Newcastle [Shot Tower]

Location type


Name and dates

Newcastle [Shot Tower] (1839-1847)

Opened on the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway.

Note: text in square brackets is added for clarity and was not part of the location's name.


This was the original terminus of the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway in Newcastle opened on the 21st of May 1839, the east end of an extension built from Blaydon over the River Tyne via the Scotswood Viaduct and along the north bank. It immediately replaced Redheugh as the terminus for Newcastle and was on the western edge of Newcastle in undeveloped land high above the Tyne, three quarters of a mile west of the old town walls.

The Act provided for a terminus in Thornton Street, approached by inclined plane from the riverside. At the 1839 annual shareholders meeting of the company, the situation was explained

The directors, in their last year's report, drew the attention of the shareholders to the great improvements in the line which they had acquired the power to make on the north banks of the Tyne, by and arrangement for the purchase, on fair terms, of the land required for the puprose. On this land, near the lead-works of Messrs. Walker, Parker, and company, the principal depot for Newcastle will be placed; from which, to preserve a communication with the original Parliamentary line, an inclined plane, to be wrought by a fixed engine, will be made from east of the Newcastle subscription water works, to the intended new quays, on the shore west of the Skinner Burn, and to the depot there, for the convenience of the trade of the river, and the lower parts of the town; thus making the main depot useful for all purposes. These arrangements have occupied much of the time and anxious consideration of the directors, and have been determined upon as the best in all respects for the interests of the company; as, by these means, passengers will be brought at once to their destination by locomotive power, and without the intervention of an inclined plane, as was originally contemplated.

The station was located on the appropriately named Railway Street, to its south, north of the Elswick Lead Works, near Tyneside Terrace and Shot Factory Lane. Early accounts of the location either use the lead works (particularly its well known shot tower) or the Newcastle Infirmary to describe the location. The infirmary was a well known landmark, seen on the skyline. The station was south west beyond Knox's Field. At this stage the railway did not impinge on the hospital grounds.

The opening was described thus in the Newcastle Journal
On the 21st May that portion of the line between Blaydon and the company's depot near the Shot Tower, Newcastle, was opened for traffic amidst a great concourse of spectators, by the directors, accompanied by the engineer, J. Blackmore Esq., and the principal contractors.

Francis Whishaw in 1842 decribed the terminus
At the Newcastle terminus there is but a temporary shed at present; but the intended station and depot are to be on the large scale, the land taken for this purpose not being less than fifteen acres. There are four lines of way leaving the temporary station.

It was fortunate the original planned alignment was not built. The railway was extended east by the Forth Banks Viaduct opened in 1846 (to goods and minerals only presumably initially) and to a new passenger terminus Newcastle [Forth] at the former 'Forth', just south of Nelville Street, in 1847. This extension would, from 1851, serve Newcastle Central.

The incline did indeed run down from the high level, passing under Pottery Lane to reach a jetty by the glass works.

Following 1847 the site became the western end of the considerable Forth Banks Goods. An engine shed, and other sheds, were located here at the start of the climb onto the viaduct. Sidings were on either side of the line. The goods yard was on the south side, approached from the west.

Forth Banks Goods's original sandstone goods shed of 1854 was moved to the west end of Newcastle Central in 1873 to become a carriage shed. The goods yard was hugely expanded. In 1904 the railway bought back from the infirmary a piece of land to its south. The Infirmary Sidings, cattle docks, were established here next to the relocated Newcastle Cattle Market.

The approach from Scotswood has been enormously cut back since the closure of the Scotswood Viaduct. Today a siding from Newcastle Central leads to a loop on roughly the site of the station, the line continues a short way to William Armstrong Drive, out of use and overgrown.


Station terminus

External links

NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67