Brusselton Incline Illustration

Telling the Story of the Brusselton Incline

The Shildon Heritage Alliance has made a second short film, in partnership with the Brusselton Incline Group, telling the story of the Brusselton Incline and its part in the creation of the world’s first public steam passenger railway at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

This film was produced and directed by Shildon Heritage Alliance CIC Director Dave Reynolds based upon input from Brusselton Incline Group members Trevor Horner and John Raw, and with additional documented input from Caroline Hardie of the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. It was narrated by Daniel Childs, a SHA CIC volunteer.

The film was created at no cost to the Brusselton Incline Group or the SHA CIC in that it it was entirely voluntary.  It features spectacular aerial footage shot by local drone enthusiast and photographer Mark Ingleby, as well as ground based film footage and animations created by Dave Reynolds. Even the music was offered voluntarily, by experienced film and TV composer Glenn Maltman. In all it took about eight weeks to create from planning and scripting to to launch.

The film was premiered online on the 195th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, on the 27th September 2020, as part of a Heritage Action Zone Festival organised to consist of events extending along the full extent of the Stockton & Darlington Railway route. It had been intended to receive an initial physical screening at an exhibition organised by the Shildon Heritage Alliance and Brusselton Incline Group that week – however this wider plan had to be shelved as a consequence of rising cases of coronavirus infection resulting in new restrictions on public gatherings.

Dave, who is also a member of the Brusselton Incline Group, felt it was important to highlight the story of the Incline, and the reasons why it is now a scheduled ancient monument.

“The Incline is a much misunderstood feature. Though it’s often visited, even locals are a little unsure of what it is, how it worked and why it’s important. There are a few common misconceptions about it, such as the idea that steam locomotives might have run up and down the hill, or along the stretch at the bottom of the valley.  When you learn that it was rope hauled, with powerful static steam engines at the crest of each hill, then on the face of it that becomes quite impressive.  When you dig into the detail of that idea, though, and the challenges in undertaking such an endeavour – that’s when you realise that it’s really much more remarkable than that.”

“Since the Brusselton Incline Group was formed in 2014 they have undertaken some remarkable work restoring and looking after the remaining visible sections of the incline.  They have made it a much more appealing, and understandable, place to visit – so I really wanted to highlight why Brusselton should matter to them, and to the surrounding community.”

There is a great deal to say about heritage features around Shildon, and we’re proud to have captured this little chapter on a short film that can help people to digest.

The Shildon Heritage Alliance intends to work on another new film during 2021

You can watch The Story of The Brusselton Incline here…..

Shildon Works - Sawing Timber

Documenting Untold Stories of Shildon Wagon Works

It’s been a busy time for the Shildon Heritage Alliance CIC since our formation in mid 2019 – particularly with our project to revive and hopefully restore Shildon Railway Institute.  That has been going well – but we’ve had a few successful side projects too.

We organised a reunion for the former workers from Shildon Wagon Works to commemorate the passing of 35 years since the place was closed. And hot on the heels of that was the Chuffed To Bits Beer Festival, a festival themed on Shildon’s connection with the railways, just what you’d expect at a railway institute.

But amidst the madness, we made our first attempt at doing something to create a longer-lasting legacy regarding the wagon works, which was an attempt to get some of the untold stories of the workers themselves down for posterity. To do this we thought we’d make a film, which we called The Full Works.

Now, I have to say here that we’d have failed utterly had none of those workers bravely come forward to tell their stories on camera; so we have to thank our friend Colin White who contacted and co-ordinated a number of former colleagues. It wasn’t easy for some of the men to recall those days and at least one became quite emotional and decided not to continue.

The footage was shot, appropriately, inside the main hall of the Institute, where it was screened several days later. But in addition, we managed to acquire, again through a number of former workers, some archive photographs. This was augmented by some stunning aerial photography carried out by Skyward Aerial, using a licensed drone pilot.

For a first attempt, we were quite pleased with the results and proud of our effort. We’re also pleased to say that a number of other former workers came forward on the day of screening offering to allow us to similarly capture their memories – which we will aim to do during 2020.

The film is available online for anyone to enjoy hopefully for a long time to come. We’ve added it to this page for your convenience (see below).

There were a number of other film submissions put forward for the works reunion event too, including footage extracted from TV reports at the time of the wagon works closure, footage from the 1975 150th anniversary steam cavalcade and TV documentary footage belonging to the Stabler family featuring their story around the time of the works closure. We were really grateful for all of those films, as well as the superb contribution made by the Shildon History Recall Society.