Last Friday’s task for the National Trust volunteers was to clear bracken and brambles from the industrial archaeology remains in Newton Wood. Stripped of undergrowth the shape of this unusual structure becomes clear. It’s the head of a narrow-gauge tramway incline down which wagons full of ore from the Roseberry Ironstone Mine rolled down under gravity to the North Eastern Railway sidings where the ore was tipped into standard gauge wagons for transport to the furnaces on Teesside. The rake of six full wagons pulled up six empty ones connected by a steel rope which was wound around a drum at the top. The drum enabled the speed to be controlled. On reaching the top the empty trucks went over a ‘kip’ and into sidings in a cutting known as a ‘dish’ to prevent them from rolling back down the incline whilst being uncoupled.
The tramway operated from 1907 to 1931. It was 380 yards long and had a gradient of 1 in 5. As far as I know, there is just one grainy old photo available which shows the incline. It’s taken from the road of a train on the mainline railway. The incline can be seen in the background cutting across a completely treeless hillside.