Park saw last locomotive
As my partner and I did the weekly ParkRun at Silksworth on Saturday, September 9, we remembered that 50 years ago the site played a part in the curtain call for an important part of North East life – the last use of steam locomotives by British Railway in the North East.
Sunderland was one of the very last locomotive sheds to use steam in the North East, and September 9, 1967, the last steam locomotive used by the shed was Class J27 65894.
In the last week, a regular steam turn was still collecting coal from Silksworth Colliery, with this locomotive adorned by enthusiasts with a large blue star on its smoke box to mark the end of steam use in the North East.
The NCB continued to use steam locomotives for a few more years, but the ‘public’ railways that started with the Stockton and Darlington over 140 years earlier dispensed with steam from that date.
The Silksworth Sports Centre site has two former railway lines running to it, both now paths, and the Park Run uses one of them while the colliery one was at a higher level that the Park Run just about reaches.
Fortunately, it wasn’t the end for two of the steam locomotives in use on that last day.
The 65894 itself and the larger Q6 63395 were both saved by the North East Locomotive Preservation Group and their members are currently repairing both locomotives with an imminent return to steam on the cards for both. Steven Hogg