LAST week, we were clinging behind a miniature steam engine that operated in the 1950s and 1960s at Woodhouse Close on a recreation area on the edge of Bishop Auckland.

“As a kid, I lived at St. Helens and my dad took me down to the railway about 60 years ago,” says Peter Singlehurst of Darlington. “It was built by Ray Dunn who worked on the railway as a fitter at nearby West Auckland engine shed (which was actually at Fylands, in spite of its name).


“The engine in your photo was an accurate model of an LNER A3 Gresley Pacific named Night Hawk. He said he had given it that name because of the hours he worked into the night when building it.

“One day, while I was given rides behind it, he took dad round to his home nearby to show him his workshop with lathes, drilling machines etc. Dad came back very impressed. I wonder where that engine is now?”

That we cannot answer, but we believed that the railway had a connection with Bishop Auckland and District Model Engineers, which held its first exhibition in 1948.

“In the main street in Bishop Auckland in the 1950s there was a hardware store called Defty's,” says John Askwith. We’ve met Defty’s recently because they still have a shop in Spennymoor and we believe that have a connection with the First World War nurse, Kate Maxey.

“In Bishop Auckland shop window, there was a model of a steam engine. I’m not sure what gauge, but it filled the length of the window.”

So was Defty’s the base of the model engineers?

And did Bishop Auckland boast two miniature railways?

“When I was a child in the 1940s and 1950s, there used to be a miniature railway at the top of the Cockton Hill recreation ground about quarter of a mile from Woodhouse Close,” says Royce Hutchinson, of Bishop. “It was just a straight run of 50 yards, and it was enclosed in a wire mesh compound.”

Can anyone give us any information on this miniature railway? Please email

Many thanks for all your correspondence. More in future weeks, including on the Whorlton Lido miniature railway.