The largest impact on the economical and social revolution of the nineteenth century was the railways. Rail travel was 50% cheaper than the coach and as a result opened up Britain. In a Commenorative Pamphlet to Celebrate the Grand Opening of the Newcastle to North Shields Railway, on Waterloo Day 18th June 1839, the writer exclaims .....

"I foresee a time when people will travel in great numbers to work, for holidays (weeks, weekends, and day trips). Newspapers will be delivered hundreds of miles in the same day and fresh food will be brought in from the countryside to towns and cities. The reign of Victoria will see every hamlet village and town connected by rail to provide a tight knit national community which will exert a mighty influence over the rest of the world."

Perishable goods could be transported quickly and this made food cheaper. Seaside villages became places to visit with even the working class being able to travel third class in open carriages. It wasn't long before advertisements for houses included references to the proximity of the railways. Gangs of pickpockets used the newly formed rail networks to ply their trade.

However, not everyone was happy with the new railways:

"The rivermen have called the building of the new railway a "poverty producing measure", and the owners of gigs, coaches and steam packets have been extremely angry about the project. Shopkeepers in North Shields fear that their customers will forsake them for the Newcastle shops - tempted by the single fare of 2d, first class for the seven miles and and intended time for the journey of 20 minutes. ... Large numbers of Newcastle tradesmen have already placed adverts in the local newspaper to attract customers."

The advent of the railway changed the towns of Whitley Bay and Tynemouth forever. Whitley Bay and Tynemouth became fashionable places to go on holiday. Tynemouth Station opened in 1882 with its glass and wrought iron canopy to let in the light but shield passengers from the weather.

" The greater part of the Northern Counties and South Scotland may be said to be under the preponderating influence of the enterprise of the North Eastern Railway Company .......And when the tourist is settled in the Northumbrian watering place - often with the kindly help of the Company's list of apartments - there are half-day trips, cheap Saturday fares, facilities for daily re-unions, booklets full of useful information respecting coaches, golf links and generally how to move about. No wonder that the North Eastern Railway system has in such a phenomenally short time become dotted with favourite districts where tourists of varied taste come year after year." [The Illustrated Guide to Whitley Bay & District etc. Gibson]


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