“FIRST of all,” begins Dennis Mawson of Crook, “let me say what a superb picture on the front of last week’s Memories.”

Dennis certainly knows how to catch our eye, and we thought last week’s front was a painterly study of the Shildon railway sidings.

“The number of locomotives and rolling stock just goes to show how busy Shildon was at this time,” he continues.

“The train in the foreground is made up of a variety of wagons – the fourth one from the engine could be a 21 ton wagon hopper mounted on a flat wagon, and the fifth one appears to be a 16 ton mineral wagon on a lowmac wagon. I wonder if this train is destined for Shildon Shops, where the wagons are due to undergo repair?”

After lots of detective work, Dennis concludes that the loco on the left is a Ivatt 4MT, probably No 43099 which was built in Darlington, started service in January 1951, and finished its working life in December 1966 – therefore the picture, he surmises, was taken between 1960 and 1965.

Roger Jennings has been using other locos on the picture to date it.

“The big clue is the diesel locomotive (on the right), which is either Class 24 or Class 25. These were delivered in a plain green livery, and they were not painted with a small yellow warning panel until 1961 or 1962.

“It would seem, therefore, that the picture dates between late 1961 and early 1966 when the Darlington steam shed shut.”

And then comes an extraordinary email from John Newbold. “I believe the person on the right of the picture is George W Chapman, also known as “Judd Nick”, who was a shunter there until the yard’s closure,” he says.

“I worked in the up yard in the top right hand side of the picture as a traffic number taker. I think the date of the picture is 1964-65 as it's around that time that we were converting to diesels.

“I was told that we were the third biggest yard in the world back then.”