Hetton Colliery Railway 200 Trustees
James Blackburn

Hetton Town Councillor and
Former Deputy Leader
Sunderland City Councillor, Chairman of the Coalfield Area Committee and the Samuel Dobson Trust.

Trustee :-
Hetton Town Trust Board.
Hetton Home Care Services Management Board.

Past positions,
Financial Director of two retail companies and a manufacturing company.
Fellow of the Institute of Financial Accountants, and District Chairman.
Fellow of the International Association of Bookkeepers.
Sunderland City Council Cabinet Member.
Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Sunderland City Council Environment Scrutiny Committee.
Chairman the Sunderland City Council Regulatory Committee.
Vice Chairman of the Sunderland City Council Licensing Committee.
Vice Chairman of the Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority.
Many more Sunderland City Council committee membership.
Trustee of the Peterlee and District Citizens Advice Board

Peter D.B. Collins, B.Sc., Ph.D., F.Inst.P., C.Phys., F.R.S.A..

Long retired theoretical physicist specialising in elementary particle physics and cosmology, and sometime Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Sub-Warden of Durham University.

I have lived in a former colliery manager’s house in the centre of Hetton for 50 years, and am a keen gardener and former cricketer and school governor.

I have been Chairman of Hetton Local and Natural History Society since its inception in 2009, and was joint editor of the Hetton Village Atlas that it published in 2014.
I have written articles and given talks on the Hetton Coal Company, the Hetton Colliery Railway, Nicholas Wood, and the Cochrane family.

I am a trustee of Hetton Colliery Railway 200 and chair of its Lectures and Publications Committee.
John Richard Cook ex M.I.Electric.I.E

I joined Durham County Council in 1970, later becoming an Electrical Design Engineer. I carried out the design of electrical installations for most types of D.C.C. buildings including schools, colleges of further education, council offices and Social Services properties. I designed the installation for the first wind turbine at a school in mainland Britain, Cassop School. I also carried out works for Fire Brigade and Police establishments. I eventually became part of the Energy Management Unit, which saved millions of pounds in energy costs, for D.C.C.  I was also a member of the Durham County Council Environment Awards Scheme and finally retired in 2010 after 40 years in Local Government.

I enjoy railway modelling and have an exhibition layout called Kepier Colliery, which has been displayed all over the country and is loosely based on the Hetton Colliery Railway.

As a child the Hetton Lyons Colliery and Railway was our playground (no health and safety those days !) and it fostered my lifelong interest in industrial railways.
I have always been interested in local history especially the Hetton – Easington Lane- Houghton areas and have amassed a huge collection of photographs, information and histories. This includes the mining and railway history of this and other areas of County Durham and Northumberland.  I have given slide shows using my collection of photographs to numerous organisations over many years. My talks on the Hetton Colliery Railway started in the 1980’s and evolved into local scenes of the area as audiences changed i.e. WI’s and Local History Groups.
My wife and me are keen caravanners and have visited most parts of the UK.
I enjoy real ale and a good malt whisky !
I, with my like-minded colleagues, feel that the Hetton Colliery Railway must have more recognition, both nationally and internationally, as it was a major contributor to the birth of early railways in this country and eventually the whole world
Barry Curran

I started my working life with the Northern Gas Board and was in that Industry for 40 years working in and around the north east.
My last 8 years at work saw a change in my  career working alongside the in-house learning & development team training staff members on manual handling, asbestos awareness, face fit training and carrying out further duties for the Health & Safety team on Fire Safety.
Not to be outdone by all this, I also worked for 12 years as a senior youth worker in the evenings at a local youth club.
During this time I became very interested in local politics and for a number of years I was a Councillor on Sunderland City Council. I had a number roles on the Council during this period, Chair of the Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Authority, Vice-Chair of the Integrated Transport Authority and Deputy, and then Mayor of the City.
Many of my duties included chairing meetings and organising events.

I suppose my enthusiasm for steam railways started when I was a child, but when I started work I became  interested in the Industrial Heritage of the North East, particularly the very early years of the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of the railways and their partnerships with the local collieries.

And this is where my role as trustee of HCR200 links in with my great and great- great grandparents who worked at Hetton Lyons Colliery, my great grandfather as a blacksmith where two of his son’s were hewer’s. My great-great grand parents would have seen the development of the Hetton Railway in it’s early years.
It would wonderful for HCR200 to leave a legacy for the children of Hetton and the people of Britain of the huge importance and the significant development the Hetton Railway  played in the North East  and the world as an Industrial Powerhouse.”

Professor Eric Fletcher


B.Sc. Physics and Pure Mathematics University of Hull
Ph.D. Geophysics University of Newcastle upon Tyne

1969 – 1986 Lecture, Senior Lecturer. Department of Physics University of Sunderland.
1986 – 2003 Principal Lecturer, Reader, Professor. School of Computing. University of Sunderland.
2003 – 2020 Technical Director. Cleamond Software Ltd.

Research focus
Mathematical modelling of manufacturing, transport and management systems.

Teaching focus
Computer Graphics and image analysis.

Amongst others a long-time enthusiasm for fell walking and cycle touring.

Relevance to HCR200
An interest in the technical innovations that powered the industrial revolution particularly in the Georgian and Early Victorian period. Following projects undertaken for Cleamond Software an interest in developing e-learning applications
Alan Taylor Jackson
Born in January 1940, in my Grandparents house at 79 Lilywhite Terrace, Easington Lane, to my father George Maurice Jackson and mother Amelia Bees Jackson, nee Taylor, both from mining families. It was early in WW2 and there were many occasions when the siren sounded, and I was rushed to the air raid shelter carried in a washing basket.
My education was at Hetton Lyons school through all departments from Infants, Junior and Senior. Walking to school from Seymore Terrace past the White Gates crossing, with its Puffing Billies on the Stephenson Railway Line, often the gates were open holding up what little traffic was around at the time.
I like most boys expected to work at the coal mine when we left school. My family resisted me going there, probably influenced by my grandfather, on my dad’s side, being killed by a fall of stone. Not being very certain what I then wanted to do, at the age of 15, I started an engineering course at Stockton Technical College, which would lead to a lifelong career in engineering. I became an apprentice at Scanners on the Tyne, later Marconi and English Electric, making radar equipment. I was the boy from out in the sticks. Gaining experience working through all the workshops and offices before ending up in the Drawing Office, it was pencils and set squares then.
By the time I was 17 I had met Olive and we would marry in 1962. I now moved on to widen my experience at Gresley Machine Co., Coles Cranes, British Engines and Reyrolles. I had developed an interest in trade unions, becoming secretary of the Sunderland branch of the Draughtsman & Allied Technicians Union (DATA) acting as a Corresponding Member (Shop Steward) and representing them on various bodies.
By 1975, Olive and I had three children, I was invited to work for a Teesside engineering consultancy and now pursued my career doing plant layout, piping, production machines and many other things for many of the large and small companies, ICI, Rohm & Haas, DuPont, Hydro Polymers, etc. in 1992 redundancy loomed and with my colleague  Brian Stephenson, we used our redundancy money to start our own company Pendragon Engineering Design Ltd., where I worked as senior designer and managing director until my retirement in 2007. In retirement I could now spend time with my wife who had developed serious medical problems, she sadly passed away in 2010.
Always interested in local history I would become secretary of Hetton Local & Natural History Society in time to be involved with the Hetton Village Atlas project and other projects such as the Mining Heritage Statue, as treasurer of Hetton Art Club and latterly as secretary of HCR 200.
Shaun Newton BEM, BA (Hons)

Shaun is born and bred in the area of Hetton-le-Hole and Easington Lane and has always appreciated the rich significance of the local history of his community, especially since his family have lived in the area for well over 175 years.

A career in hospitality led to Shaun working in vocational training for a number of years before entering the third sector. Working for the Nazareth Trust, a Scottish charity which runs a Hospital and School of Nursing in Israel and had its UK office in Hetton-le-Hole before renting space at ELCAP in Easington Lane. Shaun was instrumental in the establishment of what is now known as the “Nazareth Challenge” whereby supporter from around the world gather each year in Israel for either a sponsored walk or sponsored Bike ride. Shaun will once again be leading the walk in October 2022, just before the HCR200 celebrations in November.

After the Nazareth Trust decided to relocate its UK office back to Edinburgh, the opportunity became available for Shaun to become employed by ELCAP as its Centre coordinator. From that time ELCAP continues to serve its local community. In recognition of the service to his local community, Shaun was recognised with the inaugural VCAS 20/20 Open Arms Award in 2020 for the individual whose work has consistently improved the lot of the community, and then in the 2021 New Years Honours List, Shaun was recognised by being awarded of the British Empire Medal for his contribution to local, community life.

In addition to all this Shaun is a member, youth worker and Minister at Hetton-le-Hole Independent Methodist Church and serves the wider family of Independent Methodists as the President of the North East Circuit and the Connexion, as its Education Organiser.

Chair of Trustees, Hetton Colliery Railway 200
Independent Methodist Minister
Chair of Trustees, Hetton-le-Hole Independent Methodist Church
Education Organiser, Independent Methodist Conn
Stuart Porthouse  IEng FIMMM FNEIMME

Past President of The North of England Branch - Institution of Mining Electrical Engineers and Mining Mechanical Engineers (IMEMME) 1990-91
Past President, Trustee and former Hon Secretary and Hon Treasurer of North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers (NEIMME) 2006-7.
NEIMME registered Charity (220208) incorporated by Royal Charter 1876 & 2005 and a Local Society of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IMMM)
Stuart was employed in the mining industry with the NCB later to become BCC from 1962 – 1994.

He commenced his career at Herrington Colliery as an Apprentice Mechanic and studied from 1962 – 1970 at Hebburn Technical College and then Durham Technical College where he obtained his AMEME Honours Certificate and qualified under the Mines and Quarry Act to be a Unit Mechanical Engineer
Stuart was employed at Herrington, Vane Tempest, Woodhorn, Easington and then returned to Herrington Colliery as Unit Mechanical Engineer. Following the closure of Herrington Colliery, he became North East Area Coal Face Engineer until his appointment at Westoe Colliery until the entire mining industry was closed in 1994.

Stuart was an elected member of Sunderland Council as a local Councillor for St Chad’s Ward 2003-7 and 2011-2019. He served on many Committees including Chair of Planning and Highways and Development Control and was Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration.
Stuart was also “The Right Worshipful Mayor of the City of Sunderland” 2014-2015

Stuart is also a Trustee of Hetton Colliery Railway 200” (HCR200) which is created to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the opening, on 18th November 1822, of the first complete railway in the world, designed by George Stephenson, to use stationary steam engines, steam locomotives and self-acting inclines throughout the whole of its eight-mile main line. The opening of the Hetton Colliery Railway in 1822 was a major contributor to the birth of early railways in this country and eventually the whole world.
Stuart is also a Trustee of Lakeside Community Association.
Stuart is married to Marie and they have two children and four grandchildren
Howard Stafford

Born and bred in Houghton-le-Spring, right beside the Hetton Line. Now, at 57, having sold my business, I have more time on my hands and, not being one to sit around, I enjoy taking an active interest in local history.

My wife and I are keen walkers, often following the many old track beds in our region – looking up their stories along the way.

As a child, I walked to school every day ‘along the line’. I didn’t give it much thought back then, but ‘the line’ and the technology around it has international significance and importance.

As a trustee of the HRC200, I hope that I can play my part in promoting and celebrating, not just a railway, but a story of optimism, entrepreneurs and cutting edge technology.
If we do our job well, we can inspire the next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs.

In my professional life, I ran a small graphics/exhibition/display business and found myself creating displays using a variety of mediums including engineered metalwork, timber and plastics. In my personal life, I have a keen interest in industrial heritage with particular emphasis in things ‘steam’.

As part of my involvement with the HCR, I am currently enjoying restoring the Elemore Waggon (an early design of rail coal truck of the style that operated on the Hetton Railway). The restoration is progressing nicely and when finished, the waggon will be used in events to promote the railway.
John Williams  (retired)

I had the choice back in the sixties to leave school age 15 at the end of the Xmas term, but decided to stay on and take what was called the “Northern Counties” exam later the following year.  By staying on and passing the exam enabled me to get an electrical apprenticeship working at Wearmouth Colliery.  The skills learned with the NCB enabled me to find work abroad and later in the Merchant Navy.  Whilst in the merchant navy we had our usual mishaps, one was when we collided with a tanker.  It certainly makes you appreciate life.   

After leaving the Merchant Navy I found work in a local factory that was very forward thinking for the time.  It was there I designed my first control system using what was new technology at the time a P.L.C.  (programmable logic controller).  I went on to design a number of systems to control high pressure die-casting machines.  We even won the “Queens award for technology” with a manufacturing cell using a die casting machine, robots and ancillary processes all controlled by one main PLC system.

Shortly after that I joined a small firm as a “controls engineer”  designing, building and commissions systems.  We started out using drawing board and pencil but as computers became more affordable we embraced the new technology.  The work took me to many places including the USA, France, Germany, Poland, Saudi, the Yemen, Kuwait.

All of this was self taught, there were no college courses or night classes to learn the stuff.  Infact many years later the boss decided to send me to college to learn Auto-Cad  and PLC programming.  I ended up giving the lecturers a few lessons. 

I have always had an interest in mechanical engineering even though I went down the electrical route.  I managed to get my hands on a small lathe and mill with the intension to build a “live steam” 5” gauge locomotive and had all the model engineer magazines to do it.  But like most things other priorities get in the way so never managed to complete it. 
I have always kept up to date with technology and when 3D printers first appeared thought  “that’s what I need”    Once you get all the silly things out of the way I decided I had to be more serious and designed from photographs   

I have never really been an outdoors sports type of person, other then when I lived in South Africa and played golf on a regular basis.   Since returning to the UK I enjoy the design and building of things, from a digital clock (when they were not available to buy) to now 3D printing projects.  I like reading old books and have a collection some going back to the 1870’s.    I do not read non fiction and prefer facts.   Some people I know think I am crazy.  My current book I am reading is on Radar and electronic navigation.  My last book I just finished was one of Fred dibna’s  “the Age of Steam”   If anyone was to look at my bookshelf they would finds books covering a huge range of subjects, from potato’s to maths, programing languages and how to drive a steam locomotive. to how colour television works.  I can honestly say I have read all of them.  Some even twice or more.