We began our mission thinking that our nearest route was the Backworth Waggonway - we followed the existing railway line from behind Tesco on Norham Road, and traced clues all the way to Howdon Road. We were amazed at how the local landscape could reveal evidence of the long-forgotten waggonways.
Heading for Percy Main metro, the curve of the road leading under the metro bridge is identical to the line that the waggonway took on the old map we studied
Look at us here; we’re in the Percy Main area – the pathway that we’re walking along is part of the old waggonway, it’s now a footpath!
This point marks the end of our waggonway walk; you can see Howdon Road above us on the flyover! We were amazed at how much of the old waggonway had been turned into footpaths and roads that are recognisable on maps.
Our big discovery!
After our walk, our enthusiasm for finding more waggonways soared!! We realised that by looking at and comparing old and new maps, and also by looking for features in the landscape (e.g. old bridges, buildings, bridleways and paths) we could find more waggonways.
We studied a map of 1922, which showed a waggonway belonging to Preston Colliery. By studying the 1922 map, and comparing it to one of the present day, we realised that Preston Pit and its waggonway were on Collingwood’s doorstep!!
The site of the pit is where you will now see the playing field and bowling green at the end of Heaton Terrace. The waggonway followed the route that is now Regent Terrace – Billy Mill Avenue – The Nook and finished at the end of Victoria Crescent!! As well as clues from the maps, we also noted that these roads have a natural gradient down towards the River Tyne.
By visiting North Shields Library to investigate further, we found that Preston was a small colliery, and didn’t have its own waggonway at first. When it opened in the late 1880’s, coal was sold at the pithead. We think the waggonway opened in 1913, but closed when the pit was abandoned in 1929.
See our waggonway today!!!
We were privileged to see our waggonway marked out in metal studs bearing the waggonways logo.
On a sunny morning in June 2005, a team from North Tyneside Council, including Jim Cowan and Geoff Hall, accompanied the Time Travellers to the site of Preston Pit to lay the studs along the route of the waggonway.
All of the children involved in the discovery were invited to help lay the studs, and we had great fun setting the studs into the ground with a strong resin. We are so proud that our discovery is now permanently marked for the public to see forever. Why not go there today and see it for yourself?