Consett’s Christmas Countdown Day 21

Transport is a subject we come back to again and again here at History of Consett Steelworks, and here we have a selection box of some of the more unusual transport methods and stories that were created by Consett iron and Consett people.

The geographical location of Consett, being relatively remote and situated at such a high latitude, was a constant challenge for communication and movement for both the Works and the workers. This was made doubly so in times of snowy weather, as the following – slightly desperate – extract from Leaves from Consett Iron Company Letter Books 1887 to 1893 shows:

W. Smith, Esq., North Eastern Railway, 18 January 1887

I know from experience here what obstacles there are in keeping roads open in such weather as we have had, but in our very exposed district of Medomsley, Derwent, Iveston etc. we have all our railways open after the fearful snow of yesterday and I should like to have your assurance that all has been done that can be done to open your limestone roads in the same way.

W. Jenkins”

Clearly the railway to Stanhope and the lime quarries was proving more of a challenge to keep open.

People of Consett, ever resourceful, resorted to all sorts of methods to enable then to conquer the challenges of the local climate. I remember my Dad pulling us kids on a sledge all the way from Spring House Lane in Ebchester to my Grandparents’ house in Highgate to check they were ok one hard winter. Mr Lewis Priestman, whose family had a long connection with Consett Iron Works, ran the old Venture coach long after it ceased to be the main means of travel to and from Consett. Seeing the coach and horse at full speed in Shotley Bridge in 1964 must have been a fine sight. Another character who is fondly remembered by many is Jacky Herdman (shown above in a warm deerstalker hat in front of the General Offices) of the power station lab: he used to ride his horse into work if his farm at Iveston was cut off with snow and tie it up in the staff car park.

Thanks to Ralph Plumb and Alan Swinburne for sharing the information, images and memories of Jacky Herdman.