a Cyclemaster for all seasons

It may be just me but I think historic vehicles should be used as originally intended. Not “wrapped in cotton wool” and trailered to summer events, or put into storage as an investment, as is common practice nowadays.

Thankfully, nobody in their right mind would buy a Cyclemaster as an investment and come to think of it, nobody in their right mind would go out on one, on a winter’s day when the temperature is -2C. Nobody that is but me.

Because that’s what owners did in the 50’s. You couldn’t be put off by the weather when you had a shift at the pit, or needed to get to work, whatever you did and neither will I.

Our route takes us along the snowy Bishop Auckland to Spennymoor Railway Path, formerly the Auckland Way Railway line that was opened in 1885.

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The line was built in two sections and passes through the 200 acre Auckland Park which was created over 800 years ago, as hunting grounds for the Bishop of Durham. The first section from Spennymoor to Byers Green belonged to the Clarence Railway Company and it was built to transport coal to Port Clarence on the River Tees in 1841, from where it went to London. Over 40 years later it was extended to Bishop Auckland by the North Eastern Railway, linking Bishop Auckland to the east coast main line.

Bishop Lightfoot was the bishop at the time of  construction and he insisted he didn’t want to see the railway from his Palace or even when he entered in his carriage from Durham. It’s a sign of how powerful the church was at that time, as considerable expense was incurred in making a cutting to hide the Railway and they even built special bridges for him to pass over. The bridges were extra wide and planted with trees at each side (and over the top) to hide the line from his view and they became known as the Bishops Bridges. They survive today, as Sir Walter takes a well-earned rest.

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However, maybe Bishop Lightfoot was right. His motivation was perhaps selfish, but it has left subsequent generations with two great public assets. A Railway Path enjoyed by walkers and cyclists. And a 200 acre park with a Georgian Gothic Deer House, a beautiful arched bridge over the River Gaunless just before it joins he river Wear, an ice house and a stone pyramid that caps an early water supply to the castle – hidden treasures yet to be discovered by Sir Walter.

Today demonstrates how rugged the Cyclemaster is and how the half million produced, transported their owners to work day after day and in all weathers. I just hope he recovers for his next adventure.