POSTCARDS provide a fascinating window into the past, and in Thomas Watson's auction in Darlington on Tuesday are two albums of rare postcards from a collector in Belmont, near Durham.

One album shows Durham scenes, and is estimated to sell at £400 to £600 while the album of railway scenes could reach £800.

The Northern Echo: Stanley pit disaster

The West Stanley pit disaster from 1909 in which 168 men died

"Whether it is railway accidents, pit disasters, football teams or street scenes, this is a one-off collection that has it all, including some images that were taken by local photographers and have hardly ever been seen before," says the auction house's philately and postcard expert Alex Harper.

The Northern Echo: Accident near Winston station, December 2, 1909

One of the postcards that caught our eye shows a locomotive at Winston (above), between Gainford and Barnard Castle on the line from Darlington, looking very undignified lying in a ditch on December 2, 1909.

We have only once before come across this accident when we were shown a postcard entitled "Salving the wreck, December 5, 1909" (below). A crane and two engines had retrieved the loco and all are shown "ready to depart" – it is quite a formidable show of railway strength.

The Northern Echo: Salving the wreck at Winston in 1909

However, we have never been able to find a report of the accident in either The Northern Echo or the Darlington & Stockton Times. It must, thankfully, have been fairly minor, and disruption to the line must have been kept to a minimum, but you would have thought it would have merited a couple of sentences. A local photographer obviously thought the drama merited a little of his time and he produced at least two postcards which are the only record of what happened that weekend – unless you can tell us anymore.

The Northern Echo: Staindrop Excelsior FC, 1908-09

Above: Staindrop Excelsior Football Club, in 1908-09: why Excelsior?

Below: Winston football team, from 1908. There are only ten players in kits, so was the chap in the back in cloth cap and the waistcoat the goalie?

The Northern Echo: Winston

The auction starts at 10am on Tuesday, with viewing over the weekend and on Monday. Go to for details.

The Northern Echo: The first flower show held at Winston on August 18, 1908

The first flower show held at Winston on August 18, 1908 - presumably there were other flower shows in Winston afterwards?

The Northern Echo: Edwardian postcard of a ship aground at Hartlepool

A ship aground at Hartlepool

The Northern Echo: An unknown station

An unknown station - can you tell us where it is, or was?