Footbridge to Primrose Hill

t14749 t14750Primrose Hill Footbridge giving access over the rail tracks from Dundas Street to Ford Street near the gasworks. The second photograph shows steps which led down to the site of the rail shunting sidings.

Photographs and details courtesy of Tony Flynn.

14 thoughts on “Footbridge to Primrose Hill

  1. On remembering the Gas Works Bridge I can still smell the steam from the trains as you stood on the bridge waiting to be engulfed in the steam of the passing trains. But another smell even stronger than the steam was the smell from the piggeries on the Eastbourne side of the bridge on the right hand side leading up to the Bridge. what a stink, and we raced passed this point as quickly as we could holding our breath. Wonderful memories even if they are a bit smelly.

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  2. Just beyond and to the left of the steps in the picture was the shunting hump with wagons allowed to run by gravity, controlled by brakesmen, into the various sidings according to train and destinations. There was at one time a building by the bridge and shunters’ cabins below. This was in continual operation until around 1963’64 when Tees Yard took over. The yard was then still used for stabling of trains and storage of wagons for some years.As will be seen the foot bridge is in two distinct parts and the Stockton marshalling yards were I believe closed at one point then later modernised and re-opened in the later 1930s. Stockton engine shed had at one time a large shunting tank locomotive allocated whose job it was to draw the rakes of wagons beyond the hump then push them back, where they would be uncoupled with shunting poles to run by gravity into the fan of sidings.

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  3. I knew it as the gas works bridge and you needed a passport to cross it after the dance finished. The heavy mob would be on the bridge to see who was taking their girls home, luckily as with the railway crossing at Portrack I was known so pass friend. Those not friends were gently persuaded to leave though as again with Portrack crossing there were some notable wars, not all went quietly. People looked after their own, we all knew each other and arguments were settled one to one not with knives. Not all changes are for the better.

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    • This picture brought back many memories as I lived in Lucan Street until 1959. We used to go train spotting on the bridge or walk over it to go and play football in Newtown rec. I never saw any trouble or heard of anyone having any when trying to cross. My uncle had a butchers & general stores on Londonderry Road. Over the bridge was a large shunting yard which was quite busy as we watched the brake men make up the train.

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    • Frank your post reminds me of the use of RAF passwords and the ‘Pass Friend’ camp guard duty situations that occur: My father told me a comical tale about an Army Officer on a base he was stationed at who was forever posting new passwords, the snag was the men did not take the slightest notice of them, so to have some frisk the base gate guards used to ask soldiers returning to base late at night who’d had a pint or two, for the ‘password’. The game was to make it appear you would not be allowed on the base without the password. The conversation would go something like this: “Halt, who goes there?, “Soldier, yer what, “Guard: Password”, after a 5 second pause then came the response, “Go and *@&;%4$%4”. Guard’s tongue in cheek reply: “Pass Friend”.

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  4. As others have mentioned it was known as Prossers Bridge

    But what a depressing scene. During the 1950s this whole area was filled with trucks, but even then as far as I remember there was not much shunting going on. The main action was the steady arrival and departure of passengers trains at Stockton Station. There was much more making up of trains near the Malleable Works on the North Shore Branch.

    Some passenger trains would be coming round from Middlesbrough and going up to Sunderland.. But I think that there was a reasonable number of mainline locomotives, possibly of the A3 type. Sometimes you could see the polished green coat. Certainly up to 1959 it was possible to get a direct steam train to London. And during the late 1960s I could get an overnight train on a Sunday night, down to London. By then a Class 47 Diesel.

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    • There was always a lot of shunting going on in the forties & fifties, I went over the bridge to school & what about the blue trains we called streakers. there used to be a midnight train to Kings Cross on a Friday night, we used it to go to watch the finals at Wembley.

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    • Always knew this as the gasworks bridge and yes this is a depressing sight when i think back to the amount of traffic this yard both south and north ends dealt with and the amount of people employed there. The yards dealt with a great volume of traffic until Tees marshalling yard opened in the early sixties both the north and south humps were extremely busy and lots of trains worked out of there. I walked over this bridge on many occasions when I lived in Hardwick and can’t remember any bother or heavy mobs I think any fighting for the girl was sorted at whichever dance hall you had been to, and to the victor went the spoils but as you say Frank it was usually sorted one to one and you quickly learnt to get the first punch in and make it count, but I will say that grudges never carried on for long.

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      • Fights in the Dance Halls were usually put down quickly. After nine when the lads came in from the pub a few scuffles may start and were promptly quelled by a group of lads around grabbing the fighters and putting them out of the door, we wanted to dance not fight. My time was near the end of the war and Dancing was our let down from the austerity of the times and the long hours we worked, the girls nearly all worked too. We walked the girls home through blacked out streets often deserted with narrow back alleys, there was still nasty people around but they did not have cars. We often walked a group to the bridge then the Eastbourne lads would walk them on and we would get back on our way to Norton always walking, it is what we did
        The war ended and the lights went on “err” not quite, hundreds of street lights had fallen into disrepair and had to be renovated new mantles and glasses then lit by the lamp lighter, only a few were clockwork then, it took months I do remember a few electric lights in Stockton not many. We always walked in groups boys and girls, from and too Norton saving the bus fare for a bag of fish and chips at the Avenue fish shop as we called it then on to the green and the waiting Girls Dad’s.
        Later when I took regular dance partners to Portrack or Eastbourne I was known hence the pass friend. Our expectations were a chaste kiss goodnight and a hesitant see you at the dance or a date at the pictures. We were afraid of being lured into a shotgun wedding as they were called and I had two mates this happened to, married at sixteen seventeen was not a life then living with parents or inlaws had its tensions, on occasion I see one of those couples toddling round the shops Darby and Joan still so for some it worked.
        We danced as I knew it until the 1950’s then we got the three chord wonders who could neither play or sing and so ended my generations big dance nights, we retired to the clubs, my wife and I still dancing well past retirement age, the memories of those wonderful Dance Halls still lingers though, ” can you tell” maybe it does show.

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    • Long distance passenger train times were far more convenient then,than now as you say Fred. I caught the late train from Billingham station to Kings Cross in January 1969,and had a compartment to myself. During the early sixties this train,the “Midnight Flyer” as us trainspotters called it did not stop at Billingham, certainly in 1963, when I was required to attend an interview at 10.30am at a shipping company office in London, I had to board at Stockton.

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