Charlie Walton, of the North East branch of the Friends, has written a reflection on the memorial the Friends commissioned at Locomotion to commemorate the employees of Shildon Wagon Works.
Remembrance Sunday is a time for reflection. Even in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is important that we do not forget the ultimate sacrifice that was made by those who died in the First World War. The Friends of the National Railway Museum North East Branch at Locomotion decided that it in order to acknowledge the contribution the employees at Shildon Wagon Works made to the war effort, the museum should have an appropriate memorial to remind us of those who served in defence of the realm. They therefore commissioned a display featuring their names. It is positioned next to the 9 plank NER wooden bodied hopper wagon which Shildon Wagon Works built in their thousands. In gathering information about the display some of the branch members who worked at the works and others whose families could recall stories about the works provided us with some interesting anecdotes about the site during the WW1. These included the tale of when the works was plunged into darkness by a quick witted employee who hurried arranged for the lights to be extinguished when he observed in the night sky the menacing shape of a German Zeppelin. As the Germans had built most of the industrial infrastructure in the nearby Gurney Valley, doubtless they had a good idea where the works was situated. Fortunately, the Zeppelin we believe passed over without incident as its intended target was in all likelihood the various railway bridge crossings on the Haggerleases Branch and Tees Valley.
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