The Branch Line Society

Guest



The South Gosforth Avoider,
Sunday 24th February 2019

Report by Phil Logie

We again found ourselves waiting at South Gosforth stop early on a Sunday morning in February. To be fair it wasn't that early and not as early as the Stewards had reported for duty, but earlier than I would normally be out and about on a Sunday morning! There was a slight difference to last year as despite arriving at the same time, 08.17, we were on the opposite platform. There were already a significant number for our tour, due at 08.41. The 08.32 Metro to South Hylton swelled the numbers further, delivering those who took advantage of the free parking at, and trip from, Regent Centre.


     



South Gosforth Avoider historical map
[© Dave Cromarty 2019]




South Gosforth Avoider marked up updated track plan with Howdon Depot and the old/new South Shields stops
[© Martyn Brailsford 2019]




Window decal. The decals are produced for our principal tours, extra copies are sold in aid of the good cause and quite a few members now collector them.
[© Amy Nash 2019]


Having being helpfully advised of the carriage order, 'A' leading from South Gosforth with 'D' at the rear, participants gathered on the appropriate part of the platform, estimating where the doors would stop. There was a subtle clue as to where this would be, as the more observant may have noticed...

Shortly our tour train (4030 & 4085) appeared from the Regent Centre direction. Pelaw Siding No1 was the first rare track, so with everyone on board, we left via Ilford Road and West Jesmond. Then the Manors Spur was noted going off left which we were booked to cover later in the day, but in the opposite direction to last year to complete the middle passing loop. Through Jesmond and the City Centre the tour continued over the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge above the Tyne, back underground through Gateshead and on to Heworth where we stopped to allow some 'passengers in excess of capacity' to alight. I was intrigued to see the destination display there while we were stopped showed 'Pelaw Special Branch Train'. Was this a hint that the force was with us?

The excess passengers had boarded at South Gosforth after noticing a Facebook posting and incorrectly assumed they could just turn up on the day. They didn't appreciate that the tour was already fully booked, or that they would have to pay even, but they did get the bonus of leaving the train by the driver's door. They weren't the only ones to benefit from this rare cabbing opportunity during the day... After reversing in Pelaw Siding No1 we ran to Haymarket P2, reversed, and used the trailing crossover towards Monument then it was back to Pelaw this time for Pelaw Siding No2. With our reversal complete we headed for a coast towards the Coast [c2C?]. Following the outward route back to South Gosforth the train took the curve towards Longbenton with South Gosforth Depot on the left. There were a few longing glances at the South Gosforth Avoiding Line which we were scheduled to traverse later in the day. Fortunately, the points issue had been resolved since our trip 12 months earlier and the line was in use again. Passing Longbenton and reaching line speed the driver announced we would attempt to coast to the Coast - a recognised T&W Metro 'challenge'.We didn't quite make it all the way to Whitley Bay, with power reapplied in the Monkseaton area.

At Whitley Bay a craft market was in progress and shortly after Cullercoats the North Sea came into view on the left, before passing through Tynemouth where the regular Sunday market was in full swing. There is little trace of where the branch from the N&BR station (CP 3 Jul 1882; CG 10 Sep 1979 - then a domestic coal depot) trailed in left after Tynemouth, the cutting had been filled in and built over. However, I recall seeing a Class 31 loco waiting to leave the yard with a coal train while I was travelling to visit my Grandmother in Percy Main during the early 1970s. [On Sat 31 Mar 1979 your now Treasurer & Editor did it on 31406 including the former station platform then on to North Shields Coal Depot.]


Early morning at Tynemouth Coal Depot - the former passenger terminus platform remains are upper centre, straight ahead.
[© Ian Mortimer 1979]




A rather grubby 31406 turned up with loaded coal wagons from Tyne Yard to shunt the sidings.
[© Ian Mortimer 1979]




1:25,000 map (1953). Tynemouth (1882) through station is top right - now the Metro stop. The previous passenger terminus, latterly a coal depot, is below it indicated by the bright green spot. North Shields station (now the Metro stop) is bottom left, the former coal depot here is indicated by the pink spot - this is now the T&W Metro Hylton Street Permanent Way Depot (non-electrified).




The Tynemouth Coal Depot (behind the photographer) branch connection with a Newcastle to Newcastle DMU (anticlockwise) on the curve between North Shields and Tynemouth (to the right) stations. The substantial overbridge on the right carries the main road shown on the map.
[© Ian Mortimer 1979]




As well as shunting Tynemouth Coal Depot the Class 31 took your now Treasurer and Editor into North Shields Coal Depot (ABOVE). This had never been a passenger station, but was still interesting to do and little did they know that it would become the site of the T&W Metro Hylton Street P'Way Depot.
[© Ian Mortimer 1979]




Information is thanks to Jim Sellens.
[© Jim Sellens 2019]


Fast forward 40 years … at North Shields P2 on 24 Feb 2019 a familiar face was on the platform as our tour stopped. It was one of our participants who had decided to avail himself of a lie in and forego the excitement of Pelaw Sidings and the Haymarket crossover [tut tut]. Attracting the driver's attention while we were stopped waiting to enter Bagnall's Siding, he was given permission to board through the driver's door. With the route set for the facing crossover to Bagnall's Siding (also known as Preston Refuge Siding - don't ask) we ran in. I wondered if this was the first passenger carrying at the siding? This was the highlight of the day for one member as it is at the end of the street where he lives. Pleasing the bidirectionalists we took the crossover in the other direction to North Shields bay to reverse again before heading to Manors. This bay used to be the turnback for the 'Blue Line' service to St James. It can no longer be used by service trains as a building has been constructed very close to the edge.

Bagnall's Siding is for trains coming out of the non-electrified Hylton Street P'Way Depot, usually 'Top & Tail' they reverse beyond the junction on the 'Out Loop', and then set back into North Shields Bay. Reversing again they take the facing crossover into Bagnall's Siding to reverse for the third time then can go via the coast round to South Gosforth Depot.

The tour ran via Percy Main with, just after, the North Tyneside Steam Railway below (should their station be Percy Minor?). This runs north to their Middle Engine Lane site, originally part of the line to Tyne Improvement Commissions' Quay - quite a mouthful - passenger station (CP 4 May 1970). Just after was the facing junction (left) for the double track Riverside loop, no longer visible. It had a very sparse service SSuX and CP 23 Jul 1973, but I was fortunate to travel on it once, part of a journey from Newcastle towards North Shields, after a great deal of pleading to my mother. I think she eventually gave in to keep me quiet! Back in 2019, just before Howdon on the left is the site for the future temporary Metro Depot with a trailing connection; we paused at the stop for the crossing to activate. Passing over Willington Viaduct slowly to observe the speed restriction, on the left was the Bogie Chain pub with a Mk1 Coach for extra seating. Since our trip ran it has left for the Aln Valley Railway and the pub has been demolished with housing built on the site. [They don't hang about in Newcastle!]

Travelling onwards through Wallsend and Walkergate, Heaton Traction Maintenance Depot is on the right, before Chillingham Road where the line deviates from the original railway through Byker Tunnel and over the Byker Viaduct (controversial when constructed due to the cost) to Manors where we crossed right over to P1. The tour reversed and proceeded into Stoddart Street Siding 1 - the furthest from the main line. After a reversal in the headshunt (a big highlight for track connoisseurs as it is on the trackbed of the Quayside Goods Branch - CG 1968) then it was back into Stoddart Street Siding 2.

From here the tour unusually ran back to Manors P1 and then 'wrong line' to Monument P3, causing some confusion to passengers awaiting a train towards the Coast. There are three late night services from the coast which terminate at Monument P3. This also occasionally happens in times of disruption with a train being turned around here rather than at St James. We then performed an even rarer move by continuing from Monument P3 to St James P1, something I have never experienced before. To do this we had to be given permission to pass the signal at the end of P3 which, although a two aspect signal, is only capable of displaying one, red! Even better still, our train continued through St James P1 and to the end of the line. The look of bemusement on one normal's face sitting on the usual Metro service in P2 as we headed west out of P1 was quite something - the Carlisle extension perhaps?

After an hour lunch break at St James we resumed our exploration and returned to Manors P1 for reversal then, with everyone seated, traversed the very tightly curved Manors Spur via the middle loop (it is left hand running in each direction) before passing the original Jesmond station to reach Jesmond Jn. From here we ran to Monkseaton taking the facing crossover into the loop to reverse and returned to Longbenton. Then it was the highlight of the trip for many; the single bidirectional South Gosforth Depot Avoiding Line. In this direction the facing crossover at Gosforth East Jn and the trailing one at Gosforth West Jn were included. This track is the furthest north outside the depot building with an internal level crossing at the depot entrance and is quite different from the third side of the triangle in British Rail days. A special platform was built on the avoider for the Sep 1989 depot open day with services from/to Regent Centre.


1:25,000 map (1951); Longbenton station is far right, South Gosforth bottom middle and West Gosforth (CP 17 Jun 1929) upper left. The depot avoiding line north of the depot building was not a through line at the west end then but there was a through double track curve between the then Gosforth East Jn and West Jn as shown instead.


97901/2/3 (BL1, BL2 & BL3) were outside the depot with 4002 outside the shed. We ran through Regent Centre to Kingston Park, reversing in P2 to do the trailing crossover on departure. South Shields was next, 'Special Branch Train' was noted on some station displays; the force was still with us.

Left of Pelaw Metro stop was Pelaw North Jn once for the Leamside Line which we crossed over, then Pelaw Metro Jn was on the right for the NR line to Sunderland and we ran alongside the NR Jarrow Branch (left). At Hebburn there are two staggered platforms, then a short single track section to Jarrow Metro stop (two platforms again). There used to be a yard on the left and British Steel locos had running powers for trip workings to/from the local works.

After Jarrow Loop the track singles again until the NR line diverges left to Jarrow Oil Terminal. We continued towards Tyne Dock and Chichester [pronounced 'Chai - Chester']. At the latter the Newcastle platform was out of use at the time of the tour due to signalling restrictions during construction of the new South Shields Interchange. Before it the line now singles earlier with remodelling. We passed the new stop, (later OP Sun 4 Aug 2019), before the 1984 South Shields terminus. The track beyond, (see e-BLN 1335.2178 picture), passing South Shields British Rail station (CP 1981), is OOU as a new Metro Maintenance & Renewals Skills Centre is under construction.

Once the driver had changed ends, we proceeded back to Pelaw for the fourth time to run through Pelaw Refuge Siding - for those on our 2018 tour as well this completed coverage of the complex T&W trackwork here. Then it was off to take the facing crossover into Regent Centre Siding, reaching the very end of the track with the coupling expertly fitted into the appropriate shaped slot in the buffers by our driver. After a final reversal, our tour terminated at South Gosforth P1. This was another excellent day out with the South Gosforth Avoider being the highlight for many. There is still some further track to cover, Chichester crossover please, so hopefully there will be another one next year.

Grateful thanks to the many at T&W Metro, Nexus and in our Society who made this special event happen and supported it in numerous different ways. This included participating, providing tour notes, souvenir tickets, historical and track maps, stewarding, donating raffle prizes (also buying tickets) and calculating the mileages and moves etc. Particular thanks to the organiser John Cameron with support from Kev Adlam. It is very pleasing to report that our tour raised £7,042.45 for Alzheimer's Society.


Our unit at Gosforth Depot before the tour.
[© Geoff Plumb. 2019]




Prototype Tyne & Wear Metro unit 4002 at the temporary platform to the rear of South Gosforth Carriage Sheds during a Metro open day on the 17 Sep 1989.
[© Richard Vogel 1989]




A Metro unit in Bagnall's siding on the right, with another unit passing, in the late 1980s.
[© Richard Vogel 1989]




Our unit at Gosforth Depot before the tour.
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]




A selection of Stewards with the T&W Metro staff at Gosforth Depot, some looking at a different camera perhaps?
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]




At South Gosforth Metro stop. The Metro Control Centre for operations, signalling, power supply, customer service etc centre is right - the Society had a very interesting visit on 1 May 2015.
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]




The fog on the Tyne is mine, all mine… The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge above the river.
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]




Not guess the location and a rear cab view rather than wrong line running.
[© Authorised Personnel 2019]




The (Sunderland) end of Pelaw No1 Siding..
[© Authorised Personnel. 2019]




More fog at Pelaw looking east. Except where specified, all pictures are by our Official Society Photographer https://plumbloco.smugmug.com/ Geoff Plumb.
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]




You don't see this very often! A rare photo of Geoff Plumb, on the left side at the front of our unit; Pelaw No1 Siding, Newcastle end.
[© Authorised Personnel. 2019]




Reversing at Haymarket, (note the fixed red) the 'normal' doesn't seem at all bothered.
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]




Haymarket trailing crossover is rather more than just a simple crossover.
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]




Time for another chorus of 'The fog on the Tyne is mine, all mine…'
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]




Meanwhile on board..
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]




Looks familiar? Yes, but this time it's the Newcastle end of Pelaw No2 Siding.
[© Authorised Personnel. 2019]




Another remarkable 'selfie' by Geoff Plumb - the end of Bagnall's Siding.
[© Authorised Personnel. 2019]




Inside New Bridge Street Tunnel, on the former Quayside Goods Branch (CG 1968), now the headshunt for Stoddart Street Sidings at Manors and the highlight of the tour for many.
[© Authorised Personnel. 2019]




The end of St James (P1) run off tunnel; the start of the T&W Metro Carlisle extension.
[© Authorised Personnel. 2019]




The tour organiser, Society Committee member, John Cameron, 'cabbing' one of the units. John is also your BLN North West Regional Editor.
[© Kev Adlam 2019]




The fine building at Longbenton Metro stop.
[© Sir Ian Hughes 2019]




Our tour approaches.
[© Sir Ian Hughes 2019]




Rear view of Gosforth Depot Avoiding Line heading away from Longbenton.
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]




The depot road/pedestrian entrance is over a level crossing midway along the avoiding line.
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]




A photo, of a photo, of a photo, on the Depot Avoiding Line.
[© Sir Ian Hughes 2019]




T&W Metro Battery Loco No1 at Gosforth saw action after the tour.
[© Geoff Plumb 2019]

Back to Top