Middle Engine Waggonway

This is the site of the Middle Engine, which was one of the engines used on the Seaton Burn Waggonway. This stationary steam engine hauled the coal trucks up and down the lines between the High Winding Engine located at Hillheads, Killingworth and the third or Low Engine near the River Tyne at Northumberland Dock in North Shields. The natural fall of the land from the High Engine down the the Low Engine saved locomotive power on the downward journeys of the coal waggons.

Middle Engine Lane was linked to the Blyth & Tyne Line, the Cramlington, Seaton Burn and Seghill waggonways. These routes were built by individual coal companies and were only shared following the establishment of the National Coal Board in 1947. The track at the nearby Stephenson Railway Museum is on the original line of the Seaton Burn Waggonway. This track was also the original test track for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The waggonways are important corridors for wildlife and are home to a wide variety of birds, mammals and insects. Plant life is also abundant, with many species found synonymous to the waggonways due to the rich mineral content of the soil

Tall hawthorn hedges interspersed with oak, willow and dog rose, line the pathways, providing good habitat for feeding and nestling birds such as dunnock, song thrush, sparrows, blue tit and great tit. Rosebay willow herb, a plant which rapidly colonises bare or waste ground and is often found on railway embankments, can also be seen along the path.

Leading up to Silverfox Way there are mixed woodland plantations of benefit to numerous bird species and small mammals. In springtime look out for cowslips along the edges of the path. Ditches also run along the waggonway with numerous small wetland areas filled with aquatic plants such as soft rush, reedmace, lesser spearwort and marsh marigold. These are important areas for breeding amphibians, as well as damselflies and dragonflies.