It has been a quieter month on the public front for ABTRA but a busy one behind the scenes.
So far we have approached a local museum with a view to a display of local railway history, and while we have not made or been offered any firm commitment we have taken away many ideas to digest. One idea is for a portable exhibition of local railway history which could be toured around the area to broadcast the interesting heritage of the area. We are currently inviting people to contribute their ideas for these displays, please make contact via our group Secretary.
On a second front, we are re-invigorating our websites to reflect changes in our proposals and also to hopefully incorporate a feature for online donations. More on this once a launch is ready.
Please as ever feel welcome to share this blog with friends and family who might be interested in the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Railway.
If you are new to ABTRA, this short introduction should hopefully explain what we are about:
”Hello, we are the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Railway Association and we would like to go back to basics and tell you what we are about.
We formed in 2016 after the growing impression that much of the history of the railways in the area is under represented locally, and that significant survivors such as Bedlington Station were becoming increasingly threatened.
In Bedlingtonshire (just a small part of our area), the railway story began in the early 1600’s with the early waggonways, developing through the industrial revolution with the creation of the Longridge works. This was one of the very early locomotive builder’s and produced the first locomotives to work in Holland and Italy, and also was the area which developed the malleable iron rail, which revolutionised rail transportation.
In the broader SE Northumberland area, the Blyth and Tyne company was one of the last independent companies in the Newcastle area (absorbed by the North Eastern Railway in 1874), this independence almost led to the route becoming an alternative route to Scotland with the highly competitive North British pushing through along the Wannie Line.
The area was also home to a multitude of industrial lines, many of which linked to and crossed the ‘mainline’ giving the area a complex and fascinating railway history stretching a little over 400 years.
This intense railway area also produced some excellent railway talent through engineers such as Sir Daniel Gooch. He went on to found Swindon Works, engineering home to the Great Western Railway, and who was a relation of the Longridge family who owned the locomotive works in Bedlington.
It is the intention of ABTRA to bring this amazing history to the fore, not only for local residents, but for the potential tourism opportunities it may afford the area and protecting what remains from being lost.
We are intending to raise funds to complete a number of projects, which we are presently developing but we would like to invite the local residents to comment on our proposals to help shape them.
We wish to see the local railways thrive through the potential of passenger re-opening, as well as continuing freight use, but we do believe that a heritage scheme might be possible and would complement a modern railway alongside. We are presently developing this idea with a view to using a presently disused line to the north of Ashington, on which we could operate heritage steam and diesel locomotives from the area with appropriate carriages and waggons to recreate the essence of the old Blyth and Tyne line.
We are working closely alongside SENRUG to ensure any of our projects do not conflict with the proposed passenger re-opening and we are intending that any chosen site would not be in the way of any other development of the local railway network.
Please share this post with friends who might be interested in taking part in our discussion, and perhaps becoming more actively involved.
We look forward to hearing from you!”
Thanks for reading and we hope to bring you further updates soon!
Yours, R. H., Chairman.