Gateshead, Tyne & Wear
Gateshead East Railway Station
10 Jun 2020
Gateshead, Tyne & Wear
This is a
Current status is
Designer (if known):
Alignment still in use to Sunderland. Platforms are in situ but other features of the station have been demolished.
'When the full ‘main line’ service was introduced across the High Level Bridge both of the existing Gateshead termini, Greenesfield and Redheugh, closed to passengers, and a station was provided in their stead a short distance south-east of the High Level Bridge. It took the form of a narrow island platform, squeezed between the two tracks as they curved tightly on a series of stone arches. Its facilities were limited to a small entrance block, probably on the east side, and were greatly inferior to the elegant building with a trainshed that Greenesfield had possessed. In 1862 a trainshed was added to the new station to provide some comfort for the passengers on the elevated, windswept platform. This is the station which would become Gateshead East when its neighbour was added in 1868.
In 1884-86 the inadequate Gateshead East station was reconstructed by the NER, widening the north-east side of the viaduct so that two generously proportioned side platforms built of timber could replace the island, and a substantial building containing all of the station facilities was placed behind the up platform. The down platform had only a screen of timber and glass. A trainshed was built, its arched profile contrasting with the ridged design used for the West station. South-east of the trainshed the down platform, which extended many yards beyond its neighbour, was sheltered by a canopy. At the north-west end of the station, the up platform extended further than the down platform, the latter being curtailed by the junction with the line through Gateshead West. Passengers entered from Wellington Street, south-west of the East station, where a ‘suitable aggrandised façade’ (Fawcett) was provided, then passed under both tracks through one of the viaduct arches, before ascending a staircase to the up platform. Entry to the platform was controlled by elegant iron barriers. Facing the platform, the upper storey of the building had segmental-arched windows with matching door openings. In LNER days a ‘passimeter’ booking office was added. A further entrance was available between Half Moon Lane and Hills Street, and a newspaper article of 1884 refers to access from Bankwell Lane. An iron footbridge connected all four platforms where they converged at their northern end.
Gas lighting at the Gateshead stations gave way to electricity in LNER or early-BR days. The East station lighting had brick-shaped diffusers displaying the station name (just ‘Gateshead’) and until about 1962 LNER running-in boards were retained, when BR installed vitreous enamel nameboards and miscellaneous information signs, but not totems.
Steam-haulage of trains through Gateshead East between Newcastle and Middlesbrough gave way to diesel multiple units (DMUs) in November 1955, and the Sunderland local trains followed in August 1958. In a retrogressive move the electric train services between Newcastle and South Shields gave way to DMUs on 7 January 1963. BR reported in 1962 that since their introduction in 1938 passenger loadings on the electric service had halved, and that diesel operation would be cheaper. North Tyneside electrics were withdrawn in favour of DMUs in 1966-67. The South Shields service suffered further economies when winter Sunday trains were discontinued in 1964-65, and in summer 1965 when the 20-minute weekday frequency was reduced to half-hourly. Sunday trains on the South Shields service ceased altogether in winter 1979-80.
Until 1966 a passenger from Newcastle to South Shields or Sunderland was treated to a magnificent view of the River Tyne gorge from the High Level Bridge, before plunging into the cavernous trainshed at Gateshead East. In that year both the trainshed and the down platform canopy were removed, after which the station was no longer dark and forbidding, but bleak and equally uninviting; a coat of white paint on the platform elevation of the station building did little to improve its appearance. On 2 January 1967 the North Eastern Region was abolished and its lines and stations were transferred to Eastern Region management. In that year ticket bookings at Gateshead East, at 68,629 were only half of the 1951 figure. The Newcastle – Sunderland and South Shields branch local services were among those changed by the Eastern Region to ‘Paytrain’ operation in which, as an economy measure, booking offices were closed at all but the most important stations and tickets were issued instead by conductor-guards on the train. Gateshead East and all of the other intermediate stations between Newcastle and Sunderland / South Shields consequently became unstaffed on 5 October 1969. Windows and doors in the main building which opened onto the up platform were bricked up, and the former stationmaster’s office in a timber building standing above the road entrance to the High Level Bridge, between the East and West stations, was dismantled. Although the purpose of the timber building was presumably altered after the withdrawal of staff, the structure was in situ and in good condition during the 1970s.
Following the removal of the trainshed, the up platform, where few passengers would be likely to gather for trains to Newcastle, had nowhere for passengers to take refuge from the elements, but in 1971/2 a crude breezeblock shelter was placed on the down platform. At that time only one running-in board on each platform showed the station’s name. In 1974/75 BR Eastern Region provided new lighting and signage, consisting of tall and widely spaced lamp posts - replacing some less conspicuous temporary lighting installed when the trainshed was removed - with Corporate Identity nameplates fixed to them.
From 1 May 1972 the timetables acknowledged that there was no longer a Gateshead West station, and the ‘East’ suffix was dropped.
The Tyne and Wear Metro scheme, which received the Royal Assent in 1973, included a new bridge over the River Tyne, a station conveniently sited under central Gateshead, and the adoption of most of the South Shields branch as part of the light rail network. Although local British Rail trains would continue to pass through Gateshead (East) on the Sunderland line, it was proposed to close the station since a more frequent service would be provided at the underground Gateshead station. The likelihood of its eventual closure clearly deterred British Rail from investing in Gateshead (East) station from the mid 1970s onwards. An article in Evening Chronicle on 18 November 1976 drew attention to the shocking state of the station and the failure of BR to advertise its existence. Despite its elevated position above the town’s streets a local resident commented, ‘it doesn’t look like a station because there is no outward sign that gives a clue’, whilst another complained, ‘local residents get fed up with people asking them where the station is; some even ask when they are only a hundred yards from it’. The journalist, Gerry Rothapel, who compiled the article, remarked that ‘for a service that runs eight trains every hour during off-peak periods to South Shields and Sunderland, people think that there is a case for a more caring attitude from British Rail’ and added that Councillor Stephen Nugent, a former Mayor of Gateshead and Chairman of Gateshead Transport Advisory Committee, believed that the station ‘certainly did not fit the town’. For those determined intending passengers who eventually found the station, the explosion of graffiti that greeted them from the moment they entered accompanied them up the 33 steps to the platform where the walls of the shelter were liberally daubed, and tin cans and discarded sweet papers littered the floor in an air of almost total dereliction.
Gateshead East remained substantially intact until it was damaged by fire in the late 1980s, and by 1990 the platforms and the track-level buildings had been demolished. The only remnant of the station is the Wellington Street entrance, used as a kebab shop. The subway to which it led forms the shop premises with a wall at the back where the steps to the up platform began. The east side of the elevated railway has a rather tasteful confectionery of brick and stone. Ironically, the platforms remain intact at Gateshead West half a century after the station closed.
Gateshead now has the dubious distinction of being one of the largest towns not to have a station on the National Rail network, while Newcastle retains one of the country’s principal, and architecturally finest, stations.'
Listing Description (if available)
Both editions above illustrate Gateshead East station on the south end of the High Level Bridge. In the first edition, Greenesfield Depot is a large complex which occupies the site of the spur to the East Coast Main Line as the King Edward Bridge had not been constructed by this point. The line from York at this point went via Washington and Heworth.
The 1898 edition shows a sprawling industrious Gateshead at its peak. Gateshead West had been constructed adjacent which meant Gateshead commuters could now travel to the likes of Low Fell and Dunston from Gateshead.
By 1921 the station still maintained a respectable number of passengers due to its location close to the Tyneside industry to its east. The town is similar to twenty years ago, but its sprawl continued to increase into Dunston and Herworth.
Photograph of Gateshead East, 1957. The image shows a Newcastle service bound to Sunderland along the down platform. The station was fairly substantial, with a waiting room, and ornate features
Retrieved from Les Turnbull on Disused Stations
Photograph of Gateshead East, 1965. The image shows a first generation DMU on its way to South Shields from Newcastle (The conductor must have forgot to change the blind). The station is very atmospheric and reminiscent of other North Eastern stations like Pickering and a miniature York.
Retrieved from Kevin Hudspith on Disused Stations
Photograph looking towards Gateshead East, 1974. The service the photograph was taken from seems to have gone over the spur from the King Edward Bridge towards Pelaw. Greenesfield Depot can be seen in the background while Gateshead East and its associated buildings are featured on the line traversing to the right.
Retrieved from Courtney Haydon on Disused Stations