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.

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