The North East branch of the RCTS was founded in May 1936 immediately after the Management Committee recommended the formation of provincial branches outside the London and Birmingham sections which were already in operation. Five other branches were formed around the same time.
The first North East Branch Secretary was Edward Haigh of Darlington, who soon organised shed visits - the first being on Sunday 28th June 1936 to Wakefield, Normanton and Ardsley, followed by a visit to Peterborough and March. A third visit on 30th August took in Holbeck, Farnley Junction, Stourton and Copley Hill. 1936 was rounded off by a visit to Doncaster, Mexborough and Neepsend on 20th September. Train travel was always used, taking advantage of cheap travel on excursions wherever possible. London was visited on 30th May 1937, taking in Camden, Willesden, Kentish Town and Neasden, and using an excursion train from Darlington and Scarborough at a fare of 12/6d [63p].
A visit to Dublin was advertised for 19th August 1939 and, if it took place [in view of the impending hostilities] was the first ever Branch overseas visit. The outbreak of war in September 1939 brought an end to such activities with many members called up for war service. In 1940 a register of Branch Members serving with HM Forces aided correspondence. After the end of the War, visits resumed on 26th May 1946 with a trip to the Leeds area. A regular feature of the Branch activities was the monthly works and shed visit to Darlington, which continued until the works closed in April 1966.
Ken H. Cockerill became Secretary in 1949, followed by P. ‘Sam’ Woods , Ken Crabtree , Ken Linford , Dave Tyreman , Alan Dodgson , Keith Stewart  and Jim Sedgwick . Long serving Branch Chairman, Ken Cockerill, finally stepped down in November 1994. David Tyreman was made an Honorary Life Member during 2011, and his position of Branch Chairman was recently taken over by Tony Skinner.
Other local members have served on the RCTS Management Committee, including Tony Skinner as Treasurer for several years. The current RO Editor, Mike Robinson, is a former branch member. Other members who have served the Society well over many years include Alec Luke and Dick Taylor. Eric Lomax, lately of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and known around the world as 'The Railway Man' was also a former branch member. In addition to his long service to the Branch, Dave Tyreman also found time to co-author with John Young 'The Hughes and Stanier 2-6-0s' for the Society.
A NE branch visit to NCB Backworth shed on Saturday 27th February 1954 included Ted Haigh, the first branch secretary (by the tripod) and member no. 23 Ron Dentey (with the flat cap) A.B.Crompton/D.Tyreman collection
The RCTS ‘Stainmore Limited’ rail tour hauled by 3MT 2-6-0 No. 77003 and 4MT 2-6-0 No. 76049 was at Kirby Stephen East on 20th January 1962 N E Stead collection
The first Branch Railtour was on Saturday 5th May 1951 to Catterick Camp using the 11.03 ECS from Darlington and the 12.15 booked passenger return. The locomotive was A5 class 4-6-2T No. 69806. This was followed by the Yorkshire Coast Railtour jointly with the West Riding Branch. In 1960 there was a brake van trip on the Tyne Dock to Consett line behind 9F 2-10-0 No. 92097 on 26th March and the Darlington to Carlisle line via Tebay on 7th May with J21 0-6-0 No. 65033. Other well-remembered railtours are the Stainmore Limited hauled by Nos. 77003 and 76049 on 20th January 1962, the North Eastern Tour in 1963 and similar tours in 1964 and 1965.
The branch was instrumental in having the J72 0-6-0T station pilots at York  and Newcastle  appearing in North Eastern green livery in 1960. The first industrial railway visit, other than the National Coal Board, was in 1961 but shed visits tailed off with the demise of BR steam in 1968. Main line traffic surveys and inter-branch quizzes also faded but a railway film group met in the late 1970s. A very regular series of meetings at Newcastle and Darlington have provided the winter programme from 1952 to the present day.
For many years now a dedicated band of members have taken Branch Sales stands to events from Berwick and Carlisle to York and most points in between. The Branch has also been represented, often on the committees, of regional events such as the 150th and 175th Anniversaries of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, the 150th Anniversaries of the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, Newcastle Central Station and the High Level Bridge and Carlisle Citadel. The Branch organised the Tyneside Centenarian Metro Railtour on 4th July 2004. Sadly many of the colourful members of past years are no longer with us, but the Branch continues to flourish with its present committee. Long may it continue to do so.
Class J72 0-6-0T No. 68736 in NER livery is working empty stock for the RCTS/SLS ‘North Eastern Tour’ through Heaton station on 29th September 1963 David Tyreman
The modern scene as Freightliner 66597 hauls empty coal hoppers on the Drax to Leith South route through Morpeth station on 5th January 2010 as Northern Rail 156451 is leaving on the 13.50 Morpeth to Metro Centre J Turnbull
last updated: 10/03/14