Document1As many of you will know, Hexham Goods Yard Stables, which Hexham Civic Society attempted to save from demolition at the hands of developers Rokeby, Homebase and Network rail is now dismantled,  having been saved from total destruction by Beamish Museum, at the request of HCS.

The story of the Stables, along with a number of other northern historic buildings, will be televised this Thursday evening on BBC1 at 7:30 in the programme ‘Restoring England’s Heritage‘. It’s a regional broadcast so if you aren’t in the North East or Cumbria, you can find the programme online here:

There is a discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #restoringengland so it would be great if you could join in and have your say on these wonderful buildings.

And if you could spread the word among friends, family and colleagues please, that’d be great.

Meerkat Films have produced the documentary, which we understand will feature recent HCS Committee member Pat Caris.


Prosser Goods Shed DoorsWe are pleased to be able to announce that the massive sliding shed doors to Prosser Goods Shed are now to be retained in situ by developers Network Rail and prospective occupiers of the Goods Shed, Majestic Wine. HCS had argued that the large doors were an important part of the character of the unlisted Prosser Goods Shed at Hexham Station but unfortunately no provision was made in the plans approved by NCC in February 2013 for their retention.

HCS felt that they would be an asset to the new occupants, and that they should be kept as part of the original character and fabric of the building. We are pleasedProsser Goods Shed Doors (2) to report that  Network Rail / Majestic are now in the process of refurbishing the doors for retention.

We thank them both for their positive approach to this issue.

Hexham Stables being dismantled, September 2013

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

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.

Walsingham Planning (who acted with Rokeby’s in successfully achieving planning permission to pull down buildings at Hexham Station) have entered the national press having been part of the team which has won the annual ‘Carbuncle Cup’ for Britain’s ugliest new building. Readers with good memories will recall Walsingham Planning’s Director Mark Krassowski extolling the design virtues of the imminent Homebase sheds soon to be erected abutting the Grade II Hexham Station. NCC Planning Committee were pleased to unanimously approve the proposal (one abstention) despite the objections of the NCC Conservation Officer, the national Victorian Society and numerous Hexham residents.

Acting for the developers of student accommodation in Islington, London, the same team won approval on appeal for their 11 storey complex against the wishes of Islington Council Officers and Planning Committee.

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. (more…)

While Hexham, in thrall to developers Rokeby and Homebase, prepares for the bulldozers to move in and demolish the Warehouseman’s Bothy and the historic Stables building at Hexham Station (other stables by the same NER Architect Wm Bell, to  a similar design, at Monkwearmouth and at York are Grade II listed) –  others are about to celebrate their rail heritage.

See press release below from our friends at Beamish Museum.

Beamish Georgians gather for Cross Country Rail Trip

Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership’s 175th Anniversary Celebrations of Newcastle-Carlisle line
Tuesday, 18th June 2013

Beamish staff and volunteers will be donning their Georgian costumes for the 175th anniversary celebrations of the opening of the Newcastle to Carlisle railway line, the oldest coast to coast passenger line in the UK.  The festivities have been organised by the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership.

On Tuesday, 18th June, the Georgian folk will be helping to engage commuters in the story of the line, its historical importance and, of course, to make them aware of its birthday celebration! (more…)

HCS Talk Playbill 24 06 13