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Tyne and Wear HER(7717): West Chirton, Middle Engine Lane, Stephenson Railway Museum - Details

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N Tyneside

West Chirton, Middle Engine Lane, Stephenson Railway Museum

West Chirton



Art and Education Venue




Extant Building

Modern railway museum run by volunteers from the North Tyneside Steam Railway Association. The Association was formed in 1977 as The Monkwearmouth Station Museum Association to assist the Tyne and Wear Joint Museums Service to restore railway related items at the former goods shed at Monkwearmouth. In 1981 the items were transferred to the Metro Test Track at Middle Engine Lane in West Chirton because the roof of the goods shed at Sunderland was deteriorating. The Association changed its name. A purpose built railway workshop was built where members could work on exhibits and a steam hauled passenger service was established on the one and three quarter mile track between Middle Engine Lane and Percy Main village. The centre became known as the Stephenson Railway Museum. The museum is managed by Tyne and Wear Museums on behalf of North Tyneside Council. A timber waggonway ran through the museum site from Shiremoor to Hayhole Staiths on the River Tyne in around 1755. Around 1764-69 anorther wooden waggonway was built from Murton to Percy Main. In 1818 a line was built from Backworth A Pit to Percy Main (HER 1113). This line was converted to rope haulage using stationary steam engines (HER 1172, Murton Row Engine) from 1821 to 1827. In 1822 Cramlington Colliery built a line from Ann Pit to Murton Row (HER 1056), where it joined the Backworth line to Percy Main, then ran on its own track to the staithes. This is the line used by the museum railway. In 1826 a new line was built from Fawdon to Middle Engine Lane to run alongside the Backworth line to Percy Main. It was originally called the Brunton & Shields Railway but was later renamed the Seaton Burn Waggonway (HER 1065). In 1840 the Seghill collieries built their own line from Seghill, parallel with the Cramlington line as far as Middle Engine Lane, then followed the Backworth line to Percy Main, finally using the southernmost part of the Cramlington line which had been abandoned in 1839. At this time the cutting which can been seen to the east of the museum's carpark was excavated. There is now a footpath in the cutting some 20 feet deep. In 1841 the Seghill Waggonway decided to run a passenger service from Seghill to Percy Main. During 1843 the line was extended to Blyth. In 1847 the line was renamed the Blyth and Tyne Railway (HER 1055). In 1874 the Blyth & Tyne Railway was absorbed by the North Eastern Railway, later by British Rail. British Rail's tracks between Backworth and Percy Main closed in 1983 and the tracks lifted. In 1975 a test track was established at the Middle Engine site for the planned Metro system along with a two road workshop. The test track closed in 1979 when the Metro opened. In 1982-4 North Tyneside Council acquired the test sheds for a transport museum. Work began in 1987 on new embankments, two stations, renovation of bridges and laying of rails. The first passenger trains ran in 1991. In 1994 the workshops were extended and a new facilities block built with funding from Tyne and Wear Development Corporation and North Tyneside City Challenge. In 2003 the facilities block was further improved. A steam train is run on the track and the museum also has examples of diesel and electric trains. The prize exhibit is Stephenson's 'Billy' which was built in 1813 at Killingworth {Ian R. Taylor, 'line history',



NZ32236922;; C.R. Warn 'Rails across Northumberland'; JA Wells, 'The Blyth and Tyne Branch Part 1 & 2'; Tyne and Wear Transport, 'Meet Your Metro', Allan W. Stobbs, 'Memories of the LNER'.

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