Place Names : Shildon

Artefacts Of The S&DR

If you are walking around Shildon, you will see lots of street names with a link to the railway. Many are named after Hackworth or one of his locomotives, such as the Royal George. Chapel Street reminds us that a chapel once stood here. Adelaide Street is named after a colliery that was served by the Black Boy branch, but also an S&DR locomotive. Adamson Street, next to the Railway Institute is named after one of its eminent engineering members, Daniel Adamson and Bouch Street, a little further along, after William Bouch the engineer who replaced Timothy Hackworth in the S&DR and who championed the Railway Institute.

Black Boy takes its name from the Black Boy coalfield which also lent its name to the Black Boy pub at Canney Hill, at the top of the Dene Valley. The name was used for a variety of coal pits going back at least to the 18th century and referred to the state of the boys who went down the mines when they emerged after a day’s toil.

Near the top of the Black Boy incline you might notice a street name on the right called Foundry Street and another leading off it to the left called Phoenix Place. These streets are both named after an iron and brass foundry called the Phoenix Foundry. It was owned by Nicholas Downing and opened in 1832. The foundry occasionally undertook contract repair work and maintenance of rolling stock for the S&DR; it also featured in S&DR minutes in relation to water supplies for Shildon and access to the branch line. Nicholas Downing also bought the Magnet and Lord Durham from the S&DR for use in his Phoenix Foundry in 1846.The foundry was disused and demolished by the end of the 19th century.

Downing funded a joint venture with the Hackworths to create Hackworth & Downing; this company was contracted to keep the Black Boy and Brusselton Inclines running smoothly, but they were often criticised by the S&DR company for carrying out the work in an unsatisfactory manner. The company also made locomotives for the S&DR and other railway companies (John Graham’s Notebooks 1834-7 (Books 2-3)) and was eventually absorbed into Timothy Hackworth’s Soho Works.