Plessey Old Waggonway
Blyth to West Hartford
55.128406, -1.502064 to 55.107363, -1.624649
12 Jun 2022
12 Jun 2022
Description (or HER record listing)
Plessey Waggonway is one of the oldest and longest in the region, having started construction in the late 17th century and continued operating until 1812. It utilised old style horse drawn 'chauldrons' (like we see at Beamish) on rails made from oak wood which were often a lot more rickety and rudimental than an example from today. Coal was loaded onto small boats called keel boats to be rowed out to larger collier ships on the River Blyth, as back then it was far too shallow to allow such large vessels in.
The route is very accessible, and mostly possible to walk with a pram or wheelchair too. The section through Blyth follows the course of Plessey Road and is covered with asphalt from Newsham. At this point the A192 uses the path of the railway, meaning a diversion is necessary through a housing estate to join back up with the line, but is all paved. It then joins up with another road. While not the most visually pleasing route to walk down, it is still history nonetheless knowing you are walking the exact route of one of the North East's oldest railways.
The route of the waggonway is evident on this 1890s Ordnance Survey map, some 80 years after closure.
Route of Plessey Waggonway, 2022
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Plessey Waggonway at Newsham, Blyth
Historic Environment Records
Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past
Tyne and Wear: Sitelines
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