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  Manors Station and Trafalgar Goods


Manors station originated as the temporary terminus of the Newcastle and North Shields Railway, opened in 1839, and developed into the most complex of the NER's suburban traffic stations. It reached its full extent in 1909 when it began handling traffic from the Blyth & Tyne section of the NER, formerly dealt with at New Bridge Street station, but from 1978 onwards was sidelined by the construction of new city-centre links by the Tyne & Wear Metro. It has been reduced to an unimportant wayside halt on the local service between Newcastle and Morpeth and relatively little of the NER building now survives.

Two significant buildings for goods traffic were built nearby during 1848-9 by the Newcastle & Berwick Railway. Trafalgar Street Goods was the first major goods station to be erected in Newcastle and was a notable work by the architect John Dobson; it was demolished in 1906-7 to make way for a link to the Blyth & Tyne route. Manors (also known as Pandon Dene) Corn Warehouse was designed by the architects John and Benjamin Green, but was gutted in a 1941 air raid, although its imposing shell survived for three further decades..

Ordnance Survey town plan showing the vicinity of Manors Station in the 1850s. An open remnant of the Pandon Burn can be seen at top right. The new gaol, which occupied the centre of Carliol Square, had been designed by Dobson in his fortress style, and was begun in 1823. Its site was later adopted for the telephone exchange. The 1839 passenger station lies just to the right of the prison wall while the 1848 viaduct to Central Station takes off at the bottom..

The chief topographical feature of the immediate area was the steep-sided valley of the Pandon Burn, which had been partially culverted by the time the railway arrived although the profile of the dene remains evident to the south of City Road. The North Shields company originally intended to build a fine passenger terminus on Pilgrim Street but this was deferred pending discussions about linking up with the Carlisle line, so in 1839 they made do with a depot immediately south of the new prison in Carliol Square. To the east of this the land sloped down into Pandon Dene and the railway approached its terminus across a stone bridge provided to accommodate a future extension of Trafalgar Street.

A modern view of the north end of Trafalgar Street bridge. The original route continued to the right into the 1839 terminus but the last vestiges of that vanished during motorway construction in the 1960s. The girder at the left bore the start of the 1909 route to New Bridge Street.

The stone cavern at Trafalgar Street was designed by the architect John Green, who was responsible for all the company's major bridges, and the mildly gothic treatment of the pilaster strips seen here is echoed in the piers of his Ouseburn Viaduct.

The Carliol Square depot in 1857, depicted in the 1/500 OS town plan. Trafalgar Street is towards the right. By then the original passenger terminus had been replaced by a new station (bottom right) on the link line to Central Station.

'Carliol Square' was little more than a name for the roads surrounding Dobson's lofty prison walls, with the railway passing at an elevated level along the south side. Had all gone according to the original plan it would then have bridged the street known as The Manors to reach a Pilgrim Street terminus. Instead, to begin with the company only purchased a small portion of land beyond Trafalgar Street, providing there a temporary passenger platform and office, corresponding to the platform shown in the plan above which seems to have been built onto the rear of an existing house facing onto the 'square'.

In 1841 they purchased further land to extend the depot right up to The Manors. The passenger station remained where it was but the office was extended and evidently given a cantilevered canopy to accompany the two stone platforms, 27 inches (69cm) high. These were much higher than most railways of that time would have felt necessary. Much of the remaining area was occupied by a coal and goods depot, with an entrance off Manors guarded by a weigh-bridge office in the characteristic 'Jacobethan' style of John Green's son, Benjamin.

Benjamin Green's office building at the entrance to the Carliol Square depot from The Manors. It is seen in the 1960s, looking south, with the depot site on the left, turned into a parking area for buses. Worswick Street Bus Station had been opened nearby following the opening of the New Tyne Bridge. Part of the Central Motorway East is seen under construction behind.

The North Shields Railway was purchased by George Hudson's Newcastle & Berwick Railway to give them access into Newcastle, with the Berwick line branching off at Heaton Junction and continuing on from Manors to Central Station. The extension to Central Station was carried on the Newcastle Viaduct, which took off just east of Trafalgar Street bridge, so a new station building was provided in the angle between the two lines while the old terminus was retained as a coal depot. East of the bridge, a large goods station was built on the north side of the line and a tall corn warehouse on the south.

Manors station was only half a mile from Central Station yet its retention was justified because it was conveniently located for the town centre, with easy access to the Quayside and Pilgrim Street. The 'new' station building was commissioned from John Dobson and was a smart stone pavilion, with both facades treated as a 6-bay arcade framed by corner piers with prominent rustication (i.e. heavily-channelled joints). In the ensuing decades it would become enveloped in further waiting rooms and a long line of platform roofing but lasted until about 1906, when its site became needed for the link line to New Bridge Street.

John Dobson's Manors Station: composite view of the entrance and platform elevations. The arcaded treatment can be read as a gesture towards his platform frontage at Central Station.

Initially, the new Manors platforms were devoid of roofing but they were enlarged and provided with extensive roofing in 1872-3. However, the line was becoming congested and during 1884-7 it was widened to four tracks from Manors to Heaton Junction. This entailed the reconstruction of Manors station with four platforms although platform 1 was retained in its existing form.

Manors Station, seen from the SE, in 1987. On the left, City Road heads under the plate girder bridge required for the line widening, with the earlier stone arch of the line to Central Station seen beyond. The boarded-up archway to the right of the bridge led into a passage, incorporating the former Croft Lane, which gave access to the station via lengthy stairs. The new platforms were at the level of the stone band below the top-floor windows.

The fall of the land placed the new platforms well above street level on the south side of the station so William Bell designed a three-storey building with a curved frontage sweeping round from City Road to Trafalgar Street. Lettable shops and offices occupied the lower floors with station offices upstairs. A notable feature was the enormously long flight of stairs leading up from the south entrance to platform 4; Fortunately this would have been used chiefly by commuters arriving rather than departing.

View from the west end of platform 9 (formerly No. 4 in 1887) c1970, with a train of LNER electric stock heading towards North Shields and Tynemouth. The ridge and furrow roof on the island platform (7 & 8, formerly 2 & 3) is strongly reminiscent of that at Tynemouth station (built 3 years earlier) except for the use of timber sarking and slates on the lower slope rather than full glazing. The roof on platform 9 has been darkened by substituting corrugated cladding for the original ridge light.

The platform 4 roof during demolition in the 1980s, showing the very high standard of the ironwork. The building was constructed by the notable public works contractor Sir Walter Scott (1826-1910). He was born near Silloth, set up his own business in Newcastle in 1849, and worked extensively for the NER as well as on the national stage. The glazed screen to the right of the ironwork admitted light from the platform into the great stair.

The construction of the link line from Manors to New Bridge Street, opened in 1909, involved big changes at the station. Platforms 2 to 4 remained as they were but platform 1 had to be pushed east to make way for the new line and its accompanying platforms; these were designated Manors North station and numbered 1 to 5, while the old platforms were designated Manors East and re-numbered 6 to 9.

Manors North comprised two through platforms for the local service to the coast (electrified in 1904) and three terminal bays. A separate passenger subway was provided for the new station but a footbridge was also built, serving all nine platforms.

The enlarged station seen from platform 9, with platforms 1 and 2 immediately ahead.

The formal entrance to Manors North was from a forecourt opening off Trafalgar Street, which was the setting for a hip-roofed booking hall crowned by a clock turret. The new station was a classic example of the late work from Bell's office, with elegant platform roofing employing trussed steel beams to achieve a structure which was light in every sense of the word. Credit for this should go to Robert Arthur Parkin, who was the structural specialist in Bell's office and also by then Chief Draughtsman. The contrast, side by side, of the 1909 and 1886 roofs, both excellent examples of their type, highlighted technical development without loss of style.

 Platform 1: the new roof displayed the three castles from Newcastle's coat of arms in the spandrel brackets.

Platform 2 (left) and the bay platforms.

Platform 2, looking north, was served by both ramp and steps from the new subway. Note the very light steelwork of the roof in contrast to most railways of that period.

Manors North was ultimately made redundant by the creation of the Metro and closed in 1978 to facilitate the creation of an underground route from Jesmond to Central Station via Haymarket. This part of the station was eventually dismantled in 1985, with some of its components being sold for re-use elsewhere: notably the Marsden Rattler public house in South Shields. Manors East lost its principal role with the creation of an underground Metro route to take the North Shields trains and its residual traffic justifies no more than a short, bleak island platform. William Bell's elegant quadrant substructure of shops and offices survives, neatly shorn of its top storey.

The Manors Grain Warehouse

The Manors grain warehouse, built for the Newcastle & Berwick Railway in 1848-9, stood just south of the North Shields line and was a six-storey building designed to take advantage of the fall of the land. Thus rail access was into the top floor and carts attended at the bottom; two lines of hoist doors were provided on each of the long sides. It was designed by John and Benjamin Green, who articulated what would have been a vertical strip of uniform windows by dividing the building half-way up with a deep band of smooth masonry. Below this the facade was treated as a huge plinth, with bold rough-faced masonry; above this they employed smooth, dressed stone framed by boldly rusticated corner piers. The outcome was a powerful looking design, which was indeed a very sturdy structure, with three feet thick sandstone walls lined on the inside with brick. Arched heads to the windows and hoist doors of the top floor provided a visual link to Dobson's station building. The floors were timber framed, with a clearance (floor to joist) of about nine feet, and presumably employed an internal grid of cast-iron columns.

The top floor enjoyed good natural lighting, with glazing along the three roof ridges, and provided an unloading area (approximately 74 by 90 feet internally) served by three railway tracks. The supposition is that the outer ones were for business and the middle track would have been a wagon release road served by a cross-track and turnplates. The land to the north was retained by steep sandstone walls to the half-way height of the building, which gave a canyon-like feel to the road approach. Above this the ground sloped steeply up to the railway. The 1884-7 line widening brought the running lines closer to the warehouse and the rail access was altered to a siding running under an external awning. For years the warehouse was a prominent feature in the townscape but it became partly lost to view with the construction of the Pandon generating station (1901) for Newcastle Corporation's electric tramways.

Manors 'Corn Loft' c1970. The white post formerly bore the overhead contact wires for the electric locomotives which the NER introduced to work their Quayside Branch.

The active life of the grain warehouse was brought to an abrupt end in September 1941, when it was set alight in the course of an air-raid which devastated the nearby New Bridge Street goods station. The massive stone shell survived in its entirety and the debris of the floors and columns was cleared out but the building was never reinstated. Three decades later it was demolished but the site then stood empty for a long while. The adaptation of the tramway power station and building of student flats nearby c2007 have since obscured much of the warehouse site but the retaining walls and the stubs of its east and west walls still remain.

Trafalgar Goods Station

Trafalgar Street goods station has vanished entirely. It was built in 1848-9 to the design of John Dobson, with a layout no doubt specified by Thomas Elliot Harrison, who was Robert Stephenson's right-hand man on the Newcastle & Berwick Railway project. It was a transhipment shed conceived on a grand scale: about 300 feet (90m) long and 150 feet (45m) broad, served by two tracks and evidently two platforms. It was roofed in five transverse spans, with cast-iron columns supporting the roof valleys, and the gable ends were given a fine formal treatment as classical pediments; the handling of the smaller, outer gables is particularly sophisticated. This weighty structure, again with three-foot external walls, was borne on unpromising material: town waste which, for years, had been dumped on top of a culverted stretch of the Pandon Burn to a depth of up to sixty feet. Dobson was experienced in dealing with awkward site conditions and employed extended concrete footings for the structure.

The station was served from an array of 5 sidings, of which only 2 are shown here. The office range was a three-storey building in a bold, simple style. There were also some offices within the end bays of the main shed, hence the chimneys seen behind the pediments in the drawing above.

Fifteen years later, the Blyth & Tyne Railway's Newcastle branch was completed to a terminus only a few hundred yards away and this must have raised doubts in the mind of T.E. Harrison, who had become NER Engineer in Chief. It was virtually certain that one day a link would be made between the two railways and the only practical route lay right through the middle of Trafalgar Goods, therefore it would not be sensible to develop this site further as the NER's principal Newcastle goods station. So Harrison got the NER to build large new premises at the Forth, although Trafalgar continued to perform a significant role. The NER proposed a link line, crossing the Trafalgar site, in 1874-5 but the scheme was deferred for thirty years. The completion of the ferro-concrete New Bridge Street goods station in 1906 enabled the demolition of Trafalgar Goods to begin. The building was less than sixty years old and one wonders where all that splendid ashlar sandstone was re-used,









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© W. Fawcett, 2011