Station Name: SUNDERLAND FAWCETT STREET
|Company on opening:||York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway|
|Date closed to passengers:||
|Date closed completely:||4.8.1879|
|Company on closing:||
North Eastern Railway
|Present state:||Although the station has been demolished the entrance and gate posts survive. A council blue commemorative plaque is mounted on wall by the entrance.|
|County:||Durham (now Tyne & Wear)|
|OS Grid Ref:||NZ397566|
|Date of visit:||16.5.2013|
Notes: This station was the eastern terminus of the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway’s route from Leamside and Penshaw. A year after it opened, in 1854 the line became part of the North Eastern Railway (NER) system, as did the route of the former Brandling Junction Railway from Gateshead to its Sunderland terminus at Monkwearmouth – a remarkable edifice built in the manner of a Grecian temple. Although the NER decided not to spend lavishly on the building at the recently-opened Fawcett Street terminus it was provided with a handsome classically-inspired single-storey brick building, with sandstone quoins and decorative detail. Bill Fawcett (2003) refers to the seven-bay entrance front with moulded architraves to the windows, with cills borne on shaped brackets, the centre three bays breaking forward slightly and featuring an entrance with a well-proportioned Tuscan doorcase; the whole was topped by a well-detailed cornice with a plain stone frieze below, running round the entire building. Fawcett considers the platform frontage to be a misfit, ‘as if designed for a trainshed which did not materialise. A pair of wings thrust forward and framed a modest covered area. ‘Alongside the fine cornice and quoins were plain window openings with visually inappropriate stone lintels; later this front was extended at either end in connection with providing a platform shed, by brick screen walls terminating in rusticated stone piers.’
Eventually Sunderland was to be provided with a single principal station in the town (now city) centre. This enterprise included a new bridge over the River Wear and cut-and-cover tunnelling. Although the former terminus at Monkwearmouth was retained, in Biddle’s (1973) words, ‘it became a mere suburban station, stranded like some handsome ship in a breaker’s yard’. The Fawcett Street terminus closed on 4 August 1879 when the through station, Sunderland Central replaced it, and its building was converted into housing. After about a century in this new role Fawcett Street station building was demolished.
Despite its name the Durham & Sunderland Railway (D&S) – not via Leamside – never did reach Durham City. Its route from South Dock, Sunderland, extended through Murton to Haswell (where the Hartlepool Dock & Railway Company already had a terminus) which opened in 1836, with a branch from Murton through Hetton, Pittington and Sherburn House to Shincliffe, two miles south-east of the Durham City centre, which opened in 1839. The North Eastern Railway eventually diverted the line from Shincliffe to terminate in Durham at Elvet station in 1893.
In an Act of 27 July 1846 the Newcastle & Darlington Junction Railway (see ‘Old Main Line’ history) was authorised to build a line from Pensher (later known as Penshaw) to join the D&S Railway at Sunderland. The line was known as the Painshaw Branch (another variation on the spelling of Penshaw). From Sunderland as far as Penshaw the line followed the River Wear valley but its route was generally some distance from the river to avoid a meander near Hylton and to serve the communities which were growing south of the river. The line opened on 20 February 1852 for goods traffic and 1 June 1853 for passengers. The terminus in Sunderland was Fawcett Street station, which opened on the same day on the southern edge of the developing commercial centre of the town.
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.
The 1863 Bradshaw (scroll up) refers to Sunderland Fawcett Street although it isn't named as such.. This 1887 Bradshaw does name Fawcett Street although it was closed in 1879 and trains were running into
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: Friday, 26-May-2017 10:06:40 BST||
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