Station Name: BLAYDON
Blaydon Station is still open but is included for completeness

[Source: Alan Young]

Date opened: 10.3.1835
Location: Immediately north of Tyne Street (A695)
Company on opening: Newcastle & Carlisle Railway
Date closed to passengers: Still open
Date closed completely: Still open
Company on closing: Still open
Present state: Still open
County: Durham
OS Grid Ref: NZ184635
Date of visit: September 1962, August 1972, April 1977, March 1978 & November 1996

Notes: The original station had a small, single-storey building, narrow platforms, and a primitive trainshed. In 1881 the Board of Health received a complaint about the inadequate facilities, prompting the NER to make improvements. In 1912 elegant new buildings were constructed. Most of the tall, single-storey structure was red brick. 97 yd glazed awnings of ridged cross-section covered much of the two platforms. They ended with glazed screens and were supported by iron columns and spandrels of a hooped design, as at West Jesmond (opened 1900). A covered footbridge linked the platforms. The lengthy exterior possessed restrained dignity. The lofty central section carried a pavilion roof. Its segmental-arched openings were separated by four sandstone pilasters that rose above the eaves and were capped by large ball-finials. A cross-gable window concealed and lit the footbridge, and was complemented by dormer-style ventilators on either side. The up platform had an unremarkable single-storey building with a pitched roof, flanked by high walls to support the awning.

Blaydon had extensive sidings, handling Newcastle-Carlisle derived traffic, also waggons from the East Coast main line via Derwenthaugh, the Derwent Valley, local collieries, and other businesses. An engine shed existed from early N&CR days, but a larger one opened in 1900 for goods and passenger locomotives. In 1930 there were 84 locomotives based there. Under BR, Shed 52C bade farewell to steam locomotives in March 1963, and closed two years later.

After de-staffing in 1969, the awnings were dismantled. Gas lighting was replaced with tall vandal-proof electric lamps, and the BR totems were removed. Until the mid-1970s each platform retained an LNER wooden nameboard, repainted in BR(NE) colours, with raised letters. Expanses of wall on the up platform, built purely to carry the awnings, looked

ungainly and attracted local graffiti artists. Vandals smashed what was breakable; an arsonist attempted to destroy what was left. In Off the Rails (1977), the companion booklet to Save Britain’s Heritage exhibition of endangered railway architecture, I contributed the ‘Demolished and Maltreated Stations’ chapter. I remarked that Blaydon was probably Britain’s least attractive station. Local television and newspapers seized upon this and insisted on action to rectify matters. BR’s response was, rather than repairing the buildings, to bulldoze them later that year and install ‘bus shelters’! From being a busy station issuing over quarter-of-a-million tickets, and at which almost every train called, Blaydon now has only a token service, currently the station is served by just three Hexham-bound trains and three Newcastle-bound trains on Mondays to Fridays. On Saturdays there are three Hexham and two Newcastle trains. There are no trains at all on Sundays. It is poorly sited to serve a town with excellent bus links, being isolated from the town centre by a main road; immediately to its north is the River Tyne, so there is no hinterland in that direction. Beeching recommended Blaydon station for closure, but it was reprieved. It remains to be seen how much longer it will survive.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NEWCASTLE - CARLISLE EAILWAY
The first few miles of the cross-country journey from Newcastle to Carlisle were thoroughly urban and industrial. To the left, the extensive buildings of Vickers-Armstrong’s Elswick engineering works hugged line, whilst to the right, immediately beyond the famous Scotswood Road, rows of impossibly steep streets of terraced flats plastered the slope. After Paradise Bridge, shortly before Scotswood station, the Victorian landscape gave way to a council estate, and a clear view of the river. Approaching Scotswood, the railway divided; the main pair of tracks diverged to the left through the station’s lower platforms, and crossed the Tyne on a six-span hogback girder bridge into Blaydon in County Durham. The lesser-known ‘North Wylam loop’ carried straight on through the higher-level platforms, and disappeared into a short tunnel. The Blaydon and North Wylam routes reunited before Prudhoe, and the remainder of the journey to Carlisle was through some of England’s finest rural landscapes.

The Newcastle (or, more accurately, Gateshead) to Carlisle line was the first to cross the breadth of England from the east to the west coast. Horse-drawn goods trains commenced between Blaydon and Hexham in late-1834, and passenger services on 9 March 1835. Newcastle passengers were conveyed to and from Blaydon by horse-omnibus or boat. Steam locomotives hauled passenger trains from the opening day. On 11 June 1835 a 1¼ mile extension opened eastwards to Derwenthaugh, followed by 7½ miles from Hexham to Haydon Bridge on 28 June. Carlisle to Blenkinsopp Colliery, near Haltwhistle (20 miles), opened on 19 July 1836. On 1 March 1837 trains were introduced on the 2½ miles from Derwenthaugh to Redheugh (Gateshead), passengers being ferried by steamboat across the Tyne to a ‘station’ in Newcastle at No. 66 The Close, where the later High Level Bridge crossed the river. (The Close was one of a scarce breed of rail-less stations in Britain, others being Dartmouth and Hull Corporation Pier.)

The omnibus service from Blaydon to Newcastle continued; its terminus in Newcastle was at an office at 50 Westgate Road. The gap between Blenkinsopp and Haydon Bridge was eventually completed, allowing directors to travel between Redheugh and Carlisle (London Road) on 15 June 1838. The formal opening was on 18 June. This event was less than
successful; heavy rain drenched the passengers, and many were left shaken, and some injured, by two collisions. 

N&CR rails reached Newcastle via a three-mile route including a ‘temporary’ Tyne bridge at Scotswood (which was eventually replaced with the present structure in 1870). Formal opening to a station at Railway Street, close to the Shot Tower, took place on 21 May 1839; regular services began on 21 October. The new Forth terminus, replacing that at Railway Street, opened on 1 March 1847. From 1 January 1851 the company used Newcastle Central, shared with the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway. Although access to Carlisle Citadel had yet to be achieved, the 60½-mile route was complete.

The Newcastle & Carlisle was absorbed into the North Eastern Railway empire in July 1862. Its eccentric arrangement of right-hand running was discontinued after the re-signalling of the route for the standard left-hand operation in 1863-4.

In the 1960s the transformation of the townscape surrounding the railway between Newcastle and Blaydon began. Many of the terraces of two-storey Tyneside flats were demolished and high-rise blocks took their place, and more recently the Elswick works site has been all but cleared and redeveloped as a business park.

On 4 October 1982 passenger services ceased to use the Newcastle – Scotswood – Blaydon route. Trains were diverted from Newcastle West Junction over King Edward Bridge, then via Norwood Junction and Dunston to Blaydon. This alteration saved expenditure on maintaining Scotswood Bridge, and on points and crossings renewals at Blaydon and Newcastle West
Junction. Tracks were removed from Scotswood Bridge and eastward beyond Elswick, leaving only a one-mile siding from Newcastle. The diversion added four minutes to journey times. On the new route the intermediate station at Dunston (closed 1926) was reopened in 1984, but for some years has enjoyed only a token service. The MetroCentre is adjacent to this route, and its station (opened in 1987) provides additional passenger traffic. Between Elswick and Scotswood the track is now a cycleway and footpath known as Hadrian's Wall Path, part of an 84 mile national trail.

Tickets from Michael Stewart

Sources:

To see other stations on the Newcastle - Blaydon click on the station name: Newcastle (N & C 1st site), Newcastle (N & C 2nd site), Elswick, Scotswood Works Halt & Scotswood


Blaydon Station looking east in c.1905, before the station was rebuilt
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection



Blaydon Station looking west in c.1910, after rebuilding.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Blaydon Station looking east in April 1977
P
hoto by Alan Young

Blaydon Station looking east in March 1978
P
hoto by Alan Young

Blaydon Station looking west in April 2007
Photo by Steve McShane reproduced from Wikipedia under Creative Commons Licence

 

 

 

[Source: Alan Young]


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