At a time when the RMT union and rail users are campaigning to retain ticket offices across the UK, Northumberland County Council has approved plans to demolish a historic survivor from the days of steam.
Despite the approval, the Victorian Society urges Network Rail to change its mind and bring this bit of local history back into use. The decision comes as the Victorian Society explores what can be learnt for today from 19th Century railway architecture in its Autumn Online Talk Series 2023.
As part of the plan to reopen this part of the Northumberland rail line, Bedlington Station’s south building will be demolished. This decision is despite the Victorian Society’s strong objection and a 1000 strong signature petition from the local community.
Guy Newton, Conservation Adviser, Victorian Society said “The Victorian Society supports the reopening of this historic transport link. However, this doesn’t require the destruction this important bit of local heritage. In a climate emergency we must try to reuse and recycling buildings such as this, following Historic England’s guidance. the decision seems contrary to Network Rail’s own policy on sustainability. The south building could be restored and used as a waiting room to shelter those using the railway on cold and wet days. This would ultimately make passengers more likely to use the re-opened station assuring its success.” Read our Conservation Adviser's letter here. The Northumberland Chronicle reported our objection here.
Only four of the original 19 stations on the Blythe and Tyne Railway have survived. Of these, Bedlington station was subjected to less change than the other surviving stations (Hartley, Hepscott, and Morpeth) so more external features and internal spaces have survived. Bedlington’s north building, built in 1850, is a single-storey red brick building with a typically Victorian nod to classicism, featuring a blind gable roundel window, stone lintels, and cornice.The c1895-1905 south building, which will now be demolished, is also single-storey red brick building in a style like the north building. It once housed the booking hall and waiting room, of which the two ticket windows, fireplace, roof lantern, and historic flooring survive.
For a year the RMT Union has been campaigning against the Department for Transport managed train companies’ plans for wholesale ticket office closures – read more here.
This is not the only Railways issue the Victorian Society is currently involved in. The Society is chairing the reformed Liverpool Street Station Campaign (LISSCA), led by its President Griff Rhys Jones, which is campaigning to save Liverpool Street Station and the former Great Eastern Hotel, one of London’s great cathedrals of steam, from destruction and disfigurement read more here. The Society’s original chair poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman led the campaign that stopped the station’s total demolition in the 1970s. Over 21,000 people have now signed the petition against the harm the proposed scheme would cause read more here.
The Victorian Society is fundraising to cover the legal costs of a possible public inquiry donate here to The Victorian Society's fighting fund.
The Society is looking at 19th Century railway architecture and society and what can be learnt for today. So The Victorian Society’s Online Autumn Talk Series 2023 is devoted to Railway Architecture and Society in the Victorian Age read more and book tickets here SPECIAL OFFER: Buy one ticket and get all 7 talks for the price of 6 OR Each talk is £6 and includes a recording that you can access at any time.
Our events provide vital funds to support our work fighting to save our Victorian and Edwardian heritage.
Photo: Bedlington Station (remains), with Up coal train © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence The photo shows the view northward, towards Ashington and Newbiggin (to the right) and Morpeth (to the left). The station had been closed about six months before (2/11/64), together with the Newcastle - Newbiggin passenger service; even the freight traffic of this great South Northumberland area, which was steam-hauled longer than most (late into 1967), was doomed. The locomotive was one of the long-lived and capable NE J27 0-6-0's, No. 65834.