27 thoughts on “A view of a steam passenger train, at Eaglescliffe

  1. I don’t know if there are any parts buried there, but the quarry that is frequently referred to in the posts above, and in other documents is Coatham Stob. It’s subsequently been grassed over, and renamed Coatham Woods. It’s on the right as you drive from Urlay Nook to Long Newton. If there are any aircraft parts buried, it’s very unlikely they would be buried on the old MoD site, as there were many buildings on that site. The network of roads visible on Google Earth of the area show that the buildings have long since been demolished, and nature slowly reclaiming the site. There are some strange looking mounds just at the end of Whitham Avenue, where the road hairpins away from the railway, but I believe that was a council tip for a while.

    Coatham Stob does have some claim to fame, and probably some aircraft parts too. In 1944 a Lancaster bomber headed for RAF Middleton St George and dived into the ground there, at high speed. I don’t think much was recovered, so there will be plenty of bits down there somewhere.

  2. Hi Guys I would like to say the old road from the MOD is still there its basically a grassed over track that leads to Coatham Stob the quarry is still there with a pond added to it. It has a barbed wire fence going round it with a sign saying “keep out” with lots of trees. The whole area is next to Coatham woods, a council owned area for dog walking.

  3. I have posted on this subject before. To my knowledge, while working at the Nuffield plant for various periods over three years from 1945 to 48, no Merlin’s went into the pits. There were more than three places that scrap was dumped in quarries and clay-pits then covered over. People forget that every particle of exotic metal used in this country was imported. They also forget that the Americans cut off all aid when the war finished and it did not start sending aid, including metals, until the Marshall Plan for Europe started. All metals became very precious so even the smallest scraps were recovered. The rows of planes were fantastic to a 16 year old who had grown during wartime and I would clamber in among them sitting in complete cockpits of new planes that were surplus, mainly American although there were every type you could imagine including German. My third point is detuned Merlin Engines the Meteor were being used in Armoured and recovery or transport vehicles in the forces. The air force were still using wartime planes with Merlin engines into the 1950’s so why would they throw good engines into quarries or clay-holes when they were needed. I watched men and women with cutters and windy tools knock the bolts from cylinder heads and strip all the parts of the engines into boxes which would be sorted into the various metals. Trainloads of metals, apart from the aluminium, went off to smelting mills, the aluminium being smelted at the Nuffield plant into ingots and then transported elsewhere. When the Americans left to go to fight the Pacific war, which was still going on after VE day, the material they left was sent to Nuffields to be scrapped. This included Allison engines which to most people looked like the Merlin but did not compare. The Merlin had a built-in Supercharger which gave it the power where as the Allison did not, you had to bolt a supercharger on to the Allison and it did not work as well. As to airframes, not all were made of Aluminium, many were still made of wood for which there was no use. The Mosquito was made almost entirely of wood, some of it at our local Hills Factory among others. Anything buried at Coatham Stob had tons of ICI waste poured on top of it, my father drove truckloads of stuff there for years and tipped in that quarry. It amazes me that these urban myths still abound. I later worked with a chap who was at the Nuffield plant from demob from the forces until a lot of them were finished in the 50’s, he told me they recovered any scrap of value and there was plenty of value in an engine. I can only say what I saw and in the time I worked in and out of the place did not see Merlin’s which I came to know very well as the Meteor in the forces.

  4. How very bizarre – I have just been to friends house for a coffee and we were chatting about old cars (I’m thinking about doing one up as a hobby) and he talked about the number of jeeps brought into the country after WWII. He then told me about his uncle who worked at Urlay Nook during the war who told him stories of dumping considerable amounts of army spares into pits – about 50-60 foot underground. I decided to google it and here we are…

  5. The interesting information regarding air frames being dumped in a quarry. Was described to me, by Bruce Day of Ulay Nook. He showed me photographs of de-skinned air frames being
    dumped into a big ‘hole’ in the ground. The topography of the surounding area, such as buildings and chimneys had survived the passage of time making the identification of the ‘Site’ recognisable. The old quarry had been used as landfill for county garbage since the time of deposition of aircraft parts. In 1986 or there abouts, Bruce and his backing associates began excavations to recover the ‘Magnesium’ which he was convinced still lay about 80 feet below the top surface of the land fill. Magnesium castings etc used extensively in air frame construction had very little scrap value at the time it was dumped, as there was little use for it.
    He used a very large earth moving machine to clear a path down to the area estimated to contain the scrap Magnesium.
    Bruce had researched this subject very thoroughly, the excavations took many weeks.
    He could gauge the depth of excavation by the dates of, old newspapers which were still legible taken from within this 20th century midden. I saw one dated 1952 he knew he was getting close to pay dirt. One day he showed me some corroded aircraft cockpit instruments proving he was in the vicinity.
    He never did find any magnesium. He was either beaten to the bonanza by several decades, or the stuff simply oxidised away, possibly by fire which was always likely at such a site, they could burn for months deep within such material forming the landfill.

  6. I would love to hear from you Liam Booth and Craig Cullinam. I have lots more info but this website is not the forum for it. The Picture Stockton Team can provide my contact details.

  7. I think it was Craig Cullinan who mentioned Quarry Wood near Preston Hall; I walked up to the quarry earlier this year to see it for myself as I suspect that it may date to around 1825 when both the Stockton and Darlington Railway and Preston Hall were built. The track for the S&D consisted of stone blocks to support the rails (no sleepers as we now know them), did they come from this quarry? Looking at old maps shows evidence of a track curving round to the trees alongside the Yarm Road (A135) which may have been a rail way from the S&D to the quarry. The route of the S&D was on the Preston Hall side of the Yarm Road and sections of it can still be determined on a map or better on “Google Earth”. If you start at Urlay Nook, the present line from Darlington follows the S&D up to this point but then deviates to the north to Eaglescliffe station. The S&D carried on towards and across where the A135 now is and there is a road along this route and a line of trees as evidence. It then turned north to run alongside the Yarm Road and can be seen in several places as a line of trees. The path through the trees next to the Preston Hall grounds is the old trackbed but has been obliterated further on by Preston Farm industrial estate and the A66. However the S&D curve can be seen next to the A135 bridge over the existing line to Bowesfield and Thornaby.

  8. I too am fascinated by the thought that there may be brand new Merlin engines buried at Urlay Nook. There is a very good map site at “durham dot gov dot uk” which shows clearly the quarries in the area on the 1951 map. On the website select maps and then click on ‘Launch the GIS now’. You can select the area that you want to view then at the bottom left you can select historic maps which then shows a selection of dated maps to view. The road mentioned above, to Coultham Stob Quarry appears on the 1951 map just to the North of the site. Unfortunately the earlier wartime map has a section missing. Also clearly shown are the railway sidings on the Nuffield site.

  9. The old quarry at Preston Hall has not been filled in & can still be visited as part of the Preston Park nature trail -there is a small pond at the bottom of the quarry which can be accessed by pathways. I doubt whether this is the site of any dump as the size of the present excavation is similar to what is shown on an 1889 map of the area, more likely it is the MOD site itself – unfortunately that”s still a fairly secure site.

  10. Thanks David for the reply. Since I posted that post, I have found more information. I believe there is around 3 Quarries so far that are situated around the old MOD site. We have one to the north (about 0.5miles) which was called Coultham Stob Quarry. Then to the North East which was Witham Hall Quarry, and the one which I can”t find much about was the Preston hall Quarry Wood, which is a victorian quarry, now a nature reserve. I have noticed that there was a road originally linked from Ulay Nook Road directly to Coultham Stob (I have a map from 1850″s that show this road), however, I believe this was lost when the MOD bought the land, therefore the road was lost. The MOD may have used this road though as a back entrance to the Coultham Stob Quarry. To the right of Coulby stob quarry, was Eaglescliffe Brick works, and across Durham Lane was then Witham Hall Quarry. Whether all these were linked I dont know. I have spoken to my aunt who worked at the MOD around 1989, and she says she was never “officially” told but rumour had it that the parts were buried at the back of the MOD, this is where the road originally was heading towards coultham Stob Quarry. If you were to look at the rear of allens west on a map today, you can see a sort of grid pattern of concrete roads as though buildings were originally here. Apparently this is where the parts are supposed to buried. Its rather hard to describe. the best way I can describe where it is, would be to take Long Newton Lane from Urlay Nook, and if you look right of this road, you will see a serious of crossroads. These are right next to the railway too, which means access to this location would be very easy by train. More information would be a great help.

  11. The location of Witham Hall (and presumably the quarry) is on the O.S. Landranger map 93 (Middlesbrough) grid reference 419157. If you find this location on Google earth, I believe that the path which curves away from the railway (not the first little “s”bend) was the line of the siding, and I think I have seen a photograph of these sidings somewhere. Please note that the bridge which gave access to this path (mentioned by Martyn Russell earlier), no longer exists.

  12. The postings about the aircraft dump are both revealing and fascinating, and I hope they continue, and reveal more information. However, if I could revert for a moment to the original subject of the photograph; I think this is a North Eastern Railway class “M” or “M1” express passenger engine in its later days, possibly during WW1 judging by it”s unloved condition.

  13. This is a very interesting thread. I have lived in Eaglescliffe all my life and never knew anything like this existed. I have done some research into the MOD area and by the sounds, Martyn, the location where you were standing when you were a boy looking through the fence, I believe stood a Witham Hall which was demolished around 1974. If so, the house would have still be stood that day. My friend and I, Liam who has also added a thread, have done a little bit of research i.e using google, and using maps, and we believe the quarry that many people are discussing, was where Preston Park have a nature reserve now. Could this be the quarry that everyone is talking about regarding the missing engines? The quarry is now dense with trees and hedgerow, and at the bottom of this “quarry” is a pond, although we knew it when we were kids as the swamp. As a teenager I would ride across to this site on my bike and go up and down the “dippers”. The other question would be, if the recycling unit was just next to Allens West, it would be a long trek from the factory to this quarry. Would they have had to pass the brickworks at Eaglescliffe to then travel over the bridge at the end of Whitham Avenue, over yarm road into Quarry Road, into the quarry itself just to bury these engines? Could I be missing a different quarry altogether? Could these aircraft parts be buried actually on the site of Nuffields itself? Any information would be useful?

  14. I have been looking on google maps for the quarry. I still cannot make out where it is? Can anyone help? This is a very interesting thread!!!

  15. Re the Nuffield No2 M,P,R,D. URLAY NOOK SITE I worked there segregating materials such as Aluminium steel brass copper plastic rubber etc on the dumps wich were sent there by rail . Aluminium parts of Planes were loaded on to trucks and set to the transit sheds to be melted down into Ingots each set was stamped and recorded and were then sent to the Ingot compound and stacked in rows to about 20feet high. All the segregated materials were put in the respected skips and stockpiled ready to be sold to different Company”s. I never saw any crates with new engines sent to the Quarry, the crates were broken open and the contents worked on by the burners cutting the various parts such as steel etc and put into the skips. Not every thing that arrived on the site could be used again, there was a lot of rubbish wich was sent to the qaurry in wagons and dumped there, When the area was cleared of every thing, a lot of the workers were finished. I was asked if I wanted to stay on and work in the Compound loading the Ingots on to wagons that different companies were buying. I left when the Admirality took over the buildings. There was strict Security Guards with dogs based at the gates, these Guards were allowed to stop any car or person to search them before they left the site. Some workers did manage to leave with small items on them as the guards couldn”t pull every one in to be searched. Even wagons were inspected before leaving couldn”t be of much use after all this time .

  16. As a first visitor to the site I am fascinated that this site at Urlay Nook is so close to home.I have always been a keen follower of preserved Merlins and the examples in the North of England in particular. I recently spoke with the lads from Carlisle and Bolton and the conversation centered around these alledged sites around the country. Indeed my father worked on Merlins towards the end of the war and told me many years ago about spares and engines being bulldozed into the ground at various locations where he was stationed. The point now is surely to be able to recover in a controlled manner those which are readily accessible as there is surely no political motive to prevent it,just red tape from the Ministry of Defence.It just seems ridiculous that crates of these wonderful pieces of machinery which are as much our heritage as other worthy causes are lying buried and unaccessible for want of a change in attitude. So what is the latest position on some of these sites which must be well known and documented?

  17. The airplane parts are all still buried at Urlay Nook. The estimated value is right multiplied by about £1M. There is also early/prototype radar equipment buried somewhere on the site, not neccesarily with the aircraft parts. The “powers-that-be” do not want any of this material exhumed thus it remains in the ground. At least one consortium has attempted to obtain the “mining” rights and been turned down.

  18. Urly Nook –  Just a bit of background re my interest in the Nuffield A/c Reclamation site A relative was sent to Ropner Convalescent home, in Middleton-one- Row, in 1943, and with my dad I visited him on a number of occasions Keen on aviation, as all boys were at that time, the site alongside the rail-line was fascinating There was at least three rail-lines about 1/4 mile long of wrecked aircraft on low-load wagons and being a “spotter” I recognised Lancaster, Fortress Liberator aircraft, also Ju 88 and Heinkel 111, plus dozens of shattered fighter wings and fuselages. The reason I mentioned in a previous site was a aviation “Gold Mine’, was in the last 20 years, restoration of WW II aircraft is now a world-wide industry, with a serviceable R Merlin fetching up to one hundred thousand pounds at auction, a R 12 cylinder cam-shaft, still wrapped in its protective wax sold for over 500 pound So what did happen at Urly Nook back in 1945-1947.

  19. It Appears to be a small world, as those of you who have an interest in the Nuffield /MOD at Urlay Nook will know. I have been looking for pictures, and info on the recycling of Aircraft. I am doing a reserch paper on the History of Alloy in the modern world. And it happens that the Urlay Nook Nuffield plant, in and after WW2 was one of two Aircraft and war serplus. Recicaling Depts . After all my efforts to research this Establishment using written and photographic evidence (Of which I can find very Little), I heard today that my Grandfather worked there dismantling aircraft. He traveled from Guisbrough to Urlay Nook each day.? Unfortunatly he has died and yet again reached a dead end.

  20. Urlay Nook: My mother worked at “Nuffields”s during the war. It was, I believe, an airplane part distribution centre. (World War II that is). There are a large amount of wrecked planes and spare parts buried on this site. Bruce Day and possibly some associates attempted to obtain the rights to excavate the site but were refused. I think possibly trees were planted on the site. I have heard that Mr Day has in his possession photographs of the site taken when the stuff was being buried. Mr Day was attempting to recover the alloy.

  21. Re Nuffield Aircraft Disposal Plant , Urly-Nook In the January 2007 issue of “Aeroplane” is the following ” Three thick files have just been released from the National Archives and a Dr John Malin states, his late father “On the merger of Ministry of Aircraft Production with the Ministry of Supply 1946 was given the task of disposing of hundereds of tons of spares, among them hundreds of brand-new R R “Merlin” engines ,still in their crates down redundant mine-shafts and quarries as it was Goverment policy not to hold back aviation and engine, development and manufacture, in the U.K. Is there anbody out there who worked on this site 1946-1948 and can give info on this possible Urly-Nook “Aviation-Gold-Mine” ??

  22. Hi Mike I to have been looking for info on the scrap planes of Urlay Nook. I have seen MOD pics showing the clay hole as it was in the early 40s it is situated on the left as you go over the bridge at the end of Whitham Avenue (there used to be an old Hall called Witham Hall). I believe there are still archive pics of the place. Anyway in the 1940s during and just after WW2 if you went over the bridge this would be located at the North end of Eaglesclife Station. Once over the bridge the road turns to the right, than proceed about 3 hundred yard and on the left there were a pair of big gates. There were big holes in the fence when my friend Jeff Smith and I used to go into the Quarry. It was a hole created by a dragline. Now if you go there to day (10/11/06) and stand at the gates you will still see a mound of earth in the direction due west, you would have the rail tracks at your back at this point. Anyway there might still be remnants of one or several chimneys. These were used for drying bricks as it was even in the war years Crosslys Brick works and hence the big hole or scar in the earth at this point. Now if the mound of earth is still there slightly to the left of your view then as you walk forward you would eventfully walk up to the mound with a big concrete block embedded into it. If this is still so then you will have walked over the hole now covered up with soil. This is were it gets interesting. I have seen MOD pics showing a small Bedford or Austin truck with two men manhandling and throwing crates of Merlin V12 engines as well as all kinds of aircraft parts German, American, British etc. On the pics the footnote reads that the wood is to be retuned to the MOD. as the wood is of great value. There are also pics of the plant known as Nuffields. It is were the MOD built the Admiralty naval spare part depot. There were pics of women driving tractors, pulling crashed aircraft in the big building and then there was a pic of hundreds of aircraft laying lined up some shot up some crashed others just parked up the pics are taken over several years and eventually shoe what look like haystacks covered with camouflaged netting they are in fact piles of alloy ingots from the rendered down planes. If you meet or find any one who worked there or if any body reading this wishes to comment on it or any other info regarding this unique scrap yard let me know. I believe it has all since been excavated or at least researched by an Urlay Nook man by the name of Bruce Day, beware he is not the most conversational of people and I have heard he is unfortunately in Ill health. I now live in Canada and have just turned 50 last week I used to play in the quarry as a boy.

  23. This is a question that somebody out there could possibly answer. Between Eaglescliffe Station Alans-West and Urlay Nook-Halt there was, from 1942 to 1945, a number of railway sidings belonging to the “Nuffield Organisation”,  Urlay-Nook, which had hundreds of wrecked and damaged aircraft.  British,American and  even German aircraft for smelting and recovery. Anybody with photos or stories of that site? On the same subject, one of the stories of that works is that in 1946, to prevent future aviation getting spares and enginr parts at rock-bottom prices, hundreds of aircraft parts, including engines, were bull-dozed into a number of deep holes on and around this site. Can anyone comment or confirm ?

    • My parents met while working there in 1948. We have a photo of my mother sitting on a tractor with the other female workers. She would tow the aircraft with the tractor to the various breaking areas on the site. My father was one of the workers doing the breaking!

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