Beamish

Site of Beamish Station 1945

Site of Beamish Station in 1945 from Google Earth. Visible are the platforms, station buildings and the goods yard.  Also visible is the colliery line that ran parallel to the main road through the village.

When the original deviation was built, a station was provided at Beamish as well as Annfield Plain, Shield Row (later West Stanley) and Pelton with the passenger service, run by the North Eastern Railway (NER), beginning  on 1 February 1894 running to Newcastle via Ouston Junction and Birtley.  In 1923, as part of the Grouping, it became part of the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) then, in 1948, after the nationalisation of the railways, passed to the ownership of British Railways (BR).  At the time, Beamish was not the quiet village it is today and it was surrounded by collieries and other associated industries and, as well as the Consett line, a colliery railway ran directly alongside the main road (A693) through the village.

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A BR 9F 2-10-0 returning down the steep incline through Beamish with an empty ore train. In the distance, what appears to be Class 37 is heading a train up the hill. Photo Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence *

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Beamish Station from an old postcard. Used with permission, originally posted here: http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/6450-blackgill-tyne-dock-to-consett-in-p4/page-7

All the buildings at the station, including the goods shed and the signal box followed the standard North Eastern Railway practice for the line and were constructed of timber.

The station itself, with the exception of the signal box, was demolished in the 1960s but other parts, such as the two stone walls that can be seen in the picture of the 9F to the right remained albeit for some reason they were later demolished as well as they are not there now although there is a large pile of stones where the left hand wall once stood which may be the remains of the wall.

The signal box at Beamish survived until 1982 and an effort was made to save it at Beamish Museum although this came to nothing and the box was demolished shortly thereafter.  The signal box from Carr House in Consett was subsequently dismantled and installed at Beamish along with the sation building from Rowley station.

Passenger Services

By 1917 the service consisted of ten trains each way with three on a Sunday.  From the 1930s buses provided stiff competition and by the time of the British Railways era, there were only four trains to Consett and two trains from Consett each day with an extra train each way on a Saturday and none on a Sunday.

Beamish Station Postcard

A Buglass postcard from 1903 showing Beamish Station and it’s surroundings looking towards Consett. Author’s Collection

Like all stations on the line, Beamish the passenger numbers at Beamish increased dramatically in the early years from 32,149 in 1898 to 49,536 in 1903 and 66.524 in 1913.  Passenger numbers stayed buoyant until the introduction of local bus services from the early 1920s which had a massive impact of passenger numbers which rapidly dwindled thereafter. The station itself was closed to passengers on 21 September 1953 and the passenger trains were finally withdrawn completely from the rest of the line on 23 May 1955.

Goods Services

The goods facilities at Beamish consisted of four sidings, a goods shed and a loading dock.

The goods service from Beamish ended on 2 August 1960.

A deadly accident…

The cutting just beyond Beamish station was the site of a spectacular accident on 9 December 1964 unfortunately resulting in one fatality.  Twenty three loaded coal wagons broke loose from a train that was being shunted at Annfield Plain Junction and ran all the way down the line to Beamish reaching speeds of up to eighty miles per hour before they hit the back of another goods train.  The collision resulted in a huge pile of debris which took sixty men a number of days to clear. For the period of the recovery, all trains had to be diverted through Lanchester. The scars left behind by the accident can be seen, to this day, on the cutting sides and bridge abutments.

Beamish Station in 1942. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Beamish in the 1950s and 1960s…

9F 92097 at Beamish on 10 April 1965 with the RCTS North Eastern No2 Railtour. Photo copyright Mick Worrall.

An iron ore train hauled by an unknown (F makes it’s way past the site of Beamish Station sometime in the 1960s. Photo copyright Mick Worrall.

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9F 92097 at Beamish on 10 April 1965 with the RCTS North Eastern No2 Railtour. Photo copyright Kenneth Gray

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A 9F on an iron ore train at Beamish in the 1960s. Photo copyright Kenneth Gray

Beamish Station and Signal Box 1

A coal train passes the site of Beamish Station and Signal Box sometime after the closure of the station in 1953. Photo Copyright Keith Hoult

Beamish Station 1

A coal train on it’s way to Consett passes a steel train coming the other way at Beamish Station. Note that whilst the siting board is there as it is in the photograph of the signal box above, there is no signal… Photo copyright Keith Hoult

Beamish in the 1970s…

Beamish Signal Box 19 May 1979 Alan Lewis

Beamish Signal Box on 19 May 1979, photo taken from the Country Durham Crusader railtour. Note the rusty rails of the crossover which clearly hadn’t been used for some time. Photo Copyright Alan Lewis

370620 on County Durham Crusader Railtour 19 May 1979 Alan Lewis

37062 on County Durham Crusader Railtour 19 May 1979. Photograph copyright Alan Lewis

Beamish Signal Box in 1968

Beamish Signal Box looking somewhat worse for wear. Note the signal and the sighting board behind it on the tunnel wall. Photo copyright Paul Young

37079 and 37016 head through Beamish with an iron ore train on 20 June 1978. Photo copyright Stephen McGahon

37079 and 37016 head through Beamish with an iron ore train on 20 June 1978. Photo copyright Stephen McGahon

An unknown Class 37 heads towards Beamish in January 1978.

An unknown Class 37 heads towards Beamish in January 1978.  Photo copyright Stephen McGahon

37113 working hard on the 1 in 50 bank past Beamish box with empty steel bolsters for Consett steelworks on 20th June 1978. The gradient eased here to 1 in 264 for a short distance through the site of Beamish station before resuming at 1 in 50, with even a stretch of 1 in 35, as far as Annfield Plain where the climb became less taxing for the last few miles to Consett. Photo copyright Stephen McGahon

37113 working hard on the 1 in 50 bank past Beamish box with empty steel bolsters for Consett steelworks on 20th June 1978. The gradient eased here to 1 in 264 for a short distance through the site of Beamish station before resuming at 1 in 50, with even a stretch of 1 in 35, as far as Annfield Plain where the climb became less taxing for the last few miles to Consett. Photo copyright Stephen McGahon

Beamish in the 1980s…

An unidentified Class 37 hauls a single brake van at Beamish on it's way to Consett in early 1980. Photo Author's Collection

An unidentified Class 37 hauls a single brake van between Pelton and Beamish on it’s way to Consett in early 1980. Photo Author’s Collection

Photos from a Beamish Local…

The following set of photographs were all taken by David Milburn who used to live in one of the cottages overlooking the station.  All the captions are from David as well.

Ex NER 0-8-0 63387 runs downhill through Beamish with empty coal trucks on a May evening 1967. Q6s were right hand drive and the driver peers out at the speed indicator showing a 25 mph restriction ahead. The eagle-eyed might spot the track peppered with iron ore pellets, which for a period in 1967-8 were the form the raw material took. They often spilled or leaked out of the ore wagons. Photo copyright David Milburn

Ex NER 0-8-0 63387 runs downhill through Beamish with empty coal trucks on a May evening 1967. Q6s were right hand drive and the driver peers out at the speed indicator showing a 25 mph restriction ahead. The eagle-eyed might spot the track peppered with iron ore pellets, which for a period in 1967-8 were the form the raw material took. They often spilled or leaked out of the ore wagons and, to this day, can still be seen at the site of the station. Photo copyright David Milburn

K1 62007 whistles to warn men on the track. It's August 1967 and steam has one more month of working left in the north east. Soon, this location will revert to nature and the track bed be used as a cycleway. The tunnel seen here now carries the access road from the A693 into Beamish Museum. Photo copyright David Milburn

K1 62007 whistles to warn men on the track. It’s August 1967 and steam has one more month of working left in the north east. Soon, this location will revert to nature and the track bed be used as a cycleway. The tunnel seen here now carries the access road from the A693 into Beamish Museum. Photo copyright David Milburn

K1s did not regularly appear on the Tyne Dock - Consett line until the last year or so of steam. Here, K1 62007 is checked by the signal short of Beamish station. If trains ahead were making slow progress, or had stopped for a blow up then trains in the following section were immediately affected. Stopping at Beamish was very common. Above the loco can be seen 'Station Cottages', railwaymen's dwellings and the only thing that now remain. Photo copyright David Milburn

K1s did not regularly appear on the Tyne Dock – Consett line until the last year or so of steam. Here, K1 62007 is checked by the signal short of Beamish station. If trains ahead were making slow progress, or had stopped for a blow up then trains in the following section were immediately affected. Stopping at Beamish was very common. Above the loco can be seen ‘Station Cottages’, railwaymen’s dwellings and the only thing that now remain. Photo copyright David Milburn

With fifty years of service to its credit ex NER T2, Q6 0-8-0 63458 pauses for a blow up beside the box at Beamish . The rusted smoke box door indicates just how run-down these locos were at the end. Photo Copyright David Milburn

With fifty years of service to its credit ex NER T2, Q6 0-8-0 63458 pauses for a blow up beside the box at Beamish . The rusted smoke box door indicates just how run-down these locos were at the end. Photo Copyright David Milburn

With fifty years of service to its credit ex NER T2, Q6 0-8-0 63458 pauses for a blow up beside the box at Beamish . The rusted smoke box door indicates just how run-down these locos were at the end. Photo Copyright David Milburn

With fifty years of service to its credit ex NER T2, Q6 0-8-0 63458 pauses for a blow up beside the box at Beamish . The rusted smoke box door indicates just how run-down these locos were at the end. Photo Copyright David Milburn

D5111 and other class 24 with iron ore empties at Beamish. After the steam era I was surprised that a pair of Sulzer 2s was considered an adequate replacement for two Class 9F steam locos. But for several years this was the motive power for the iron ore trains from Tyne Dock to Consett, and most of the time it worked, though the Sulzers could often be seen struggling with the 700 ton loads on the steeper sections of the route.The above shot was taken in Beamish August 1968 and shows a pair of class 24s at the head of ore empties. Photo copyright David Milburn

D5111 and other class 24 with iron ore empties at Beamish. After the steam era I was surprised that a pair of Sulzer 2s was considered an adequate replacement for two Class 9F steam locos. But for several years this was the motive power for the iron ore trains from Tyne Dock to Consett, and most of the time it worked, though the Sulzers could often be seen struggling with the 700 ton loads on the steeper sections of the route.The above shot was taken in Beamish August 1968 and shows a pair of class 24s at the head of ore empties. Photo copyright David Milburn

D6788 with brake tender. Taken around April 1965 this shows D6788, then about two years old, held at the Beamish home signal, not the signal in the picture. Note the brake tender, then obligatory on unbraked trains on this route. In the foreground are the remains of the station platform before it was finally removed. Photo copyright David Milburn

D6788 with brake tender. Taken around April 1965 this shows D6788, then about two years old, held at the Beamish home signal, not the signal in the picture. Note the brake tender, then obligatory on unbraked trains on this route. In the foreground are the remains of the station platform before it was finally removed. Photo copyright David Milburn

One of Gateshead's Class 24s comes to the aid of another class member that has failed with a modest coal train of 7 hoppers. The combined weight of the locos, brake tender and brake van must have equalled that of the load! Taken at Beamish August 1968, train loco D5107, rescue diesel D5182. Photo copyright David Milburn

One of Gateshead’s Class 24s comes to the aid of another class member that has failed with a modest coal train of 7 hoppers. The combined weight of the locos, brake tender and brake van must have equalled that of the load! Taken at Beamish August 1968, train loco D5107, rescue diesel D5182. Photo copyright David Milburn

This rather unusual view, taken literally at rail level looks up past the Beamish distant signal to the station itself. In the foreground is overbridge 11 ( Stoney Lane) and in the distance bridge 12 which is still there today albeit with new decking. The terrace in the left distance is also there ( Nicholson Terr) but the community it led to over the bridge to the right (Thornton's Fold) disappeared 50 years ago. The grade here was I in 49 and it knocked the stuffing out of trains which had been picking up speed along Station Lane, Pelton. Photo Copyright David Milburn

Beamish from the East – This rather unusual view, taken literally at rail level looks up past the Beamish distant signal to the station itself. In the foreground is overbridge 11 ( Stoney Lane) and in the distance bridge 12 which is still there today albeit with new decking. The terrace in the left distance is also there ( Nicholson Terr) but the community it led to over the bridge to the right (Thornton’s Fold) disappeared 50 years ago. The grade here was I in 49 and it knocked the stuffing out of trains which had been picking up speed along Station Lane, Pelton. Photo Copyright David Milburn

View from Beamish Distant Signal - The Hell Hole wood seen from the top of the distant signal. This was a 1 in 56 slog westward from Beamish and trains often struggled here having been climbing for five miles. The bridge in the foreground, No17 was a solitary place but had not always been so. In the early years of the C20th, when Beamish had many more residents than today a substantial community lived at Eden Rows and the many miners who worked at the recently opened Beamish No 1 (or 'Mary') pit used this bridge to reach work. Photo Copyright David Milburn

View from Beamish Distant Signal – The Hell Hole wood seen from the top of the distant signal. This was a 1 in 56 slog westward from Beamish and trains often struggled here having been climbing for five miles. The bridge in the foreground, No17 was a solitary place but had not always been so. In the early years of the 20th Century, when Beamish had many more residents than today a substantial community lived at Eden Rows and the many miners who worked at the recently opened Beamish No 1 (or ‘Mary’) pit used this bridge to reach work. Photo Copyright David Milburn

Class 37 with Oil Tankers Beamish 1969 - A class 37 with oil tankers for Consett approaches bridge 17, 5th November 1969. The Beamish distant sits on the embankment to the right. This signal was sited at a great distance from its box and signalmen used to tell me that operating it was no easy matter. Photo Copyright David Milburn

Class 37 with Oil Tankers Beamish 1969 – A class 37 with oil tankers for Consett approaches bridge 17, 5th November 1969. The Beamish distant sits on the embankment to the right. This signal was sited at a great distance from its box and signalmen used to tell me that operating it was no easy matter. Photo Copyright David Milburn

This, taken from the railway footbridge shows the view down towards Handen Hold. There are no more 9Fs pounding upgrade with iron ore. The track has gone and the ballast will disappear rapidly too as the trackbed finds a new purpose. Photo Copyright David Milburn

This, taken from the railway footbridge shows the view down towards Handen Hold. There are no more 9Fs pounding upgrade with iron ore. The track has gone and the ballast will disappear rapidly too as the trackbed finds a new purpose. Photo Copyright David Milburn

Beamish Tunnel No14 - Lying just west of the station, Beamish's tunnels, and the cutting between them represented the most ambitious engineering on the route. The first of tunnels carried the NCB line over to the workshops of Beamish 2nd Pit (Chophill) and its engine shed. To the right of the tunnel were the lines from Stanley and Beamish No 1 pit. These were built along routes which had once been wagonways and which, in the case of Beamish dated back to the mid C18th. Through the tunnel is the site of the station. Photo Copyright David Milburn

Beamish Tunnel No14 – Lying just west of the station, Beamish’s tunnels, and the cutting between them represented the most ambitious engineering on the route. The first of tunnels carried the NCB line over to the workshops of Beamish 2nd Pit (Chophill) and its engine shed. To the right of the tunnel were the lines from Stanley and Beamish No 1 pit. These were built along routes which had once been wagonways and which, in the case of Beamish dated back to the mid 18th Century. Through the tunnel is the site of the station. Photo Copyright David Milburn

Beamish Tunnel No 15 - The more westerly of the tunnels carried the mineral line into Chophill colliery itself and was in use until the end of 1962. This picture shows the Tyne Dock Consett line after closure but before the track was taken up. About 20 metres short of the tunnel was the 4 mile marker from South Pelaw Junction. The structure of the tunnel was sound enough to serve as the basis for a new road running from the A693 to Beamish Museum. Photo Copyright David Milburn

Beamish Tunnel No 15 – The more westerly of the tunnels carried the mineral line into Chophill colliery itself and was in use until the end of 1962. This picture shows the Tyne Dock Consett line after closure but before the track was taken up. About 20 metres short of the tunnel was the 4 mile marker from South Pelaw Junction. The structure of the tunnel was sound enough to serve as the basis for a new road running from the A693 to Beamish Museum. Photo Copyright David Milburn

Beamish after the line closure - Beamish station was just beyond the crossover. This shot was taken just before track lifting commenced. The 'down' track looks in pretty good state for a line about to be lifted. The railwaymen's cottages to the left are still there. Photo Copyright David Milburn

Beamish after the line closure – Beamish station was just beyond the crossover. This shot was taken just before track lifting commenced. The ‘down’ track looks in pretty good state for a line about to be lifted. The railwaymen’s cottages to the left are still there. Photo Copyright David Milburn

The site of Beamish station just prior to another fall of snow. This early 60s shot shows the platforms still in place but all the station yard track work has been removed. Photo Copyright David Milburn

The site of Beamish station just prior to another fall of snow. This early 60s shot shows the platforms still in place but all the station yard track work has been removed. Photo Copyright David Milburn

Q6 63455, with a trip working pauses at the Beamish home signal in the early 1960s. These trip wagons often contained little more than a smattering of scrap iron for the furnaces. In the background is Beamish's rickety footbridge, and through the April mist Thornton's Fold, a small row of miners' cottages. Note also the allotment, next to Beamish woods. This was well maintained as I remember, and its owner was in the process of building a shed. 63455 was a long term Consett engine and in that time honoured North Eastern tradition was sound rather than clean! Photo Copyright David Milburn

Q6 63455, with a trip working pauses at the Beamish home signal in the early 1960s. These trip wagons often contained little more than a smattering of scrap iron for the furnaces. In the background is Beamish’s rickety footbridge, and through the April mist Thornton’s Fold, a small row of miners’ cottages. Note also the allotment, next to Beamish woods. This was well maintained as I remember, and its owner was in the process of building a shed. 63455 was a long term Consett engine and in that time honoured North Eastern tradition was sound rather than clean! Photo and caption Copyright David Milburn

Beamish Today…

To see what Beamish looks like today, click here.

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10 thoughts on “Beamish

  1. Audrey Winter

    I have really enjoyed looking through your wonderful photographs. They came up in a search i was doing for a place called Thorntons field where my great uncle John Bowen used to live. I am doing some family history research and was trying to visualise the area. I know from what i have been told that he was a beekeeper and his hives overlooked the train line. I love the photo of the iron bridge with the miners cottages in the background. Would it be alright for me to use this for my family history files. Would you know of any other photos of Thorntons field at all.

    Regards Audrey Winter Kings Lynn Norfolk

  2. Trevor Longstaff

    I came across this site by chance, and funnily enough I too was looking for photos of Thorntons Fold. A great aunt of mine lived there and I often used to visit in the 1950s and probably early 60s too. She was Jane (Ginny) Wardman, nee Robson, husband Peter. He worked on the railway.

    I remember often running across the road and through the garden when a train was coming, then hanging over the fence to watch it puff up the track.

    I’ve been round the site of Thorntons Fold and there are odd patches of bricks and such marking where houses were but it is severely overgrown now. However there is a large dog kennel there proudly bearing the name “Thorntons Fold” over its entrance.

  3. charlie greenwell

    FROM CANADA GREETINGS
    In the 1950’s as a child ,the passenger train from Beamish station, would take me and my mother to Newcastle Central station .And as a kid i used to stand on the bridge near the Beamish signal box waiting for the oncoming steam trains to cover me and my pals in smoke.Some used to chicken out at the last minute.
    I lived a mile away in West Pelton and enjoyed many days playing in that area.If anyone reading this has similar memories i’d like tohear from them.Thanks for the memories.

  4. Robert Patterson

    John,
    I noticed a couple of photos of what have been termed “Pitfall posts”. I have seen a few on the former Consett route myself. In 33 years of working on the footplate this is the first time I have heard of the term. I thought they were simple snow posts, marked off in feet, to help the Permanent Way department to accurately gauge the depth of the snow. They can be found on other other still operational routes in the NE.
    However , if they are indeed “Pitfall Posts” I am more than willing to stand to be corrected! I’m just not convinced that’s what they are.
    Regards,
    Robert.

  5. Alan Lewis

    Regarding relaying of the line with concrete sleepers I remember seeing extensive relaying work going on near the remains of East Castles signalbox and Lime Kilns. I think this would have been 1976 or 77, more likely the latter.
    I also seem to remember new drainage pipes laid out beside the track at Beamish in 1979, a pretty shortlived investment.

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