Film ID: YFA 5617 Video of YFA_5617 Hartlepool Sleeper Depot HARTLEPOOL SLEEPER DEPOT 1957 Visitor TabsDescription Part of the Fastline Collection this film shows railway sleepers being unloaded at Hartlepool docks and taken to West Hartlepool Creosote Depot where they pass through a creosote machine. The film begins with Dockers unloading railway sleepers from a ship (the Merak), possibly at Hartlepool docks. The sleepers are stacked high on the dockside next to a railway line. The sleepers are measured and shuffled around by a dockworker using a steel bar with a hook and then loaded onto railway wagons by a crane. The film switches to a workshop, most probably West Hartlepool Creosote Depot, where the sleepers are loaded onto a conveyer belt. They pass through a planing machine and emerge at the other end and loaded back onto railway wagons. These open wagons are shunted by a steam locomotive into large round metal containers for the sleepers to be creosoted. These are sealed before being pulled out the other end by a chain. A workman unloads a railway wagon of metal chairs which pass along a conveyer belt and have fixings inserted into them by a machine. The chairs are then fixed onto the sleepers by screws partially hammered in by workers. They then pass through another machine which drills the screws fully down. As they come out the end the sleepers are hooked back into wagons, and the film comes to an end. Context This is one of a large collection of films created by the Photographic Unit of the Chief Civil Engineer of the LNER in York, and his successors on British Railways, and eventually being passed on Fastline Photographic Ltd. The sleeper depot on Cleveland Rd, near Hartlepool docks, had been refurbished in 1956, but has since closed. Although freight traffic on the rail was in sharp decline, and severe line cuts only a few years away, the permanent way is nevertheless anything but permanent. With over 2,00 sleepers required for each mile of track, the job of replacement is continual. Each of the timber sleepers, made from fir trees, 9 ft long by 10 in wide by 5 in deep, has to absorb from three to six gallons of creosote. One machine shapes two flat seats on the timber to receive the chairs, and at the same time bores the six holes for the chair-screws As the air in the tank is taken out and creosote is pumped in under pressure until the desired quantity has been absorbed. Rails gradually wear away, owing to the constant abrasive action of the wheels on their upper surfaces; in tunnels corrosion still further reduces their life. Other track constituents similarly wear out; sleepers, in the course of time, rot or split; the ballast gets dirty and fails to give efficient drainage. Periodic renewal of the permanent way, either in part or as a whole, is always, therefore, in progress. The supply of timber for sleepers is a problem. Most of the sleepers used on British lines come from the countries bordering on the Baltic, and are of The depots at which this creosoting is done are, with their huge piles of sleepers, familiar sights to travellers; they may be seen on the GWR at Hayes, in Middlesex; on the LNER at Boston, Lowestoft, and West Hartlepool; on the LMS at Beeston (Nottingham), Northampton, and Ditton Junction (Widnes); and on the Southern Railway at Redbridge, near Southampton. The seasoned sleepers are run on trolleys into long cylindrical tanks, which are then tightly closed, after which the air in the tank is exhausted and creosote is pumped in under pressure until the desired quantity has been absorbed. At the same depots the sleepers are now “chaired” by automatic machinery. One machine shapes two flat seats on the timber to receive the chairs, and at the same time bores the six holes for the chair-screws; Experiments are being carried out in Great Britain with steel sleepers, and in the course of time much more information about these latest experiments will available. Concrete sleepers have been tried, but with unsatisfactory results; they are very cumbersome to handle, and cannot stand up to their work without cracking as a result of vibration. Recently, in 1956, a large remodelling scheme wag undertaken this will be described in detail later which included the introduction of extra machines and operations, together with mechanical handling, it has brought the depot up to modern standards and indeed to the forefront.