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West brook Interior Architectural Features
Heritage Open Day September 2011
Westbrook Heritage Open Day September 2012
Railway Archaeological Site in Westbrook
Residents researching the history of their street have stumbled upon one of the most significant finds in Darlington Railway history for some time. Forgotten and neglected for over 150 years in a back lane behind Westbrook Villas is one of the few remaining structures dating back to the time of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. It was rediscovered when Shirley King noticed that a small building appearing in all the old maps of the area back at least till 1840, still appeared in modern Ordnance survey maps. Checking the position and size of a small building still remaining in the back lane with the position and size of the mystery building on the old maps lead her to think that the buildings were one and the same and might be linked to the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Its proximity to the Coal Depot in the old maps and its proximity to the remaining coal drop walls today seemed to confirm that view.
Originally the railway tracks and wagons loaded with coal came down as far as the bottom of today's Westbrook Villas near to North Road and behind Westbrook Villas were the coal drops where the bottoms of the wagons would open to drop coal into the coal merchants bays below. Coal was the main fuel of the industrial revolution making Great Britain the greatest power in the World. King Coal,in turn,made railways the most important technological advance of the time so that any one to do with coal and railways became important in their own right.
Having decided that this mystery building could well be a railway relic, whatever could it be? The building had remained virtually intact until the 1980s after which it was brutally modified by a previous owner and its most distinctive archaeological features destroyed. However Shirley could remember something of its earlier appearance. Armed with this knowledge she sought the opinion of George Flynn, a prominent local historian who immediately suggested from his vast knowledge of railways and railway architecture that it could be a Tallyman's Cabin. From his lofty position above the bays the tallyman would keep count of the amount of coal being dropped into each of the coal merchant's bays and the number of bags of coal taken by each merchant. There were 11 drops on one side and would have been used for different type of coal eg one for nutty slack. The cabin was manned by 2 tallymen.
Beginnings of Westbrook Villas
When the coal depot was discontinued the area south of the coal drop walls became the pleasure gardens of Henry Pease named Westbrook Gardens. It had the Cocker Beck running through it, a Temple, roughly at the position of the present summerhouse of No 23, and in the present back lane sheltered by the by now defunct coal drop walls, hot houses and fruit trees. In the 1860s Westbrook Gardens was sold in lots to become the Westbrook Villas and the Tallyman's Cabin was included in 1865 as part and parcel of present day No 12. Later the Cabin was sold off to become the ice cream factory of an immigrant called Antonio Risetto where he made the soft ice cream so popular before the war. He anglicised his name to Richards and the shop where he had an ice cream parlour is still run by his family today.
Photos show the outside of the cabin as it was in 1982
Stockton & Darlington Railway Coal Drops
This marvellous model of how the S&D Railway Coal drops used to look was made by Andy Young, who very kindly supplied the photographs and allowed me to use them on my website.
If you are interested in railways and their history why not join the Friends of Darlington Railway Centre and Museum for free entry to the museum’s excellent exhibitions plus a program of fascinating talks on railway related subjects, a newsletter and opportunities for volunteering.
Individual membership £12, seniors £10
Stockton & Darlington Coal Drops and Tallyman's Cabin
|This amazing model of the S&D coal drops in westbrook Darlington was made by Andy Young who generously has allowed me to use the photos he sent me for my website.|
Stockton & Darlington Coal Drops as they May Have Been
|This model shows how the S&D railway coal drops and the tallyman's cabin in the back lane of Westbrook Villas may have looked. This unique model was built by Andy Young who very kindly sent me the photographs and allowed me to use them on our website.|
Coal Drop Dimensions
The coal depots were brick lined arches 30ft long, 18ft wide, and 13ft high. Adjoining them in the Cocker Valley Henry Pease laid out Westbrook Gardens “large and beautiful with intersecting walks, a pond and temple before 1835. Edward Pease called his son’s work Henry’s folly! Previously Westbrook had been a pleasant grassy bank called Sugar Hill.
Westbrook Villas came into being when Henry Pease sold off the land gradually as one or two house plots. By 1871 there were 14 middle class dwellings two of which were schools, and residents included railway wagon works owners, the secretary of the South Durham Iron Works and the first Head of Darlington School of Art.
To learn more about railways visit Darlington's excellent Railway Museum in Station Rd, Darlington for locomotives, exhibitions,tours, talks and facilities for research.
|Westbrook murals project
To see pictures from the railway themed Westbrook Murals Project go to www.communigate.co.uk/ne/westbrookmurals. The original artwork is displayed in Westbrook Villas back lane.
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