One interesting element of the Ashington Coal Company network was its early narrow gauge line to Pegswood, which operated what is sometimes referred to as a ‘paddy train’ or ‘paddy mail’, a train for workmen to and from home to work. From a PDF document of lost private and minor railways Ashington Coal Company (PDF document, entry 202), and on the Disused Stations – Hirst Platform, it can be seen that a 2ft gauge railway operated between Hirst Station (just to the North of Ashington station) and Pegswood between about 1880 and 1895, before being abandoned in favour of a standard gauge link.
Trains on this line were operated by a small 0-4-2 tank engine called ‘Bothal’, hauling sideways seated carriages, a photo of the train displayed on the Disused Stations – Hirst link.
One suggestion made to the ABTRA Committee some time ago was to potentially recreate a resemblance of this ‘Pegswood Paddy’. Initially this focussed on temporary track laid as a short term attraction; something inspired greatly by the North Yorkshire Moors Railways’ Autumn Welsh Gala in Autumn 2016. This event featured the Welsh slate mine loco ‘Britomart’ running through the foot tunnel to Grosmont Depot, please click the link for more info: Britomart – Autumn Welsh Gala NYMR 2016.
Although we have not yet discussed a proposition formally, the existing 2ft gauge railway at Woodhorn Museum, the Woodhorn Narrow Gauge Railway might offer a great opportunity to fulfil multiple aims.
Firstly, when at the NYMR, Britomart and its train of small wooden carriages with outward facing seating looked outwardly quite similar to the Pegswood narrow gauge train of the pre-1900 period. Showing that recreating something of the scene may be possible with existing stock.
Secondly. our intention of using the Butterwell Branch for standard gauge trains has the disadvantage that it lacks a large car parking area nearby. While plans are in hand to alleviate this issue, one idea is to utilise the narrow gauge as a link between the museum with its own car parking and other facilities with our own Butterwell Project.
One option would be an extension of about 1&1/2 to 2 miles from its present Lakeside/Woodhorn Grange terminus towards our proposed site at New Moor. This would allow out passengers to park at Woodhorn or at the Lakeside to access standard gauge trains at New Moor. This proposal has advantages in the short term that the existing stock on the Woodhorn Railway could be utilised, reducing initial outlay, as well as giving visitors an enhanced trip and the opportunity in time of a ‘joint ticket’. Longer term, extra stock may need purchasing, or maybe it might just prove possible to recreate something of the ‘Pegswood Paddy’, with a recreation of Bothal and its train?
This, we believe would be mutually beneficial to not only ourselves and the Woodhorn Narrow Gauge Railway, but also for the museum at Woodhorn (Woodhorn Museum website), and of course the local businesses surrounding the project. With potential of increased visitor numbers greater use made of the facilities already available.
As ever, please let us know what you think and take a look around our blog/website to find out more about us!