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The Dilly Line

A Memory of Newburn

YEAR 1953 The steam train was known as the Dilly, it would haul trucks with shale etc from Throckley to Lemington on a single track to where the pit heap was, the trucks would go into a shed one at a time and a huge barrel type thing would lock on to it turning the truck 360 degrees until the contents were tipped out. This is where the two tubs would be filled and hauled up the pit heap as I mentioned earlier. When the train and empty tubs went back to Throckley we would jump on a coupling chain or sit on the buffers on the last truck for a free ride up to the Dene. Half way along the line were two brick ventilation shafts from the old mine workings, these were approx 12 feet high and 12 feet in diameter, we would manage to scale the wall and drop inside where there was a timber floor about six feet below. There were holes in the floor and we could hear water running from a long way down, we would drop bricks down and wait for a splash which seemed to be an eternity. Fear wasn't our strongest point, as I recall some of the timbers were rotten.
There was a tub line from Blucher to the same pit heap at Lemington, this ran on a steel rope with no haulage cost as the full tubs pulled the empty tubs back up. The line crossed under Piggies Lonnen where again it was a free ride whichever way we wanted to go. I don't recall anyone ever being hurt but I do remember the time a body was found next to the tub lines with her head on the line. It was a women called Catherine Hutchinson aged 46. I have just read up on this story on micro film from the Evening Chronicle in the library "it was a Sunday night June 28 1953, she had gone out drinking with a couple of friends in the hairy mans then to Sparkies then finished in the riverside cafe. She was alleged to have been strangled by Steve O'Connor 33 in the corn field but she was not dead, he thought she was so dragged her to the lines not knowing the pits were on holiday so no tubs would run for another week, leaving the suicide plot a no no. O'Connor was arrested and went for trial at the moot hall August 6 1953. The coroner said he held her throat with his left hand not meaning to strangle but he thought he had and panicked. The verdict came on October 14/1953 and the jury cleared him without even hearing any evidence from him, the judge warned anybody accusing Mr Hutchinson of the murder would be brought before him and severely dealt with as he had absolutely nothing to do with it. One twist in the trial was that O'connor had bought two bottles of pale ale in Sparkies and put them in his coat pocket, these were found in the corn field where she was murdered but he said when he left the river view cafe  Mrs Hutchingson was standing in a shop doorway where a man and woman appeared to be having sex and another man was behind her who he couldn't see. She asked Steve for a bottle and he said he gave her both.There were numerous witnesses, 2 brothers from Blucher were interviewed and 1 said he had been by the same track with her a week prior. Another, a woman friend said Mrs H had been with a big Scotsman the Friday prior and an Irish man on the Saturday. Another neighbour said she actually seen Steve and Mrs H walking over Sparkies bridge together talking. Martha Steve's wife said while he was in prison she went to the local cinema and there was a fortune teller there who told her your husband will be convicted at the assizes and you will be a widow by Xmas. The paper says a big roar went up in the court from his friends after the verdict and steve ran into his wife's arms as he was let out. Big parties were held in both pubs with him and his friends, and he said a big thank you to Alderman William Mckeag who defended him. I remember one dark winter's night in Lemington I was visiting a couple of friends when we saw the bloke who was suspected, and we called out "Murderer". He gave chase after us, shouting "Wait till I get my hands on you, you little ********, you will be the next ones". Luck was on our side though as we had young fresh legs from all the walking, bike riding, swimming etc. If that incident had happened today he probably would have caught us as our strength would have been sapped by the TV screen and game stations. No one has been convicted of this poor woman's murder to this day December 05/2012

A memory shared by Jimmy Burrows , on Sep 27th, 2009.

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