Station Name: LONGHIRST

[Source: Alan Young]


Date opened: 1.7.1847
Location: South of level crossing on lane about one mile east of Longhirst village
Company on opening: Newcastle & Berwick Railway
Date closed to passengers: 29.10.1951
Date closed completely: 10.8.1964
Company on closing: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Present state: Station building is in residential use. Base of signal box used as a relay room. Platforms demolished. The goods yard is occupied by D.A Johnstone Plant Hire Ltd.
County: Northumberland
OS Grid Ref: NZ223895
Date of visit: September1972 & April 1977

Notes: This station opened with the line on 1 July 1847 and, despite its rural location with limited local population to enjoy it, a fine sandstone ashlar building was provided, and it was one of the more expensive of the minor stations, costing £1,281 to build; by comparison Stannington (Netherton) cost £1,200, and Killingworth £1,129, whilst Warkworth was a more ambitious outlay at £1,649.

Standing on the down platform the structure contained two distinct houses, one for the stationmaster and the other for the porter, linked by a single-storey office range with an enclosed verandah in front. The northern section projected towards the platform and had a two-storey bay. The usual decorative stone ball finials were in evidence on the gables. The up platform had a more modest waiting shed with a pent roof, and it was also enlivened with ball finials. Two goods sidings were located south of the station, east of the tracks with trailing junctions from the up line; one of them served a lime depot. A further siding, added by 1897, was also south of the passenger platforms and branched northwards from the down track. The signal box was erected in 1873.

In May 1849 Reid’s Monthly Time Table showed the following service:


Up trains: weekdays

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

9.11am

Newcastle

7.45am

Berwick

12.41pm

Newcastle

2.18pm

Berwick

7.23pm

Newcastle

4.34pm

Berwick

 

 

7.33pm

Berwick

Up trains: Sunday

Destination

Down trains: Sunday

Destination

9.00am

Newcastle

8.04am

Berwick

7.16pm

Newcastle

6.54pm

Berwick

The East Coast main line through Northumberland was not seen primarily as catering for local needs and its route sought gentle gradients rather than centres of population; consequently many of the roadside stations were inconveniently sited for the settlements that they claimed to serve. Longhirst was no exception, the small village being a mile west of the station. However by the 1860s a colliery was operating a short distance south of the station with some miners’ terraced cottages close by. The colliery’s output was limited, and by the 1920s some of the cottages had been demolished. The North Eastern Railway timetable, below, for October 1912 shows a generous, though irregular service:

Up trains: weekdays

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.45am

Newcastle

9.04am

Beal

8.24am

Morpeth

11.24am

Alnwick

9.16am#

Newcastle

1.18pm (Saturday only)

Amble

11.11am

Newcastle

2.32pm

Alnwick

12.44pm (Sat only)

Morpeth

3.22pm (Saturday only)

Alnwick

3.31pm

Newcastle

5.25pm

Alnmouth

5.25pm (Saturday only)

Morpeth

7.33pm

Alnwick

7.29pm

Newcastle

9.32pm

Alnwick

9.16pm

Morpeth

(10.16pm: Sat only)

Terminates here

Up trains: Sunday

Destination

Down trains: Sunday

Destination

8.08am

Newcastle

8.57am

Berwick

7.46pm

Newcastle

7.32pm

Berwick

# signifies a limited-stop service

The Railway Clearing House Handbook of 1904 noted that Longhirst station was equipped with a one-ton capacity crane and that the normal range of goods traffic could be handled: this included furniture vans, carriages, portable engines and machines on wheels; livestock; horse boxes and prize cattle vans; and carriages by passenger train. Ashington Junction and Longhirst Hall Colliery are also recorded under the Longhirst station entry. In 1911 the station served a local population of 1,022 and 11,083 tickets were issued. Goods traffic two years later was principally barley and livestock, and coal would also be dispatched by the nearby pit.

At the ‘Grouping’ in 1923 Longhirst came under London & North Eastern Railway administration, and little changed at the station. Oil lighting was retained, but the company’s wooden running-in nameboards with relief lettering were installed. The winter 1937-38 LNER timetable (below) shows that the frequency of train departures had decreased markedly since NER days. The local population would have declined with the run-down of the nearby colliery and its closure in 1934. (click here to see surviving colliery buildings)

Up trains: weekdays

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.44am

Newcastle

6.59am

Alnwick

9.09am#

Newcastle

9.10am

Beal

11.24am

Newcastle

10.58am

Alnwick

3.11pm

Newcastle

2.28pm

Alnwick

6.53pm

Newcastle

9.51pm (Saturday only)
1021pm (Sat excepted)

Alnwick                            Berwick

Up trains: Sunday

Destination

Down train: Sunday

Destination

7.56am

Newcastle

8.57am

Berwick

7.19pm

Newcastle

-

-

# signifies a limited stop service

Longhirst was administered by British Railways’ North Eastern Region from January 1948, but the station’s passenger traffic had diminished to the point that closure was inevitable, and this took place on 29 October 1951. The final timetable, effective from 10 September consisted of one daily departure to Newcastle, at 10.59am on weekdays and 6.01pm on Sunday, and three weekday down departures at 8.15am (to Berwick) and at 2.10 and 10.54 pm (to Alnwick).



The platforms were demolished in March 1957 but the station continued to handle goods traffic until 10 August 1964. The up side waiting shelter has gone, but the main station building is in use as semi-detached residences and can still be admired from passing trains. The level crossing gates were replaced with barriers in October 1975. The signal box was reduced to a gate box, released by Morpeth, in January 1977 and it closed in January 1979, its base being retained as a relay room. In April 2015 the station building was for sale with a guide price of £350,000.

Click here for a brief history of the East Coast Main Line
in Northumberland.

Route maps drawn by Alan Young. Tickets from Michael Stewart

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  • Addyman, John F (Editor) A history of the Newcastle & Berwick Railway (North Eastern Railway Association, 2011) – especially Chapter 5 ‘The buildings’ by Bill Fawcett
  • Biddle, Gordon Victorian stations (David & Charles, 1973)
  • Biddle, Gordon Britain’s historic railway buildings (Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • Fawcett, Bill A history of North Eastern Railway architecture Vol 1: The Pioneers (North Eastern Railway Association 2001)
  • Young, Alan Railways in Northumberland (Martin Bairstow, 2003)
  • Quick, Michael   Railway passenger stations in Great Britain: a chronology (RCTS 2009)
  • Clinker, C R   Clinker’s register of closed passenger stations and goods depots  (Avon Anglia 1978)

See other ECML stations :Tweedmouth, Scremerston, Goswick, Beal, Smeafield, Crag Mill, Belford, Lucker,
Newham, Fallodon,
Little Mill, Christon Bank, Longhougthton, Lesbury, Warkworth, Ashington Colliery Junction, Morpeth, Stannington, Plessey, Annitsford (1st), Annitsford (2nd),, Killingworth, Forest Hall, Heaton (2nd), Heaton (1st), Durham, Croft Spa, Eryholme, Otterington, Alne & Tollerton


Longhirst Station Gallery 1: c1906 - September 1972



Longhirst station looking north from the up platform c1906. The stately ‘Tudorbethan’ Newcastle & Berwick station building is on the down platform. Its structure – in effect semidetached houses – is apparent in this view.  A recessed sheltered area for passengers is provided between the gables of the two houses. The pent-roofed stone waiting shed is seen on the up platform, and the goods shed is beyond; both complement the architecture of the station building. The NER signal box, constructed in 1873, is on the far side of the level crossing, east of the tracks.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection




1859 1:10,560 OS map. The station’s isolated position can be appreciated. A siding with a loop on the up (east) side entered from the south leads through the goods shed, which is unnamed but identified on a later map. A further siding leads to the lime depot, and another to a goods dock. The signal box has not yet been constructed.


1897 1:2,500 OS map. This new revision of the map includes Longhirst Colliery a short distance south of the station, three long terraces of miners’ cottages and a Primitive Methodist chapel and hall. A pair of semidetached cottages for railway workers has appeared on the road just west of the level crossing. Two further sidings have been added on the down (west) side of the station, entered from the south and connected to the colliery sidings. The goods shed and a weighbridge and office (WM) have been named: this was not the case on the 1859 map. The signal box, constructed in 1873, is now shown
north of the level crossing.


1922 1:2,500 OS map. The colliery buildings have been demolished with only old coal shafts, spoil heaps and the name of the settlement as evidence of the mine’s short existence. Durham Mining Museum website gives 1934 as the official date of closure. The southern terrace of cottages has been demolished but the garden boundaries of the former cottages remain. One of the terraces is now shown as ‘Aged Miners’ Home’. The siding to the west of the station has been removed, but a long siding which formerly extended to the colliery remains in place


1958 1: 2,500 OS map. The station closed to passengers in 1951 and it is no longer named, but goods traffic is still handled. The surviving terraces of colliery cottages are all identified as
‘Aged Mineworkers’ Homes’. Only the longer terrace now survives (Straker Terrace); the shorter terrace at right angles has been demolished.

In 1919 No. 732 hurtles through Longhirst station with a southbound express. This photograph of indifferent quality is included because the substantial waiting shelter on the up platform is shown to advantage, and the goods shed can be seen beyond it; this handsome structure complements the station building on the down platform.
Photo by J Watson


In 1919 No.723 hauls a southbound goods train through Longhirst. The NER running-in nameboard (cream letters on a terra cotta field) is prominent as is the signal box, also of NER design. The Worsdell-designed 4-4-0 was built at Gateshead works in November 1906. In LNER ownership it was renumbered 2377 and it still carried this number when it was withdrawn by BR(NE) from 52D, Tweedmouth shed, on 31 May 1949. The loco was cut up at British Railways’ Darlington works (North Road) the following month.
Photo from John Mann collection

Longhirst station looking south from the up platform on 14 May 1925 at 11.40am as a down express hauled by a D16/3, 4-4-0 loco  passes through. On the opposite platform the ‘Tudorbethan’ architecture of the dignified Newcastle & Berwick Railway building of 1847 can be admired, built on a grand scale for a station of limited importance. At this time two verandahs are provided to shelter passengers, one clasped between the gabled sections of the building facing the platform , and another on the northern elevation. The waiting shelter on the up platform complements the main building. The locomotive was built at the Great Eastern Railway’s Stratford works in June 1909, originally being numbered 1820. Under LNER ownership it was successively known as 8820 and 2571. In BR days the loco was renumbered 62571 and it continued in service until January 1959 when it was withdrawn from 40A, Lincoln shed. It returned to its birthplace at Stratford works to be cut up the following month.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection


The station building at Longhirst in April 1977. Despite serving a modest village a mile distant and a scattering of farmsteads, a structure of generous proportions was built. Attention was given to architectural detail on all elevations of the building, and the collection of self-assured gables topped by ball finials will be noted. The porch, to the right, with its fancy bargeboard is particularly charming. On the platform elevation the formerly open verandah has been enclosed.
Photo by Alan Young

Click here for Longhirst Station Gallery 2:
September 1978 - August 2010



 

 

 

[Source: Alan Young]




Last updated: Sunday, 21-May-2017 13:34:25 BST
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