Railways and Railway Stations

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Looking south over the level crossing on Marine Avenue, the original Monkseaton Station buildings are situated to the right, and the signal box on the left is where the present Monkseaton Medical Centre is now sited. The houses on Osborne Gardens are hidden beyond and behind it.
Monkseaton Station

Monkseaton Railway Station (originally referred to as Whitley Station) was built in 1859.

The station buildings, platforms and tracks stood slightly to the north of the present Osborne Gardens, very close to where the new medical centre has recently been built.

By 1915 the old station was found to be inadequate and the railway tracks, including part of the 'Avenue Branch' line, were re-aligned and moved further west to where the present station was built at the junction with Norham Road. This development also incorporated the construction of the present road bridge leading from Front Street to Marine Avenue.

Hartley Avenue was laid out following the realignment of the railway, and shadowed the arc of the newly realigned 'Avenue Branch' line to Blyth (axed by Dr Richard Beeching in the 1960s). It was referred to as the 'Avenue Branch' because it crossed over the 'Avenue', just west of Seaton Delaval Hall prior to reaching Hartley Station, and hence the name of Hartley Avenue was derived from here. This former railway track is now a pathway and nature trail running behind the houses on the west side of Hartley Avenue.

Following demolition of the old Monkseaton station, discussions were held with the North Eastern Railway Company to purchase the land which was successfully acquired and laid out as a park, with facilities to include Tennis Courts and Bowling Greens. Councillor C.W. Souter of Whitley Council led these negotiations, and Souter Park was appropriately named in his honour.

The new Monkseaton Station became an important stop on the Newcastle-Coast loop line, with many facilities including left luggage, goods and parcel offices, a rail booking office, waiting rooms with seating and coal fires, as well as all the usual platform kiosks and facilities usually seen at larger stations.

By the 1920s and 1930s, thousands of holidaymakers and day trippers would flock to the coast from Newcastle and its suburbs, as it was just a short walk from Monkseaton Station down Marine Avenue to the seaside for those who wished to avoid Whitley Bay centre. By the end of the Second World War, Monkseaton Station was increasingly used by commuters travelling to and from Newcastle.

By 1980, the loop line and all associated stations were considered to be no longer viable to British Railways and so they were taken over to become part of the present Tyne & Wear Metro System.

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West Monkseaton Station

West Monkseaton Railway Station was built specifically to cater for the new housing that was being built nearby.

The station was constructed in just over a month, and opened to the public for the first time on 2nd March 1933. Both platforms and a majority of the station buildings were manufactured from concrete and wood, with the exterior being a good example of Art Deco design.

The station was built on the existing section of railway line adjacent to the bridge on Earsdon Road which was often referred to as 'Dickies Holm Bridge'. This was a narrow bridge crossing the railway lines on Earsdon Road which was widened in 1961 to accommodate the growing increase in road traffic.

West Monkseaton Station closed down on 10th September 1979 for eleven months whilst improvements were carried out for the new Metro system. The station reopened on 11th August 1980.

After the war, the potential earnings from coal were exploited by the government and, in the summer of 1948, open cast mining work commenced at West Monkseaton, adjacent to the Railway line.

The 120 foot deep site took in the area of land from the rear of Newsteads Farm buildings to Uplands, and extending northwest as far as the present Monkseaton Drive. After five years mining, the site had been exhausted and closed down in June 1953 for reclamation of the land. Part of Red House Farm Estate, including the present supermarket now occupies this site.

Looking onto the platforms of West Monkseaton Station in 1933 (image right), it is apparent that some of the houses on Brantwood Avenue have not yet been built.

In the distance, two parallel bridges crossed the railway lines towards Uplands, one of which was situated at the bottom of Brantwood Avenue and the other, just a few yards to the east on West Avenue. The Brantwood Avenue bridge was demolished in the early 1960s, but the second one on West Avenue still remains.

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BrierDene Station, 1930.
BrierDene Station

By 1910 the Tyneside Electric passenger service was well established.

Traffic to the coastal railway stations at Tynemouth, Cullercoats, Whitley and Monkseaton was steadily increasing and with rapid housing development taking place at these localities, the idea of building a new community at Seaton Sluice, halfway along the coast between Monkseaton and Blyth began to take shape.

The landowner, Lord Hastings was to convey 21 and-a-half acres of land to the railway company to allow for the construction of a new branch line which commenced in 1913, and it was estimated that work would be complete and the line ready for opening by November 1914.

The proposed line, known as the Collywell Bay Branch began from a spur on the existing Blyth and Tyne Avenue Branch (called BrierDene Junction) which was situated about one mile north of Monkseaton Station and situated near to the edge of the present Golf Course (close to the end of Woodburn Square). The line then curved east behind BrierDene Farm.

An intermediate station with a passing loop at BrierDene was built, in addition to which the Avenue Branch line, as far as BrierDene Junction, was to be changed from single to double track and electrified.

BrierDene Station was situated behind Whitley Bay Cemetery and Crematorium and accessed by a pathway on Blyth Road, diagonally opposite the present caravan site, the ruins of which are still present.

By 1914, construction of the branch line and stations was well under way; however at the outbreak of the First World War, work was suspended indefinitely. The work which had already been carried out at that time included the laying out of around 4 miles of track, along with all the necessary platforms, bridges and signal boxes at a total expenditure of 28,592.

Because the Collywell Bay line had never been fully completed and physically opened to rail traffic, it did not become a railway that was entitled to any wartime compensation from the government.

The scheme was reviewed in 1924 when it was estimated that it would cost over 50,000 to rehabilitate the branch, as a result of which, much of the the track and stations at BrierDene and Collywell Bay lay abandoned throughout the 1920s.

In 1930, Thomas Hornsby, the Divisional General Manager of the railway company (LNER) estimated that a half hourly passenger and goods service based on the carriage of 280 passengers per day at a fare of 3d each, would generate an income of less than 2,000 per year and concluded that combined with the high cost of reinstatement work, the line would not be economically viable. He therefore submitted a memorandum, proposing the abandonment of this branch. Accordingly, Lord Hastings released the LNER from their initial obligation to purchase the land, but was subject to removing rails and bridge superstructures, and leaving the fences on each side of the line intact. Because of the high cost of recovery of the stone platforms and buildings, these remained in situ, and all other necessary abandonment work had been undertaken by the end of 1932.

The route of the old line is still easily traceable for practically all of its length apart from the section near Collywell Bay, which has since disappeared under new housing development at Old Hartley.

The original embankment and path of the old railway is still clearly visible, part of which runs parallel to Blyth Road between Whitley Cemetery and Old Hartley.

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Monkseaton Railway Station Accident

Heavy lifting machinery completes removal of the wrecked 80 ton Goods Locomotive from the Platform of Monkseaton Station.
A railway accident of note occurred at Monkseaton Station at 9.10am on Saturday, 13th October, 1956 when a Goods train, consisting of a steam locomotive and coal tender, drawing a total of 22 wagons loaded with steel plates on the down line from the direction of West Monkseaton, was passing under Front Street Road Bridge.

As the fast moving locomotive approached the station, the bogie wheels jumped the tracks causing the engine and the first 5 of its wagons to derail and overturn. The ensuing impact caused the locomotive to impact with the end of the northern section of platform, tearing up huge coping stones, ripping up railway lines and demolishing a large signal gantry.

The driver was a Mr. Jack Stacey of Walkergate who was trapped in the resultant wreckage until his rescue was effected shortly afterwards. Mr Stacey lost consciousness after suffering a broken leg, cuts, bruises and burns from the steam box and, after being freed, was taken to Tynemouth Infirmary for treatment.

The remaining crew of the train, a fireman and a trainee driver, managed to escape uninjured, however the guard suffered minor injuries.

Passengers and commuters, who while innocently waiting for their usual service trains on the adjacent platforms witnessed the accident, were covered in steam, dust and debris as the huge engine shuddered to a halt nearby, but luckily no other injuries were caused.

It was only by good fortune that a passenger train which was due to arrive at Monkseaton at this time on the opposing (up) line, had been delayed at Tynemouth, otherwise the incident may have been much more serious had the train been running to schedule.

Emergency rescue and maintenance crews with heavy lifting gear were quickly called out from Gateshead and Darlington to clear the wreckage.

Railway track in both directions suffered significant damage and although salvage and removal work began later that day, it took many hours to clear the site and inspect the resulting damage. After a full assessment, it was confirmed that the damaged locomotive was beyond repair, and it took until after midnight the following day for the site to be cleared.

Major repair work to the damaged section of railway track and platform began on Monday 15th October and emergency bus links were set up to ferry passengers between Backworth and Whitley Bay stations whilst new track, foundations and ballast were laid.

An investigation which followed the incident, found that the cause of the derailment was due to a broken axle on the locomotive. No blame was attributable to the driver or crew.
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