Note: Towards the end of the 19th century terraced housing, some of it of good quality, spread around the railway east of Newcastle Town Moor between Jesmond and Gosforth. The North Eastern Railway opened West Jesmond station on 1 December 1900 to serve this newly urbanised area. Its single-storey station buildings were a restrained version of the fashionable Domestic Revival style. Red brick was used in their construction, also for the walls along the rear of the platforms, instead of the customary fence.
was a broad window. A small shop occupied much of the space between the central gable and the north pavilion. On the opposite platform a less elaborate building with waiting facilities was provided. A subway connected the platforms. Generous glazed ridged awnings (verandahs) protected each platform, and additional shelter was afforded by the glazed end-screens, typical of NER practice.
||The main building on the ‘up’ (east) platform had a lengthy frontage, its central highlight being a ridged gable rising above the general height of the roof, with ‘half-timbered’ decoration. At either end of the building were hipped-roofed pavilions. The entrance and booking hall were towards the southern end of the range, rather than under the central gable, where there
A signal box stood a few yards beyond the southern end of down platform. Four goods sidings were installed immediately south of the up platform, entered from the south; a 3-ton crane was provided. These facilities were closed on 14 August 1967.
West Jesmond was originally served by an irregular and infrequent steam service, but from 29 March 1904 frequent third-rail electric trains were introduced between Newcastle (New Bridge Street) and Benton, extended in stages via Tynemouth to reach Newcastle Central three months later; each weekday several trains between Newcastle and the Newbiggin branch also called at West Jesmond.
30-minute intervals: Newcastle Central – Monkseaton – New Bridge Street
30-minute intervals: Newcastle Central – Monkseaton (did not serve Benton)
30-minute intervals: New Bridge Street – Benton
30-minute intervals: Newcastle Central – Riverside – Tynemouth (did not serve Benton)
and an hourly service on Sundays. By the late-1930s this had increased in frequency to 20-minute intervals on weekdays and half-hourly on Sundays. On summer Sundays in the mid 1950s the same frequency was provided, with hourly Sunday trains in the winter. However from September 1964 trains ceased to call on ‘winter’ Sundays at West Jesmond and Jesmond stations.
|The Coast Circle route from Newcastle Central to Jesmond, with Manors (North) replacing New Bridge Street, was opened on 1 January 1909, but until 1917 the new link was used only by Newcastle Central – Benton trains. The summer 1920 timetable shows trains every half hour throughout the day on weekdays, with a more intensive rush hour service,
In the LNER era ‘mint imperial’ style electric lamps were installed, carried on swan-neck standards or suspended beneath the platform awnings. The company’s policy was to provide small nameplates to accompany the electric lamps, which they did at West Jesmond. The LNER also fitted running-in boards of a style believed to be unique to the ‘Coast Circle’ incorporating the company’s early diamond logo. In January 1948 the station became part of the nationalised British Railways North Eastern Region, then in January 1967, when the North Eastern Region was abolished it was transferred to the Eastern Region. The LNER nameboards were in place well into the British Railways era, being replaced with tangerine vitreous enamel boards in about 1960. LNER nameplates were retained until 1971; totem signs were never fitted. A surprising survival into the 1970s was a large ‘West Jesmond Station’ LNER wooden nameboard with raised lettering above the west entrance.
each hour did not call at the station. The station was looking distinctly shabby, and the new Tynerider branded services – the same old DMUs with jolly orange transfers added to them! - introduced in October 1970, whilst restoring the 20-minute interval service, did little to make the station more attractive. The awning on the down platform was dismantled c1971, destroying the symmetry of the buildings. In 1971 the inadequate LNER platform lighting was removed and tall, vandal-proof standards were installed. The following year black-and-white ‘corporate identity’ signage was added, and soon afterwards the tangerine running-in boards were removed. In the mid 1970s the up platform also lost its awning, but the booking hall and the roofing in the recess between the two pavilions continued to provide shelter.
||The familiar 1937 electric multiple units were eventually condemned as ‘life expired’ by British Rail, and phased out over a two-year period to be replaced with diesel multiple units; the final EMU ran on 17 June 1967. The diesel units provided a slower service, and the longstanding 20-minute frequency of trains was reduced to half-hourly intervals; an express service
Royal Assent was given in 1973 to the development of a rapid light transit Metro system for Tyneside. To enable work to proceed, on 23 January 1978 the line from Manors North (inclusive) through West Jesmond to West Monkseaton (exclusive) was closed. The platforms were shortened, but the station which reopened with Metro signage and electric units drawing their power from overhead wires was otherwise little altered. Although to those who remember the station in the 1960s and earlier it looks naked without the awnings, the buildings remain attractive and well maintained. The subway is still in use to connect the platforms, but a footbridge with ramp access has been added at the northern end of the platforms.
West Jesmond station served events on the Town Moor, such as the annual travelling fair (‘the hoppings’) each June and the Royal Show.
NER station. However in that year a new branch
was opened, following the route of the former Whitley Waggonway, extending from Hartley to Tynemouth. It should be noted that this included the stretch to what is now Monkseaton, which was to be known as the ‘Avenue Branch’, and that the line beyond to Tynemouth was half a mile inland of the present day Monkseaton – Tynemouth Metro line.
|BRIEF HISTORY OF BLYTH & TYNE RAILWAY (Newcastle [New Bridge Street] – Jesmond – Benton – Backworth)
The southern end of the Blyth & Tyne Railway has a complicated history. Until 1861 there was a single route from Blyth and Seghill onward through Prospect Hill to Percy Main, with a terminus adjacent to the
At the Tynemouth end the original terminus was quickly replaced with a new one on a short branch which curved south eastwards, and that in turn closed when its branch was extended to a third terminus, which adjoined the 1847 Tynemouth terminus of what had been the Newcastle & North Shields Railway.
In 1864 the Blyth & Tyne reached Newcastle, with a terminus at New Bridge Street. This was achieved by diverting trains onto a new line just south of Holywell, then through Backworth, Benton, and Jesmond. At Backworth a new line was opened to join the 1861 Whitley (Monkseaton) to Tynemouth route. Trains could now travel on the B&T from Newcastle (New Bridge Street) to Tynemouth, making the Holywell – Prospect Hill – Percy Main route, and the ‘Avenue Branch’ between Hartley and Whitley (Monkseaton) redundant. These two lines closed in June 1864 on the day when the Newcastle – Tynemouth service was inaugurated.
were replaced with a splendid new through station. This created the coastal section of the familiar Coast Circle and Metro route, although there were to be realignments at Whitley Bay in 1910 and Monkseaton in 1915 where new, larger stations were built.
||In 1874 the B&T was absorbed by the NER, and the opportunity was taken to reorganise the railway routes in the Monkseaton / Whitley / Tynemouth area. With the growth of housing and holidaymaking on the coast the ‘inland’ route from Monkseaton to North Shields was superseded in 1882 by one within sight of the sea, and the two formerly competing termini at Tynemouth
In response to the growth and electrification of street tram networks on North Tyneside the Coast Circle route via both Wallsend and Carville was electrified in 1904 on the third rail system, and the irregular and infrequent steam service was replaced with a frequent interval service. For almost six decades the basic pattern was three trains per hour in each direction, with extras in the rush hour.
In 1963 the Reshaping of British Railways (‘Beeching’) report made no reference to the main Coast Circle line, but the Riverside Branch, via Carville, was recommended for closure (which was eventually implemented in 1973). However on a visit to Tyneside shortly after the report’s publication Beeching made it clear that the Coast Circle line was a likely candidate for closure. In the mid 1960s the ageing electric multiple units, dating from 1937, were being allowed a few more minutes to complete their journeys, and the decision was made to replace them with diesel multiple units cascaded from other areas rather than with newer electric stock. In June 1967, shortly after the line became part of British Rail’s Eastern Region – the North Eastern having been abolished - the last EMUs ran, and the third rails were removed.
launched the vigorous Tynerider campaign to revitalise the line (including the Riverside branch) and the South Shields branch. Although the Riverside continued to have a sparse service at rush hours only, the Coast Circle’s 20-minutely service returned, with the new feature of trains in the early hours to bring revellers home from Newcastle city centre. Passenger numbers increased dramatically, and strengthened the case for further investment. The idea of incorporating the local railways into a rapid transit system was examined, and in 1973 Royal Assent was obtained to use the Coast Circle as the basis of such a network, which was to become the Tyne & Wear Metro.
|The service of three stopping trains per hour in each direction was replaced with a half-hourly service, plus one ‘express’ serving only the coastal stations, Wallsend and Manors; it is no surprise that custom was lost at the stations whose service was cut. However in October 1970 the tide turned, and the Eastern Region
The engineering work to bring about this transformation was ambitious, involving the driving of tunnels under central Newcastle and Gateshead and constructing a sixth bridge over the Tyne between these centres, so that the Metro could be separated from the ‘main line’ system. For some time between January 1978 and November 1982 all of the stations on the Coast Circle (except Tynemouth) were closed for conversion work to be done: this included West Jesmond, South Gosforth, Longbenton, Benton, and West Monkseaton on the former B&T Newcastle route, thus their inclusion in the list of Disused Stations. Backworth closed in 1977 and Manors North in 1978 and were not to reopen on the new Metro line (although Manors underground station replaced Manors North, and Northumberland Park was opened in 2005 immediately south-west of the site of Backworth).
||Almost all of the Newcastle – Backworth route remains as part of the Metro system. Only at the southern end has there been any significant change. A short distance north of the original Jesmond station the Metro route of 1980 curves to the south-west to enter the tunnel beneath central Newcastle and the new
Click here for a list of sources and a Blyth & Tyne bibliography
Tickets from Michael Stewart except 000 CJ Dean and 00766 & 13406 Alan Young. Street map from Ali Ford. Bradshaw from Nick Catford, Route map drawn by Alan Young.
To see other stations on the Blyth & Tyne Railway Newcastle - Backworth line click on the station name: Newcastle New Bridge Street, Manors North, Jesmond, Moor Edge, South Gosforth*, Longbenton*, Benton (1st site)*,
Benton (2nd site)*, Forest Hall, Benton Square and Backworth (2nd site).
* Station reopened as part of the Tyne & Wear metro. Three other Metro stations on this line are new sites and are not included. These are Palmersville, Northumberland Park and Ilford Road.