There were 7 powered inclines and 4 gravity powered inclines around springwell Colliery, which is now the site of the Bowes railway.
The bowes railway is the only cable hauled railway still in operation in the UK.
Blackham's Hill is at the summit of the two rope worked inclines on the Bowes Railway. One incline leads down to Springwell Colliery and the second in the other direction leads down to Black Fell. The hauler house, which contains the winding engine for the two inclines. The building is open to visitors and, when possible, the haulage is demonstrated in action. On these occasions visitors are able to watch the waggons being raised and lowered on the inclines by rope. The winding engine is powered by a 300hp electric motor (2750VAC) and operates two rope drums, one for each incline.
800 yards down the Blackham's Hill west incline is the site of the next hauler in the chain of inclines. This is situated at Black Fell. This hauler will never move waggons again but the machinery is still largely intact and the site is presently awaiting renovation. There is a path from Blackham's Hill alongside the incline to the Mount Level Crossing halfway down the incline, on the Eighton Banks road. From here, visitors can reach Black Fell by following the road.
The hauler house stands 470 ft (143 m) above sea level on part of the 1826 Springwell Colliery Railway. It is a rare example of a single hauler working two inclines.
Blackham's Hill East Incline or Springwell Flat runs from the hauler to Springwell and is approximately 1170 yards (1069 m) long with a gradient of 1 in 70 (1.4%).
Blackham's Hill West Incline or Blackham's Short Bank runs from the hauler to Black Fell and is approximately 750 yards (685 m) long with a gradient varying between 1 in 18 (5.5%) and 1 in 13.7 (7.3%).
Of the original engine little is known except that it had two rope drums built over the track, was steam driven and was operational from 1826 to 1854.
The second engine, operational from 1854 to 1915, was a second-hand beam engine built by Thomas Murray of Chester-le-Street, County Durham which came to the Railway from the Annfield Plain area of County Durham. It had a 27 x 48 inch (68.5 x 121.9 cm) cylinder with a single eccentric with grab motion to the slides. Steam was supplied to the engine by three boilers working at 30 pounds per square inch (2.11 kg/sq cm). In 1904 the three boilers were replaced by two Lancashire boilers with an increased pressure of 100 pounds per square inch (7.03 kg/sq cm). This engine worked the inclines by two rope drums, only one of which could be in gear at any time. Both of the haulage ropes came out of the building on the West side, so a large return wheel was placed under the track to turn the east rope.
The third engine and present hauler house were commissioned in 1915. The engine was built by Andrew Barclay, Sons and Co Ltd of Kilmarnock (maker's No 7923). It had 18 x 36 inch (45.7 x 91.4 cm) horizontal cylinders worked at 100 pounds per square inch (7.03 kg/sq cm) and was geared 3:1. The engine also had two rope drums - the East drum was 8 feet (2.45 m) in diameter and the West drum was 6 feet (1.82 m). It worked well for over 30 years until it suffered a broken bedplate. Once this was repaired, the engine worked at a reduced load until it was replaced in 1950.
The present engine was installed in the 1915 hauler house and was commissioned on 30th July 1950, most of the installation work being completed in the space of only two weeks (the annual mineworkers' holiday). The engine is a 300 hp electric engine built by Metropolitan Vickers Ltd of Manchester and M.B. Wild and Co of Birmingham. Its electric motor drives through a reduction gearbox to the main driveshaft which passes between the rope drums.
Electrical power for the building is supplied via the railway sub-station at Springwell. The power is split to meet the electricity requirements of all the buildings in the Blackham's Hill area and also the Black Fell hauler whose supply has since been disconnected.
Black Fell Incline
Rope Haulage at Blackhams Hill
Springwell Gravity Incline
A short self acting incline between the Linz colliery and Linz Green station, not very far from the Bowes Railway.