of the River Tyne and to the River Wear; Turnbull, L, 2012, Railways Before George Stephenson (entry 88A) p77-79, 163 and 172; Map of Sunderland, 1817 (Sunderland Museum 2011:3209); Hair, T.H, 1844, Views of the Collieries p41

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