Historic railway unearthed under Tyneside

A waggonway dating back to the 18th century has been unearthed in a Tyneside shipyard.

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Waggonway is 'remarkably well preserved'

The waggonway was a timber track for horse-drawn carts transporting coal from Willington colliery in Wallsend to the banks of the River Tyne where the coal would be tipped into ships bound for London.

“The wooden waggonway uncovered by the excavation is the direct ancestor of the modern standard gauge railway.”

– Richard Carlton works for The Archaeological Practice

“This is one of the earliest excavated examples of a timber waggon way, and is remarkably well preserved.

“It predates the locomotive and would have been used to transport coal wagons from Willington colliery to staithes on the banks of the Tyne.

“The last time something like this was found was in 1997 when the Lambton waggon way was found at Houghton-le-Spring - so it's very special.”

– Ian Ayris, Newcastle City Council's Conservation and Urban Design Manager

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