WW1 Forestry Railway at Thrunton Woods

In 1916 the Canadian Government responded to a plea from the British Government for foresters to come to the UK to increase the timber output for pit props due to the increased demand for coal (especially from the British fleet) and military demands (for huts, duckboards, ammunition boxes and trench linings). Forestry camps were set up at Harbottle (in the Coquet valley), Thrunton and, later, Chillingham, all of which were served by forestry railways.  At Thrunton the railway led from the base of Thrunton Crag to a sawmill and timber yard on the east of the Morpeth to Cornhill road (now the A697). A siding connected the timber yard with the Alnwick to Cornhill railway just to the south of Whittingham station. ‘Internal user’ wagons brought the wood from the base of Thrunton Crag to the yard and sawmill.  Main-line wagons moved the pit props and sawn timber onwards. A small saddle-tank locomotive, built some 30 years earlier in Kilmarnock, hauled the wagons on the system.

Two views of the forestry railway which linked Thrunton Crag with a  sawmill and timber yard adjacent to the Alnwick- Cornhill railway.  Operated by the Canadian Forestry Corps, the line employed a small Scottish-built locomotive to move the empty and laden wagons.  The upper photograph shows a wagon laden with freshly-cut timber and a group of Canadian foresters with their distinctive hats!  The lower photograph shows the saddle tank locomotive named IMPERIAL with a load of sawn timber ready for despatch.