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THE BLYTH & TYNE OR BEAMISH OPEN AIR MUSEUM


Saturday 8th June 2024

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UK Railtours are pleased to bring you a classic itinerary which has proved popular time and time again in years gone by, but this time with an added twist and three different options which even further broaden its appeal! Our guests can choose to visit cosmopolitan Newcastle, family favourite Beamish Museum, or to stay on the train to enjoy another of our ‘Off the Beaten Track’ mini tours!

Our train, using our blue and grey ex-British Rail Mk2 carriages, will be hauled by double-headed class 43’s throughout. Beginning at Finsbury Park, this very special train will first head north via the East Coast Main Line – the traditional ‘stomping ground’ of the Class 43, allowing us to run at 100mph for much of the tour. After pickups at Potters Bar, Stevenage and Peterborough we blast toward our final pickup at Doncaster (Standard Class and First Class Non-Dining only). We set down at Durham before passing Tyne Yard and the Angel of the North on the approach to Newcastle.

After enjoying your selection from our supplementary options (see below), our return route is via the far less often used route following the North East coast, passing Sunderland and Hartlepool before we rejoin the ECML at Northallerton and head back toward London.

OFF TRAIN OPTION – BEAMISH OPEN AIR MUSEUM – featuring special event Horses in Harness 2024!

Coaches will be awaiting our arrival at Durham for the nine-mile transfer to Beamish. Here we will have a break of around four hours. Once inside, you can make your way around the site on foot, by tram or by vintage bus – just as you would have done in bygone times.

The date of our visit coincides with special event ‘Horses in Harness 2024’ offering visitors the chance to meet visiting horses, as well as many resident equines across the museum. This event is included in the entry fee.

Step off the tram at Beamish Town and go shopping in beautifully restored gaslit shops, call in at an old fashioned bank or enjoy a drink at the Sun Inn. The tram can also drop you at the waggonway where you can take a ride on a steam train dating from 1823. Or get off at the colliery village with its school and chapel, or maybe Pockerley Manor where family life was very different from that of the servants.

Since our last visit, the ‘Remaking Beamish’ project has been in full swing. You can now visit the 1950s town, meaning that once again Beamish includes a period within living memory. A fish and chip shop, café and hairdresser are already open, as well as a recreation of the home of celebrated artist Norman Cornish. The project is progressing all the time, so even more may be open before our visit.

This option includes entry to Beamish Open Air Museum as well as the coach transfer from Durham. On the return the coaches will take you back to Newcastle to reboard the train, as our return route does not pass through Durham.

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK MINI TOUR – THE BLYTH AND TYNE

If freight only lines are your thing, you might choose to stay on the train for our mini tour. The network of lines surrounding the present-day Blyth and Tyne freight-only route was quite complex back in the day, but even in its reduced state the core circuit beginning at Benton Junction remains a valuable part of the rail network on the East coast.

Departing Newcastle Central at 12.29, our special train proceeds north through Heaton Down Goods Loop and onto the East Coast Main Line. We pass the southern extremity of the Blyth and Tyne route at Benton Junction, continuing to Morpeth Junction where we join the Blyth and Tyne from the north.

Due to over-running engineering works in the Newsham area where a bridge is currently unpassable, we have had to change our original plans to traverse the entire line. Therefore we proceed the few miles to Bedlington where, with sincere thanks to Network Rail for agreeing access at this late stage, we will enter Bedlington Sidings (previously known as Bedlington Furnace Way sidings). We understand that ours will be the first passenger train to do so for several decades. Here, our locomotives will run round whilst we service the stock before resuming our originally anticipated route back to Newcastle via Morpeth Junction.

Before alighting at Newcastle, passengers will be treated to a circuit passing over both the King Edward and the High Level Bridges affording great views of the city, as well as passing the site of the former British Rail Gateshead depot.

The mini tour is scheduled scheduled to conclude at 15.12, leaving a break of just over two hours after we return to Newcastle so there’s plenty of time to grab a late lunch, or partake of a local public house perhaps?

FREE TIME IN DURHAM AND/OR NEWCASTLE

If you decide not to go for one of the aforementioned options then you could choose to spend the day in historic Durham or contemporary Newcastle. The view of Durham Cathedral and Castle from the train is one of the East Coast Main Line’s finest sights. The compact city is mounted upon a lofty sandstone outcrop, almost made an island by a tight-necked loop of the River Wear. The cobbled streets of Durham play host to shops, cafes and bars whilst those seeking a taste of history can visit the Museum of Archaeology or the Town Hall, central to life in Durham for more than 650 years.

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is the largest city and metropolitan borough in the northeast. Alongside the aforementioned bridges, the city also hosts a huge variety of museums and monuments such as the grade-1 listed Grey’s Monument built in 1838. A great mix of independent boutiques, high street favourites and malls make Newcastle fantastic for shopping. Newcastle is also home to one of the five Chinatowns in the UK, a thriving district guarded by an 11m tall Chinese arch.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE TRAIN DOES NOT CALL AT DURHAM ON THE RETURN JOURNEY. Customers taking free time in Durham will need to make their own way to Newcastle to rejoin the train. There are regular service trains from Durham to Newcastle (not included in your tour fare).

First Class Dining includes The Great British Breakfast and a four course dinner. A buffet car is available for those in Standard Class and First Class Non Dining. First Class Dining is not available from Doncaster.

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