Carrying Coals to Dunston
Carrying coals to Newcastle has long been proverbially regarded as a pointless exercise, but nevertheless virtually all the coal which came from Newcastle and Tyneside had to be carried to the River Tyne itself before it could be exported. The waggonways and railways which carried the coal to the shipping ports on the river were an essential link in the transport of coal from the collieries to London, the main market for Tyne coal.
Dunston-on-Tyne, until recently a major port on the river, has a continuous record of railway activity, largely for the transport of coal, for more than 350 years. The history of the railways of Dunston and the Wickham/Pontop/Tanfield region of Co. Durham illustrates the way in which the railway fostered and maintained the growth of industry and trade throughout Victorian times and until the mid-20th century when coal and steam were the primary source of energy.
The coal trade, in developing the railway to overcome its local transport problems, produced a transport system which was itself to become a major industry and change the social, commercial and industrial life of the world. The story concludes with a look at preservation at the Tanfield Railway and Beamish North of England Open Air Museum
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