10 thoughts on “Stockton Freightliner Terminal

  1. The line was commonly known as the Billingham beck branch and ran from Haverton Hill to a junction to the north of the existing Stockton station At Haverton Hill the line split allowing traffic to and from both Port Clarence and Billingham. At the Stockton end a simple junction faced only south. It’s history goes back to 1920 when it was constructed by the North Eastern railway as a relief line for freight to ease the very busy section between Norton East box and Billingham. That section, mostly 4 track, frequently saw trains ‘parked’ bumper to bumper waiting for a path onwards. The beck branch never saw scheduled passenger trains except on diversions due to engineering etc. Closure was in stages. First the section from Haverton Hill to Portrack after which the Freightliner terminal was constructed passing traffic onto the Stockton – Eaglescliffe line, then the whole line some 20 or so years ago.

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    • A bit more info to add to above is that the Freightliner depot opened on 23rd October 1967 and closed on 27 February 1989 – the same day a new depot opened at Wilton.

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  2. The Freightliner terminal was built on part of the Billingham Branch which ran round to the south part of the ICI works. The line was straight until it passed under Portrack Lane and then swept round in a very wide curve until it went under a modern, but extremely historic bridge on the approach road to the Newport Bridge.

    The branch line was scrapped somewhat before Portrack Lane. There are views on Picture Stockton of the Billingham branch bridge and a sketch made from memory of what the area next to the railway looked like in the 1950s. There are some good aerial views on Britain From Above.

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    • Cheers Mr Starr, I know of and have been down to look at the bridge you mention as a consequence of what I believe was one of your previous posts about it.

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  3. I’ve lived in Stockton all my life but have only just recently discovered that the rail line which went to this site [under Norton Road] is no longer in use and is and probably has been for a long time a walk way.
    I have a question, would the freight terminal be a dead end with regards to the rail line or did it carry on further and if so what was the destination?

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    • Jon, yes it was a dead end splitting into two separate lines at the Freight-liner terminal, A train came in full of containers from the South and one from the North. The truck drivers started in staggered shifts some very early and the containers usually loaded straight from the rail on to the truck trailer ready to go out. When we brought containers back to the depot they normally went back on to the rail cars ready to leave around ten at night, one North one South and two more would come in. Any containers not going straight out would be stacked in the yard and taken out when a truck was free to do it, perishable goods had to be got out first. I heard that the train drivers on that stretch were told to speed up from the main line past Blue Hall under the Norton Road bridge because it was not unknown for containers to be broken into.
      The truck exit was a concrete road from the top terminal and along to the roundabout on Portrack lane past the Road Tank cleaning Depot I believe is still there. That road still forms part of the inner road on that trading estate.
      Freight-liner main gate and offices were half way along that concrete road, you drove out past the office collecting the delivery notes and back in the other side dropping off the collection notes. Run properly it should have been very efficient, I am afraid that was not achieved, being an agency driver I kept my mouth shut although having seen the massive shake up at ICI I am sure could have had it running smoothly in six months. The Office should have been running it not the union and Drivers. They tried to take me to task for dropping and picking up six containers from the local area, an easy day, no they only wanted four a day or the union did. The only reason I ever went back on relief was because the old trucks were a real drivers dream they had to be driven.
      Frank.

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      • Cheers Mr Mee, as regards the road tank cleaning depot, if that’s the one you can see from the slip road to get onto the A19 north bound from Portrack then its recently shut.

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        • Jon, nothing lasts forever, you will realise that when you reach my age.
          Never having been a railway buff I only know what I saw, the container trains came in past Blue Hall under Norton Road to a dead end. They had to be on extra low railway bogies to get the taller containers under that bridge. It was bad planning all round and eventually moved to Wilton. Loops branch lines there was nothing of that in my time at Freight-liner, they came and went out on that same line.
          Frank.

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  4. First time I have seen a picture from this angle. As you can see from the associated pictures I took quite a few myself of the Freightliner Depot from Portrack and Tilery.

    When did it close? And which way did the lorries go with the containers? Was it to Portrack Lane or through Swainby to Norton Road.

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  5. Peter that picture brings back memories, as an Agency Driver a lot of time was spent Driving for Freight-liner. I had left ICI and still had my Army HGV licence and decided to get out from under my wife’s feet a couple of days a week. I rang the agency was asked if I could go straight out and so landed at the Depot not knowing what was in store. Bananas, my first load to a ware house in Middlesbrough, a lad came running out of the Warehouse, can you reverse down the back street, having a look I said yes and did, out came a machine with a belt running opened the door of the container and it was empty in no time, the lads put a box of bananas on my seat and off I went straight into bother. Pulled into the office, container number, gave it, “cannot be that is the one you took out” yes it is empty, “what empty when you opened the doors” no the lads emptied it.
    The girl looked at me and let out a yell,” you backed down the rear lane” yes. At the yell the manager came running, you backed down the rear??? we park on the front drop the trailer pick up an empty then come back, “why it means the lads have to empty on to barrows and cart them in” well not every one can reverse down the back. well they should not be driving, I will clock off. No you will not we have another two containers to go, OK but my way, the shop Steward may want a word and he did. I got back from the last load and he was waiting for me. “If you work here you obey our rules” well that is easy I do not work here then, hang on don’t you need the work? Nope this is just a hobby job, it took the wind out of his sails, please yourself. Reg Goldsbrough who I had known for years said he ruled the roost, not me I said and left expecting never to see the place again. Wrong nearly two years work followed always at loggerheads with the shop steward yet when he went on holiday he demanded I was the only one to drive his truck a Volvo 12 probably because I did not smoke.
    On the road it was an easy job, take a container out bring one back and another run in with the shop steward. We left together for the same place in Northumberland, he disappeared, getting to the factory dropped the trailer had the other one on and leaving as he pulled in. You have been speeding he said, my Tachograph says not says I, thats it we will do a check when he got back so off I went sure enough into the office with said tachograph, the Manager looked at mine and said to the Shop Steward he did less miles than you how come. I had relatives in that area and knew my way around plus the short cuts. To me it was all fun, I did not need the work, upsetting Shop Stewards was what I did and the trucks were old you had to drive them unlike the big Mercedes Trucks I drove for one company they drove them elves. I stopped when they moved to Wilton.
    Frank.

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