Railways Remembered – North East England

Presenter: Charles Roberts - Chairman, Online Transport Archive

Virtual Meeting via Zoom

Charles first introduced the Online Transport Archive, a not-for-profit charity whose aims are to preserve photos and videos of any transport related topic. Established in 2000, the OTA now holds a vast archive of images and videos from several well-known transport photographers.

The talk took its inspiration from a book of the same title published last year by Crecy’s, of which Charles was one of the authors. This book drew heavily on the images held by OTA and the sale proceeds help to fund the OTA’s activities.

The area covered was primarily Northumberland and Co Durham with a few minor excursions beyond these county borders for completeness. The period of 1960 to 1980 encompassed the wealth of pre-Beeching closure locations some of which were little photographed and so few images remain of them.

The talk also included extensive coverage of the numerous colliery lines operated in the region by the National Coal Board. Some of these even featured passenger services for the miners which were segregated into those going to the ‘Baths’ and those returning from them.

The East Coast main line was (and is) the main artery through the region with numerous photos shown of ‘Deltics’ and ‘HSTs’ on the London expresses and ‘Peaks’ on the inter-regional services. Also featured were a number of time-separated images of the eastern end of Newcastle Central. The earliest showed the maze of rails at the eastern junction and included the ‘Tyneside Electrics’ which were introduced in 1904 and were finally withdrawn and the lines de-electrified by British Rail in 1967. Later photos showed the same view but with DMUs operating these Tyneside suburban services. The final shot showed a very much simplified junction layout and the former ‘electric’ platforms concreted over to make a car park. Of course, the Tyneside suburban services didn’t disappear with the loss of the platforms but were incorporated into the Tyne and Wear Metro network which opened in 1980. A few images of the early days of the Metro concluded this very informative presentation.