Hexham Stables being dismantled, September 2013
Hexham Civic Society is pleased to announce that the Hexham Goods Yard Stables has been spared the wrecking ball, having been rescued at the last moment by Beamish Museum. As reported in the Hexham Courant, Look North, BBC and on BBC Radio Newcastle, Beamish has stepped in and saved the building. Pat Caris, a member of the HCS, approached Beamish for their help when it became clear that the building was to be demolished.
HCS had fought tooth and nail for retention of the building in 2012-13 when developers Rokeby and Network Rail, sought to clear the site for their client Homebase. We contended that the building had historic interest and should be considered as part of the curtilage of the Grade II Hexham Station. Unfortunately, Northumberland County Council did not make a determination on whether the building should be treated as ‘curtilage listed’ (requiring listed building consent for demolition) and in February 2013 its planning committee granted conservation area consent for their demolition (Refs 12/02918/CON and 12/02917/FUL ).
This was against the advice of the Council’s own conservation officer and the opposition of English Heritage, the Victorian Society, Hexham Civic Society, Hexham Town Council and many local residents who believed that the building could be re-used as a beneficial part of the scheme.
In a last-ditch bid to save historic stables at Hexham Railway Station from
Hexham Stables August 2012
demolition, Hexham Civic Society asked government watchdogs English Heritage to give final word on whether the buildings should be statutorily listed. Sadly for Hexham Stables, while similar designs by the same North Eastern Railway’s Chief Architect William Bell, have been listed at Monkwearmouth in Sunderland, and at York, English Heritage has declined to list the Hexham buildings. English Heritage determined that the building is not of ‘national importance’, stating that ‘the building has historic interest as one of few surviving stables on the Newcastle to Carlisle railway line, but this is of a local rather than a national nature”. “While of local interest as a late example of a stable constructed for the North East Railway, the building lacks the special interest demanded for national designation and is therefore not recommended for listing.”
The stables, opened in January 1901, are believed to be one of the few NER (North Eastern Railways) stables still standing – alongside the surviving Monkwearmouth stables, also designed by NER Chief Architect William Bell, and protected by Grade II listed status since 2002. HCS maintained that the building could have been retained as a useful part of the site, and used as start-up business/employment space. Hexham Station (1835) itself vies with Edge Hill Station (1836) in Liverpool, as the oldest operational passenger Station in the UK.
Now the Stables building are to be saved for the North East, if not for Hexham.
An HCS spokesperson said “It is a great shame that the building will be lost from Hexham, but it is excellent that they will nonetheless survive at Beamish. We regret that we were not able to open the eyes of either planning officers or Development Control Planning Committee at Northumberland County Council, or the developers Rokeby, Network Rail and Homebase to the possibility of reuse of this unique building on site. We thank Beamish, and in particular its Director Richard Evans and his team, for their efforts in securing the building.
English Heritage recognise the importance of this building, but stated that as other similar examples are already listed, the Hexham stables are not to be granted protection. It is a sad reflection on the eagerness to embrace development at any cost that NCC and its Planning Committee are happy to see this building swept away to make room for a dozen car parking spaces. We feel that in the hands of an imaginative developer, and a Council concerned with the protection of the historic environment, this building could have been usefully retained”.
It is very likely that Hexham Station Stables will remain standing – albeit 20 miles away – when the Homebase shed has itself rusted into history. If you wish to support the work of Hexham Civic Society please join us.