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Beamish are to rescue Hexham Goods Stables from re-development plans with the aim of reconstructing them within The Town at a future date. Hexham Goods Stables is a brick and slate building dating from 1901, it was built as a later addition to the original 1830’s and subsequently listed Newcastle and Carlisle Railway Station. However, the Stable itself was not listed, perhaps overlooking an important aspect of how the Station functioned.
As well as the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway, lines from the Station included the iconic Border Counties route to Riccarton Junction (Edinburgh) opened in 1862 and the Allendale branch in 1867. Traffic on these two routes was bolstered by the local lead mines and collieries. Yet, the small populations surrounding these rural routes, coupled with relatively low ticket sales for the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway, meant that the traffic through Hexham Station was focused primarily around its goods yard.
Locally sourced stone, coal, coke, livestock, as well as general merchandise, were transported to Hexham Station either for sale at the town’s market or for further movement along the main Newcastle and Carlisle line. Yet, while the Station’s Goods Shed has been listed, the Stables have been ignored. Horses would have been a vital aspect of the Station’s day to day running, as they helped to move, hoist and load goods.
The construction of the Stables in 1901 emphasises the continued reliance into the C20th on horse power for haulage, as well as their operational importance to the management of Goods Yard and Station.
Railway historians and enthusiasts have studied and documented many aspects of the historic railway, yet it remains the case that the status and passing of the ‘railway horse’ has been under regarded, and the buildings related to their use routinely demolished along with other local goods facilities.
The Hexham Goods Stables are owned by the Network Rail and is sited in a Conservation Area.
The entire goods yard area is to be redeveloped and the Stables have planning approval for demolition. However, the Hexham Civic Society has asked Beamish to consider dismantling the Stables, in order that they can be re-built at the Museum’s site. Both the HSC and the Museum itself feel that the Stables are a valuable part of the local community’s heritage and while they are crucial to the cohesion of Hexham’s Station Yard, trans-locating them to Beamish would be the best way of ‘saving them’.
As a late addition to the earlier C. 19th N&C stone buildings at Hexham, it is unsurprising that this later and unremarkable brick building, at a slight distance from the main group was not included for listing by English Heritage, if only for group value. However, this is surely to miss the point; it is the very ordinariness and typical form of this building which makes it special and representative – the very reasons for which we would like to add it to the Museum. The Museum is all about the life and work of ordinary people in the region; this potential project fits our mission exactly.
The Stables themselves are approximately 68’ long, 32’ wide and 28’ 9” high to the ridge. The wire cut red bricks are from Birtley and of local clay. There is no recent pointing and the mortar is sort and lime based. The walls are 9” solid. The roof still has its original welsh slate roof with the slates in good condition. The main ground floor stable has had its stable fittings removed some years ago before it was re-used for a variety of retail purposes (Beamish holds collections of suitable material for the re-instatement of these fittings and fixtures).
The hay loft above this is largely unchanged, and has a traditional trussed purlin and rafter roof, that is in sound order and of good quality pine. The span is such that two purlins are present to each roof face. Additionally, the roof is sarked under the slate. To the west gable there is a large lean-to which may date a little later than the main build; this area was clearly use for feed and tack, and has two ranges and chimneys.
Beamish has developed our own team of highly skilled brick layers and masonry specialist who will reconstruct the building within the vicinity of our own recreated North East railway station as part of an incremental development programme over the next several years. It would be a wonderful to see the Stables recreated and reunited with our NER four-wheel rolley and filled with Shire horses once more standing its it stalls.
Before dismantling Beamish will commission full architects record drawings of the building as well as rectified photography.
The building is to be dismantled by hand using hand held machinery only. It is expected that all re-useable material will be reclaimed; including all brick, slate, timber and boarding. No mortar, concrete flooring or walling, plaster or fibre board material is expected to be reclaimed, nor any lathe work, roofing lats or felt.
A special thank you to the Heritage Railway Trust who donated £45,000 towards the deconstruction of Hexham Goods Yard Stables.