Waggonways mapping criteria


In order to be able to map the Waggonways and create an accurate database it has been necessary to evolve a methodology to address a number of matters, namely, Provenance and Citations, a Bibliography of Source Material, Establishment of Time Periods, Index of Waggonways, Mapping Conventions, and Management of Mapping Progress

Bibliography of Source Material

Research was undertaken, in this respect, by members of the sub-group from which a Bibliography of Source Material has been compiled. Analysis of the sources revealed that to fulfil the remit of the sub-group a small number of books, maps, articles etc. would provide most of the information required. These documents are largely derived from primary source data contemporaneous to relevant time periods, thus providing a high level of provenanced information.

Establishment of Time Periods

The Historic England research report “Early Railways in England – Review and Summary of Recent Research” by D Gwyn and N Cossons makes reference in Chapter 3 to four time periods of Historical Development: The early mine railway – 1553 to 1603; The wooden waggonway – 1603-4 to 1770; The early iron railway – 1770 to 1830; and The early railway’s contribution to the Stephenson era – 1830 to 1840.

In their book, “A Fighting Trade” Bennett, Clavering and Rounding contrast and advocate a chronology for Tyneside coal-carrying railways which cuts across distinction between early railways and their successors: involving a ‘classic wooden way’ period of 1600 to 1775; an ‘age of invention and transmission’ from 1775 to 1825; and an ‘era of rope and steam’ lasting until 1950. (Bennett, Clavering and Rounding 1990).

There are clearly some similarities between Gwyn and Cossons, and Bennett, Clavering and Rounding in defining time periods. However, as the remit of the sub-group relates specifically to the area covered by the work of Bennett Clavering and Rounding then it was decided that their time periods should be adopted.

Mapping Conventions

Volume 2 of “A Fighting Trade” contains maps showing the routes of waggonways on Ordnance Survey maps. In order to plot the waggonway routes it is apparent that a great deal of research was undertaken by the authors which included the use of 18th and 19th century plans of waggonways etc.. Some 83 such plans are referenced in the book. Bennett, Clavering and Rounding were not certain of all sections of a number of waggonways and consequently used a mapping convention to distinguish between certain waggonways: probable waggonways and possible waggonways. The sub-group were of the opinion that the mapping work by Bennett, Clavering and Rounding showed a high level of accuracy and, have therefore used their work in its entirety for the waggonway maps.
There are, however, a number of gaps between the maps of Bennett, Clavering and Rounding and the extent of mapping required to include all waggonways within the boundary of the Land of Oak and Iron map. It has, therefore, been necessary to utilize other sources to fill in those gaps.
The diagrammatic maps in Turnbull’s books “Railways before George Stephenson” and “The Early Railways of the Derwent Valley” have been used as a starting point. This information has then been used in conjunction with 1st edition OS maps and other relevant sources to plot the waggonway routes. The plotting of the waggonways has followed the convention in Bennett, Clavering and Rounding to distinguish between certain, probable and possible waggonways. The information and plans contained in the book “Beamish South Moor Coal Mining and Wooden Waggonways Stanley/Beamish 1739 – 1779” by John E Purcell has filled in the gaps for the Stanley and Beamish area. The work of Andrew Hoseason, “The waggonways of Washington” has provided the necessary information for waggonways in Washington and adjoining areas. (to be found on the Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/WashingtonWaggonways/ (RHu)