Station Name: PONTELAND

[Source: Alan Young]


Date opened: 1.6.1905
Location: Immediately north of West Road (A696) close to junction with Darras Road. The railway crossed West Road on an over-bridge
Company on opening: North Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 17.6.1929
Date closed completely: 14.8.1967
Company on closing: London & North Eastern Railway
Present state:

Demolished, supermarket on site of the station and goods yard. The south side of the station site is a park.

County: Northumberland
OS Grid Ref: NZ163729
Date of visit: September 1974, August 2004 & 5.4.2009

Notes: The branch terminus, situated 6 miles 68ch from the junction at South Gosforth, possessed a single platform on the up side of the tracks and an extended version of the single-storey timber building found at the intermediate stations on the branch. A glazed verandah stretched for about two-thirds of the length and was decorated with two cross-gables. A low timber signal box stood at the southeast end of the platform. This was the busiest station on the branch issuing 32,084 tickets in 1911. The building survived into the 1960s: the last passenger train to arrive at Ponteland was the Five day North East Railtour on 29th September 1963. The station remained open for goods traffic until 14th August 1967 with a private siding remaining after that date but by the mid-1970s the station had been entirely removed.

Ponteland had the largest goods yard on the line which was sited on the west side of the station. Facilities in 1920 included five sidings and a reversing loop, water tower, cattle dock and a large brick goods shed.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PONTELAND AND DARRAS HALL BRANCH
(AND THE WALLRIDGE MINERAL RAILWAY)

The area of Northumberland lying immediately northwest of Newcastle was served by several colliery waggonways before 1900, but no passenger railways entered it. Under the terms of the Light Railways Act (1896) the North Eastern Railway promoted the Ponteland Light Railway branching from the Newcastle – Whitley Bay route at South Gosforth (then known as Gosforth).
Construction began in 1900. The 6¾ mile route was through gently undulating countryside beyond the built-up area of Newcastle, so earthworks were relatively light.

There were several level crossings over public roads, but major roads and mineral lines were crossed by bridges. Goods services began on 1 March 1905, and passenger services on 1 June. It was intended to electrify the route as an extension to the ‘Coast Circle’; however only the extreme east end of the line was electrified to provide access to the new Gosforth Car
Sheds from 1923. (Further electrification was delayed for over fifty years!) Operation of branch services was generally by Fletcher ‘BTP’ locomotives fitted with auto apparatus (based at Heaton Shed). Advertised as ‘steam auto-cars’ these push-and-pulls provided nine to ten services between South Gosforth and Ponteland on weekdays (four on Sundays) taking 20 minutes to complete the journey. By June 1920 the Sunday trains had been withdrawn.

In November 1908 the NER deposited plans with Parliament for a 1¼ mile extension to Darras Hall under the name of the Little Callerton Railway. Unlike the parent branch to Ponteland the route was not a Light Railway. The extension was to serve a residential area where development was just beginning. In 1907 Darras Hall Estate began when a group of Newcastle businessmen bought land southwest of Ponteland with the aim of creating a ‘garden city’ for professional and managerial residents. The railway gained Parliamentary approval in 1909, and the Estate entered into an Agreement with the NER on 18 October 1910 for railway access.

The single track was largely on an embankment, but there was sufficient space for the addition of a second track should traffic warrant it. Goods services to Darras Hall started on 27 September 1913 followed by passenger trains on 1 October. The trains operated between South Gosforth and Darras Hall with a reversal at Ponteland: a simple manoeuvre for the ‘auto-cars’. The Darras Hall extension was a financial failure. The estate grew slowly, and its loose grid of roads, with detached houses at a maximum density of six per acre, limited the number of potential passengers. By June 1920 the scanty provision of three trains per day (plus the need to change at South Gosforth) must have served as an additional disincentive to use the service. No industrial development was permitted at Darras Hall, save for the NER goods yard, so even goods traffic was restricted.

As for the original Ponteland branch, following a promising start, Newcastle Corporation buses (which also served Darras Hall and provided direct routes between Kenton, Gosforth and Newcastle) snatched the traffic from the trains. The introduction of Sentinel Steam Cars on the line, running through to Newcastle, failed to revive the traffic. Housing development
along the route was limited. So it was that the Ponteland and Darras Hall line was closed at such an early date. Ponteland enjoyed a passenger service for 24 years, and Darras Hall for only sixteen. Parcels traffic ceased to be handled on 5 January 1935, but goods traffic continued. From time to time the branch provided a serene retreat where the Royal Train could pass the night! Darras Hall closed to all traffic in 1954. In the 1960s redundant Coast Circle electric stock was stored at Ponteland and Callerton. Ponteland’s goods service ended in 1967 and the rails were lifted beyond Prestwick ICI explosives factory siding, north of Callerton. This facility closed on 6 March 1989. (A siding between Coxlodge and Kenton Bank serving Rowntrees closed on 28 July 1988.)

After a gap of over fifty years much of the Ponteland branch regained its passenger trains in 1981 when the route from South Gosforth to Bank Foot (Kenton) re-opened, and was finally electrified, as part of the Metro network. The service was extended to Newcastle Airport on 17 November 1991, which involved a very short branch from the Ponteland route. Former station sites at West Gosforth and Coxlodge were occupied by Regent Centre and Fawdon Metro stations respectively, while at Callerton Parkway and Bank Foot Metro stations were sited at the ‘Newcastle end’ of Callerton and Kenton Bank sites. Metro stations at Wansbeck Road (opened 1981) and Kingston Park (1985) were entirely new.

The eccentricity of the Darras Hall branch was compounded by its short-lived extension to Belsay Colliery, four miles SSW of Belsay village in the depths of the Northumbrian countryside. The colliery, which opened in 1923 to extract household coal, was operated by Kirkheaton Coal Company. (This firm’s nearby Kirheaton Colliery and Drift closed in 1924.) The workforce never reached a hundred, production was limited, and the colliery closed in 1930. For some of the colliery’s working life, an untimetabled passenger train service for miners was provided on the 7½-mile single-track route for the final mile between Belsay Colliery and a row of miners’ cottages at Wallridge (NZ059768). It is unlikely that platforms were built either at Belsay Colliery or Wallridge. Motive power was an ex-Glasgow & South Western Railway 0-6-0, and there were six trucks, two passenger coaches and a guard’s van. The line was known as the Wallridge Mineral Railway after the almost uninhabited parish where it terminated: the population in 1901 was two. In 1931 there were 37 inhabitants, and presumably all or most of these people occupied the miners’ cottages. The line was not shown on the Ordnance Survey One-inch Popular Edition map (published 1947) but its route appeared on the first Seventh Series Sheet 78 of 1953 as Track of old Railway.

Ticket from Michael Stewart

To see other stations on the Ponteland & Darras Hall branch click on the station name: West Gosforth, Coxlodge, Kenton Bank, Callerton, Darras Hall. See also Belsay Colliery on the Wallridge Mineral Railway


Ponteland Station seen from the goods yard before December 1915
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection



Ponteland Station in the early 20th Century
Copyright photo from Tony Harden collection



Ponteland Station and goods yard in 1963
Copyright photo from Stations UK


SLS/RCTS 5 day North East Railtour at Ponteland Station on 29th September 1963. This was the last passenger train to call at the station.
Copyright photo by HC Casserley


Ponteland Station in September 1967
Photo from the Sine Project

Ponteland Station seen from the goods yard in February 1968, three
months after closure to goods traffic.
Photo from the Sine Project

Looking north towards the site of Ponteland Station in March 2009
P
hoto by Ali Ford



 

 

 

[Source: Alan Young]



Last updated: Sunday, 29-Dec-2013 05:41:16 GMT
© 1998-2009 Disused Stations