South Pelaw was an important railway junction close to Chester le Street in County Durham, where lines from Washington, Birtley, Consett, and the collieries in the Stanley area converged. The direct route to Consett was built to avoid a series of rope worked inclines between South Pelaw and Stanley, and was itself very steeply graded. Banking engines were attached at South Pelaw, and long trains for Consett were marshalled into shorter trains to go up the bank. Even into the 1960s, South Pelaw remained a busy junction.
In many ways South Pelaw is an ideal subject for a model railway, which encapsulates the complexity of railway operation that underpinned the heavy industry of Durham and Tyneside in the middle of the 20th century. One of the key traffics on the line was iron ore for the blast furnaces at Consett, which in the 1950s and 1960s was conveyed in trains of specially built hopper wagons, powered latterly by pairs of 9Fs.
Our model is built to a scale of 4mm to the foot and in EM gauge. We have sought to avoid as much compression as possible, and so it is big -- 40 feet long, and intended as an exhibition layout. The baseboards are built, much of the track in the scenic region is laid, and we even have a complete rake of bogie ore wagons built from Dave Bradwell's kit.
We plan to use this blog to document our progress, and would welcome comments from anyone with information about this fascinating place.