Hexham and the History of Railways

in the North East

200+ attend free talk arranged by Hexham Civic Society

Dr Bill Fawcett

Many thanks to all HCS members and friends who made Monday night such a success.

On Monday evening at the Queen’s Hall, Beaumont Street, Hexham, Dr William Fawcett delivered a free talk on the history of ‘Hexham and Railway’s in the North East’ to a packed house at an event organised by Hexham Civic Society. Over 200 audience members heard Dr Fawcett describe Hexham’s unique role as the earliest remaining operational passenger station in the world, and as a key point in the development of cross country transport routes – including the abortive Carlisle to Newcastle canal network. Showing rare images of Hexham station in days gone by, it was remarkable both how much of good quality remained, but also what sad losses there had been in recent years, including the loss of very large cantilevered signal boxes at Alemouth Road and towards Warden.

Ironically the 24th June was also the day on which the demolition contract for the railway buildings to be flattened as part of the new Homebase scheme at Hexham station was due to be issued.  Dr Fawcett described Hexham as having been until recently almost a unique survival of an intact integrated railway site, more typical of a heritage preservation line than one in operational use. The talk was preceded by the Hexham Civic Society AGM, where the present committee was re-elected. HCS, along with Hexham Town Council, the County Council Conservation Officer and English Heritage, had objected to the Homebase scheme on design grounds but were defeated by the decision to approve by NCCs West Area Planning Committee in February 2013.

Dr. Bill Fawcett, formerly of York University, has lectured and published extensively on railway and architectural history, twice receiving the David St. John Thomas award for best transport history book of the year. He has also assisted with the historical background to Conservation Development Strategies for many railway buildings. He is editor of the journal York Historian, serves on a panel set up by City of York Council to advise on developments within conservation areas, and is a member of the Railway Heritage Trust advisory panel. His books are available to purchase in Cogito Books on St Mary’s Chair, Hexham