Tyneside's Metro celebrates its 175th anniversary with a day of steam

Rail enthusiasts mark the 175th anniversary of the world's first commuter line with a stream train journey through North Tyneside


Rail enthusiasts got a chance to turn back the clock to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the world’s first commuter line.

Passengers were able to take a newly restored Kitson No.5 stream train for a journey through North Tyneside to recreate the first journeys made on the historic Newcastle and North Shields Railway.

When it was built in 1839, the line was considered the first metropolitan railway in the world and was created to help people living in the growing suburbs to get to work in Newcastle.

Today the Metro still runs on the same track between Chillingham Road in Heaton, Newcastle and North Shields in North Tyneside and visitors to Percy Main Metro station were able to walk a few hundred yards to catch a steam train to the Stephenson Railway Museum at Middle Engine Lane in North Tyneside.

Geoff Woodward, manager of Stephenson Railway Museum, said: “We’re very pleased to be working with Nexus and Tyne & Wear Metro for this very significant occasion.

“To travel by steam train is a wonderful experience. The sounds and smells are like no other and on this anniversary it will be particularly exciting.”

Huw Lewis, head of communications at Nexus, which owns and manages Metro, said: “North East England led the way in the development of the early railways and we are delighted to be marking this anniversary with events at North Shields and at Stephenson Railway Museum to help tell that story.

“The Newcastle and North Shields Railway was really the great-great grandfather of the modern Metro system and we have been looking at the history of it and this line came together at the exact time builder Richard Grainger and architect John Dobson were coming up with their masterplan for Newcastle and creating Grainer Town.

“They had at that time a vision for the city’s growth - something today we would call urban regeneration. The railway line was all part of that.”

Sharon Thompson, 44, from Sunderland took a ride on the steam train with her son Liam, aged seven.

She said: “My son has been train mad for the last five years and he does know a lot about steam trains so this is a massive treat for him.

“Events like this bring the history of the railways to life and he just loves to see the steam engines as they were in the past.”

Actors dressed as railway pioneer George Stephenson and inventor Humphry Davy sat with visitors during their journey.

A brass band also performed at North Shields Metro station, the original terminus of the historic line and where a plaque was unveiled to mark the 175th anniversary.


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