Saturday, 24 May 2014

Tyne & Wear Metro to Celebrate 175th Anniversary with Steam Trains

Tyne & Wear Metro and museum bosses have teamed up to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of suburban railways on Tyneside – among the oldest in the world.
June 2014 marks 175 years since the opening of a line which still forms part of the modern day Tyne and Wear Metro system – the Newcastle and North Shields Railway.
To celebrate the occasion on 1 June the Stephenson Railway Museum is due to run special steam trains from the little-used platforms at Percy Main as well as from the main museum, linking in with Metro services.
The family day will see historical re-enactors  dressed as figures from 1839 welcoming passengers to Percy Main and talking about early North East railway history, and souvenir tickets for those taking the steam train.
A brass band will also be playing at North Shields Metro station, the original terminus of the Newcastle and North Shields Railway, where a plaque is being unveiled on 1 June to mark the anniversary, before VIP guests travel on to the museum by Metro and steam train.
Huw Lewis, Head of Communications at Nexus, which owns and manages Metro, said:  “This was the earliest railway built first and foremost to carry people from emerging suburbs to the centre of a city – what we recognise now as a Metro system.
“North East England led the way in the development of the early railways and we are delighted to be marking this anniversary with events at North Shields and at the Stephenson Museum to help tell that story.”
Robin Gibson of the Stephenson Museum, said “Families can catch a Metro to Percy Main, then change to a heritage engine for a train ride to the museum at our station, as well as meeting some characters from history along the way.”
The museum will be selling souvenir tickets on the day for steam train rides, between 11am and 2:30pm on Sunday, 1 June.
The Stephenson Museum, on Middle Engine Lane, North Tyneside, is free to enter and contains a wealth of North East railway history.
Train rides along the line, which was used by Metro as its ‘test track’ in the 1970s, cost £3.50 for adults and £2.50 for concessions, with a family ticket £8.  Metro travel is not included.
Trains run from 11:30am then every hour until 2:30pm from the museum, and from 11:45am then every hour until 2:45pm from Percy Main (last return train departs Percy Main 1.45pm)
For more information on prices and times go to the what’s on section of the Tyne and Wear Museums website .
The Newcastle and North Shields Railway opened in June 1839 between a terminus in Carliol Square in the city centre and North Shields.
Metro still uses the same line between Chillingham Road station and North Shields, where the station remains on its original site, making it the oldest purpose-built suburban railway in the world.
Some elements of the original infrastructure, including the stone piers of the Howdon Viaduct over Willington Gut, remain visible today.
Nexus has recently renewed and modernised the route and refurbished stations along the whole route as part of the £389m Metro: all change modernisation programme, ensuring it will be in use for decades to come.
The same year saw the Brandling Junction railway open lines between Gateshead, Boldon, South Shields and Sunderland, parts of which also remain in use by Metro today.
Nexus, which owns and manages the Metro, is launching a new history website, this month, telling the 175-year story of the suburban railways in North East England.
Note: The Stephenson Museum will endeavour to run steam trains throughout the day but these cannot be guaranteed as they are heritage items and it may deem it necessary to substitute steam for another type of engine.