Celebrating its 100th birthday in July, Monkseaton Station was constructed to replace the smaller structure first erected in 1859 slightly to the north of Osborne Gardens and close to the present medical centre. A gated level crossing took the tracks across Marine Avenue into what is now the entrance to Churchill Playing Fields. (Remnants of some of the old stone platforms are still evident at this edge of Souter Park).
Following demolition of the old station, discussions were held by Whitley Council and the North Eastern Railway Company to purchase the land. Successfully acquired in 1922, the area was laid out to form a park with tennis courts and bowling greens using unemployed labour. Councillor C.W. Souter, whose home in Osborne Gardens overlooked the old railway station, led the negotiations, and as a result, Souter Park was appropriately named in his honour.
The present station was built further to the west and therefore major realignment of the track was necessary, along with the construction of a new road bridge between Marine Avenue and Front Street. The work was completed in 1915, and in July of that year the new station opened for business.
Eight grassed lawns, gardens and flower-beds were situated in the wide gap between the up and down platforms, which were well tended by the staff. This was a feature believed to be unique in the country.
Large coal and goods sidings were laid south-east of the new station, which occupied the area where Morrisons supermarket and car park is now. A pedestrian footbridge was constructed to allow access between Norham Road and Marmion Terrace and a signal box stood close by.
Monkseaton station became an important stop on the Newcastle-Coast loop line, and therefore incorporated many facilities which included left luggage, goods and parcel offices, a rail booking office, waiting rooms with seating and coal fires, as well as all the usual platform kiosks and many of the services usually seen at larger stations.
As the station continued to develop the district became a popular residential area for businessmen whose offices were located in Newcastle, and with a journey time of less than half an hour, the dream of being able to live close to the coast was realised.
By the 1920s and 1930s, thousands of holidaymakers and day-trippers would flock to the coast from Newcastle and its suburbs, alighting at Monkseaton as it was just a short walk to the seaside for those who wished to avoid Whitley Bay Centre. By the end of the Second World War, the station was increasingly used by commuters and in 1953 was still a busy stop.
At this time, the station was overseen by five principal staff members: Mr J. Calder (Stationmaster), who also supervised West Monkseaton and Whitley Bay; George Halbert (Foreman); Elsie Sanderson (Clerk); Harry Ferguson (Ticket Collector) and Frank Appleby (Porter).
In 1979 the loop line and associated stations, including Monkseaton, were taken over to become part of the present Metro System which began to operate from 11th August 1980. Many stations, including Monkseaton, were surplus to requirements, but as an alternative to demolition the former waiting rooms, parcel offices and outbuildings were converted to accommodate a variety of local business uses. A hundred years of history is on our doorstep.
by Charlie Steel © 2015
Further reading for many of Charlie’s articles can be found in his books: ‘Monkseaton Village’ (Vol. 1 & 2), North Shields Public Houses, Inns & Taverns’ (Part 1 & 2) and ‘Tynemouth Remembered’ all published by Summerhill Books.