Classic stations: Newcastle Central

Newcastle Central is a listed building, the city’s major transport hub, and acts as both a terminus and a through station. Graeme Pickering recalls the station’s impressive past and assesses plans recently outlined for the future.

NEWCASTLE Central station is widely regarded as one of the finest in the country.
Its neo-classical frontage and sheer scale makes it particularly imposing.

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The curved roof led the way in the design of multi-span train sheds, and it is among just a handful of still operational stations which are Grade I listed.

Its well-preserved fabric is perfectly in keeping with its surroundings on the city’s Neville Street, and belies the fact it has seen numerous changes over the course of almost 170 years as rail traffic has evolved.

Newcastle Central station portico from the west. As part of a project completed in 2014 it was glazed and made an interior feature of the station. A much grander portico had originally been envisaged by architect John Dobson, but the station was in fact completed without one, and this was added 13 years after opening to a Thomas Prosser design. GRAEME PICKERING 

It is about to witness more as part of a £5.2million improvement project, which was approved earlier this year by Newcastle City Council.

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Central station is the most well-known work of acclaimed architect John Dobson, who was born just a few miles away at High Chirton, near North Shields, but like many other railway projects of its time, reference to the circumstances surrounding its conception would be incomplete without the mention of two other prominent figures: Robert Stephenson and George Hudson.

An LNER Mk4 set with DVT nearest sits in platform 3, while Class 158 No. 158793 and Class 142 ‘Pacer’ No. 142094 stand in platforms 6 and 8, respectively, in this view. GRAEME PICKERING

Such was the level of Hudson’s involvement in the finance and construction of railways that he became known as the ‘Railway King’. However, his fall from grace before the station’s completion had a major impact on the project.

The Great North of England Railway planned to build a line from York to Newcastle, but exhausted its capital on reaching Darlington.

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Its eventual intention had been to extend to Scotland, but when the scheme faltered, the Board of Trade recommended that unless parties could be found to take over the work, progress should be made on an alternative route via the west coast.

Read more and view more images in the October 2019 issue of The RM – on sale now!

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