Wednesday, 4 February 2015
I am doing a short course about the early development of the railways. This week we have reviewed the Newcastle to Carlisle line and the impact it had on commerce and employment; for example, in 1840 over 50% of the workforce in Gateshead was employed in the railway industry.
I know the line and its route quite well and have many times walked across the viaduct at Lambley or under the 1833 bridge at Coanwood. The lines were lifted in 1967 and today the three miles of trackbed forms part of the North Pennine Heritage Trail. It is probably used by more people now than it was during its final years as a railway. There are plans to relay the rails. Enthusiasts have an engine and carriages which they shunt down from Slaggyford and apparently wish to take all the way to Haltwhistle.
We’ll see. An American billionaire has bought an old house and steading which he wants to develop as a holiday home and it is sited right where the proposed route of the new extension will be.
Part of the path’s attraction lies in the variety of scenery that it passes through. Our old friends the Rimmers live at one end of the viaduct in a beautiful, modern converted stone cottage with an enormous picture window through which you can see for miles down the river valley.
In summer when the leaves are still on the trees, all you can see are trees. From the actual viaduct though there is a most spectacular view of the river South Tyne, whatever the season.
This is an image of the view from the parapet. In the course book I was surprised to learn, it says it was always intended to construct the viaduct in wood.