Head, Wrightson & Co     Works No 33  Seaham Harbour  No 17 0-4-0VBT

This locomotive was built in 1873 by Head, Wrightson & Co for the Londonderry Railway to work at Seaham Harbour in County Durham.

The Londonderry Railway was established by the 3rd Marquis of Londonderry in order to provide an outlet from his collieries to the sea in 1831. In 1899/1900 the Marquis sold off his railway, which by then extended from Seaham to Sunderland, to the North Eastern Railway. In 1900 the Seaham Harbour Dock Company Ltd was formed and the locomotive passed into the ownership of this company.

This locomotive is one of two that were built by Head, Wrightson & Co to work at Seaham Harbour. Works No 21 became No 16 and Works No 33 became No 17. They were known as coffee pots because of their appearance as they had vertical boilers and no cabs. They were very well suited to working on the lower level lines around the bottom of the staiths because of their small size. Some of the lines, particularly through the tunnels and under the staiths, had very limited clearances, and there were also some very tight curves which were too sharp even for an ordinary 0-4-0ST.

On the whole, the duties of the coffeepots was fairly light. When not on work under the staiths the engines trundled around the low level lines with perhaps a couple of flat wagons, one loaded with cement and the other with a cement mixer. They would take the equipment to wherever maintenance work – repairing cracks in the harbour walls, for example – was being undertaken. In winter, damage to the breakwater and sea walls was common. The engines were also used for shunting the 5 ton cranes which were used to lift the concrete blocks.

This locomotive has 2ft 5½in driving wheels and 9in x 14in cylinders.

In 1962 the locomotive was taken out of service and sold back to its supplier.

The locomotive was moved to Thornaby along with Works No 21 and they were subsequently joined by No 1.

Apprentices at Head Wrightson then restored the locomotives to what it was believed to have looked like originally.

All three locomotives later moved to Beamish Museum.

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