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  Tynemouth Station

Tynemouth Station, with its gorgeous array of fully-glazed platform roofing, is a product of the partnership between the NER's Engineer, Thomas Elliot Harrison, and its Architect, William Bell. The station served a new coastal route from Monkseaton, opened on 3 July 1882, and was designed to handle large volumes of excursion traffic as well as the regular service from Newcastle.

 Harrison's layout was rather like a small edition of York. There were two through platforms for the regular traffic, but the broad platform on the east (main entrance) side also had large bays at either end for handling excursions, with subsidiary doorways in the station wall to cope with their passengers. The offices were set back in the centre to provide a 'recess platform' or concourse, as at York. A considerable advance on York was the access between platforms: this comprised a composite bridge, with a pair of passenger ways flanking a luggage corridor. The latter was reached by hydraulic lifts, powered from an accumulator in a brick tower at the rear of the station. This survives, although the lifts were dismantled long ago.

A modern view from the main (east) platform concourse, showing the steps leading up to the twin footbridges. The glass-roofed luggage corridor lies behind the boarding in between them and is nowadays used as an exhibition space.

Today, the excursionists being much diminished, the station comes to life most prominently with the weekend markets. held here

The station frontage is one of the dignified, somewhat reticent gothic essays which characterise the early part of Bell's term as company architect. The cantilevered glass awning is a replica of the original, reinstated as part of extensive repair works carried out from 1987 onwards. The use of chunky timber brackets contrasts with the exuberant ironwork of the station interior, and was intended to emphasise the gravitas of the facade.

Entering the station, the booking area originally lay on the left, demarcated by a pair of arches and equipped with a trio of Bell's characteristic gothic booking windows. On the right-hand side of the entrance was the large general waiting room. This arrangement was altered in 1931 by the LNER, which converted the waiting room into a booking and parcels office, very much larger than the original office, and resited two of the booking windows into its concourse wall. The room itself, now used as a restaurant, has an attractive timber roof.

Tynemouth Station concourse, looking north, in the late 1960's. The many commuters provided plenty of business for the newspaper stall, on the right, which largely obscures our view of the main entrance. Just left of the right-hand column we catch a glimpse of one of the resited booking windows.

Note the hanging flower baskets and slot-machines, one against each column.


The station clock, above the main entrance, and some discarded roof elements from dismantled bays at the north end of the east platform. These shows the deep gutters which are an integral part of the roof design.

The great delight of Tynemouth is its concourse and platform roof. This is a fully-glazed ridge and furrow roof, with comparatively large individual bays, and is a refined version of the one which Bell had used in one of his earliest stations: West Hartlepool, opened in 1879. Cast iron is employed for columns, spandrel brackets, gutters and valancing, while the lattice girders are fabricated from wrought-iron sections. The ironwork of the columns and brackets is exuberant without being overdone, while the trusses of the individual roof bays have filigree work of remarkable delicacy filling their spandrels. Gothic detailing shows up most conspicuously in the columns.


The accumulator (above) is a tank, riveted up from wrought-iron plates, into which water was pumped and then held at a steady pressure by a weighted piston bearing on it. This pressurised water was then used to operate the hydraulic lift mechanism.

The accumulator is housed in the tower (right) adjoining the rear (west) entrance. The lifts themselves vanished long ago.

Under British Railways, the station was generally well kept, but the outer portions of the east platform roof had lost their glazing in favour of corrugated sheeting, while the bay platforms fell out of use with the demise of excursion traffic. When the line passed to the Metro, their initial reaction was one of embarrassment at being saddled with a station far larger than their traffic warranted. As a result, the building gradually deteriorated.

Tynemouth Station from the south in 1987, still bearing its British Railways (North Eastern Region) colour scheme, dating back more than twenty years.

By 1987, the situation was looking somewhat bleak but the Friends of Tynemouth Station were set up that year and managed to change official attitudes and enlist widespread support. The outcome was a first phase of conservation, which restored to their original glory the roofs over the west platform and concourse. Modern office units were provided in vacant space on the west platform, and the main office range was gradually restored and brought into commercial use. An innovation was the launching of a weekend market, held on the concourse, which really brings that large space to life in a way comparable with the busy excursion days of long ago.

The final phase of restoration, dealing with the outer stretches of the east platform roof, has taken a long while to bring about, but eventually got underway in 2011. Hopefully, we shall soon see the whole of this grade II* listed building (i.e. one of national importance) brought back to life..


 The footbridge today and roof repairs underway in 1988






© W. Fawcett, 2011