Station Name: MILLFIELD (2nd site)
|Company on opening:||North Eastern Railway|
|Date closed to passengers:||
|Date closed completely:||Goods facilities retained until at least 1978|
|Company on closing:||
British Railways (North Eastern Region)
|County:||Durham (now Tyne & Wear)|
|OS Grid Ref:||NZ385571|
|Date of visit:||20.6.2013|
Notes: Between 1876 and 1903 the North Eastern Railway built (or rebuilt) at least 14 of its minor stations to feature overtrack buildings; almost all of these were in Northumberland and Durham, and Millfield was one of them. The station was probably rebuilt in 1890 to provide enlarged booking facilities at what was a busy station - in 1911 87,469 tickets were issued - and ease of access for passengers directly from Hylton Road bridge. The new station was immediately north-west of its predecessor. The earlier station was to lose its platforms, but the station building survived until at least the late 1960s. From the austere brick-built overtrack structure ramps descended to both platforms, and shelters were placed, facing each other, a little to the north-west of the ramp ends. Immediately north-east of the down platform was a siding serving a coal depot; however the bulk of the goods facilities remained south-east of Hylton Road, south of the earlier station, where (as shown on an OS plan of 1919) there were seven sidings and a crane (five-ton) on the down side of the passenger tracks. NER records of 1913 state that flour and bran, ale and ale empties and glass were the principal goods handled. The 1904 RCH Hand-book of stations notes that nearby sidings served Bishopwearmouth Steam Mills; Chapman’s Steam Bakery; Dowson’s Slate Yard; Greener’s Glass Works; Jobling’s Cask Yard; Millfield Landsale; and West End Landsale Depôts.
From the late nineteenth century road trams began to compete with the railways, and a tram route followed Hylton Road past the entrance to Millfield station. From 1900 Sunderland’s tram network was electrified. As on Tyneside and in numerous other urban areas the cheap and frequent trams services, and later motor buses, enticed passengers from ‘inner city’ railway stations: Millfield was such a station. Whereas on Tyneside the suburban routes north of the river were electrified by the NER in 1904 (followed much later by the South Shields route by the LNER in 1938) to hold their own against the trams, this was not attempted in Sunderland until the arrival of Metro trams in 2002. On Tyneside the regularity and frequency of suburban trains was also enhanced, but the commuter line train service between Sunderland and Durham changed little between 1896 and 1920.
In 1923 at the Grouping of Britain’s railways the NER lines, and thus Millfield station, were allocated to the London & North Eastern Railway. At nationalisation in January 1948 the former LNER lines and stations in north-east England were placed within the North Eastern Region of British Railways. BR showed little inclination to modernise the station, which retained gas lighting. This is no surprise as use of the station had declined substantially with only 9,005 tickets issued in 1951; at the neighbouring station of Pallion 15,641 tickets were booked, and 54,250 at Hylton.
As a result of declining custom at Millfield the station closed to passengers on 2 May 1955, however its goods facilities remained in use. The line from Pallion, through Millfield to Hendon (Sunderland), closed to goods traffic on 27 November 1984. It is not known whether this was when Millfield station ceased to handle goods, or whether it was at an earlier date. The second passenger station fell derelict after closure, but the overtrack building survived until demolition in October 1975, and the supporting structure was dismantled in February 1978; the platforms were still standing in 1987.
As part of the Sunderland extension of the Tyneside Metro tracks were re-laid between Sunderland and South Hylton, some on a new alignment. A (third) station is provided at Millfield on the site of the first, and it opened to passengers on 31 March 2002.
From 1857 Leamside station enjoyed some importance as the de facto junction where trains to and from Sunderland and Durham connected with the services on London Kings Cross – Newcastle – Edinburgh main line. Fencehouses or Penshaw could equally have been awarded this status, but Leamside station, in its remote rural surroundings, was rebuilt with an island platform and bays at each end to accommodate the connecting services and allow convenient interchange by passengers. Its importance was short-lived and was suddenly removed when the new main line route between Ferryhill and Newcastle via Durham opened in 1872. Leamside station was now an extravagance, with little local population to serve; conversely the splendid Durham viaduct, originally serving only the Leamside – Bishop Auckland branch, was now a prominent feature of the main line providing a vantage point from which millions of passengers would be able to admire Durham and its cathedral.
As with most lines in northern County Durham the Sunderland – Durham route carried large quantities of goods and mineral traffic, notably coal. Several collieries were directly linked to the line, and there were branches into shipyards and Deptford staiths on the Wear as well as to the Hudson, Henson and South docks on the coast.
Passenger services on the Sunderland – Durham line remained frequent. However from the 1920s motor buses began to provide a more intensive service and linked the numerous mining villages and towns in north-east Durham. The ‘Old Main Line’ south of Leamside lost its passenger services in 1941. On the Sunderland – Durham route, apart from the very early loss of Frankland station, between Leamside and Durham, in 1877, casualties began with Leamside in 1953, followed by Millfield in inner Sunderland in 1955. Diesel multiple units replaced steam haulage on the route during 1957.
The author was blissfully unaware of this development, and alighted from a Newcastle train at Durham on 15 May to catch the Sunderland train, only to be informed that the last one had gone! He decided to travel on to Darlington and Middleton-in-Teesdale instead – which was still open.
Goods services ceased between Leamside (Auckland Junction) and Durham (Newton Hall Junction) and at Finchale siding (Frankland) on 22 October 1964. The tracks into the former Fawcett Street terminus in Sunderland, which had continued as a goods facility reached from the Durham line, were severed on 3 October 1965. Goods services were retained between Penshaw and Sunderland until 21 August 1967 when they were discontinued west of Hylton Quarry sidings. In 1971 the line from Pallion to Ford paper works at Hylton was singled and ceased to be signalled when the factory closed, but Dolomite from Hylton Quarry continued to be carried until 1976 when the line was cut back to Pallion; it was officially taken out of use on 20 November 1976. The remainder of the line to Hendon, including Deptford Johnson Siding closed to goods on 27 November 1984. The section of the ‘Old Main Line’ which the Sunderland – Durham services shared between Penshaw Junction and Auckland Junction continued in goods use for some years more, but was ‘mothballed’ in 1991 and closed in 2012.
To see other stations on the Old Main Line click on the station name: Felling 2nd, Felling 3rd , Felling 1st, Pelaw 1st, Pelaw 3rd, Pelaw 4th , Pelaw 2nd, Usworth, Washington 2nd, Washington 1st, Penshaw 1st, Penshaw 2nd, Fencehouses, Rainton, Rainton Meadows (on branch), Leamside 1st, Leamside 2nd, Belmont Junction, Durham Gilesgate (on branch), Sherburn Colliery, Shincliffe & Ferryhill
See also Sunderland and Durham (via Leamside):
|Last updated: Sunday, 21-May-2017 14:41:06 BST||
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