[Source: Nick Catford]

An interesting northwards view across Middleton-in-Teesdale station and its facilties. The town itself is out of view in the left background, being a little under half a mile from the station; the River Tees running between town and station but is difficult to discern in this view. The river runs left to right roughly across the centre of the photograph. The ownership of the wagons tell us the photograph was taken post Grouping, ie after 1923, and is almost certainly prewar. Behind the photographer is Middleton Quarry which ceased production sometime in the early 1930s. It is unclear if the quarry was still in operation when this photograph was taken but the presence of wagons from as far away as the Great Western and Southern Railways might suggest it was. There were once numerous quarries and mines in the area, extracting lead ore and whinstone (Middleton Quarry extracted the latter), so the presence of the wagons and the tipper lorry should not be taken as proof Middleton was still in operation. Features of the station visible are part of the platform, the goods shed (left) and cattle pens behind and right of the running-in board. Nearer the camera, the locomotive is sitting on the out-of-view turntable and the water tower can be seen at far left. The locomotive appears to be an ex-NER Class C 0-6-0, LNER/BR Class J21. The tipper lorry, busy discharging its load into railway wagons, is too far away for positive identification but under magnification would appear to be an early Daimler or AEC. Its cab design and apparent high ground clearance suggests is was an ex-military vehicle of WWI origin. It was the availability of large numbers of government surplus vehicles which began the hammering-in of the nails of the railway goods traffic coffin. Middleton Quarry had an extensive internal system of railway sidings although these would have been altered from time to time as required (see maps). The quarry had two connections with the Middleton-in-Teesdale branch, both accessible only via sidings from a connection at the eastern end of the station site and both required a reversal. The westernmost connection into the quarry can just be seen in the foreground, curving southwards at bottom right of the photograph to pass beneath what is now the B6277 road from which this photograph was taken. The second connection was further east and also passed beneath the B6277. The site of both bridges can still be discerned today; that just out of view to the right being located 195 yards from the junction with the road to Holwick and the second 480 yards from the same datum. The site of the latter is, however, now largely obliterated with the only evidence being the parapet along the south side of the road. At bottom right of the photograph a narrow gauge track with a few tubs present can be seen. What was clearly a facility for tipping material from the narrow gauge tubs directly into standard gauge wagons is also visible. Given that the quarry was well served by standard gauge tracks, the reason for the existence of the narrow gauge tracks and their extent remains a mystery. Equally mysterious is motive power, irrespective of gauge. The numerous quarries in the area are known to have used horse traction for narrow gauge lines serving lead mines while the whinstone quarries are known to have had locomotives at some point in time but the specific details have so far remained elusive. Middleton and other quarries in Teesdale were operated for many years by Messrs. Ord & Maddison who became part of Tarmac in 1962. Today Middleton Quarry is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the only remaining operation in the Middleton-in-Teesdale area is the Cemex operated Forcegarth Quarry some distance to the north-west.
Photo from John Mann collection

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