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July 29, 2021 @ 6:00 pm

The First Tanfield Railway – Book Launch and Talk with Les Turnbull

Join Les Turnbull to celebrate the launch of his latest publication, 'The First Tanfield Railway.' In line...

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Join Les Turnbull to celebrate the launch of his latest publication, ‘The First Tanfield Railway.’ In line with our Covid Safety Statement, if you intend to visit as part of a group, please ensure one person in your party books all tickets.

About this event

Join Les Turnbull at The Common Room for a special talk about his latest publication, ‘The First Tanfield Railway’.

Location: Lecture Theatre, The Common Room, Westgate Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 1SE

The Common Room is taking a number of precautions to mitigate the risk to the public regarding COVID-19. Face masks should be worn by adults at all times unless medically except and visitors should practice 2-metre social distancing. For further information on our COVID-19 protocol please visit our home page: thecommonroom.org.uk

Event timings

– Arrive from 5:30pm

– Talk begins at 6:00pm

– Q&A from 7:00pm

– Event close at 7:15pm

About ‘The First Tanfield Railway’

The Tanfield Railway is one of the treasured heritage railways of the North East. This book is about its predecessor, the wooden railway which carried coal to Dunston largely for shipment to London and the South East of England. The line was opened in 1725 and is famous for its huge engineering works notably the Causey Arch and the great embankments across Causey Dene and Burdon Dene which attracted visitors from elsewhere in Britain and from overseas. Built 100 years before George Stephenson’s railways, it is a reminder of the extensive network of railway which served the Great Northern Coalfield, long before Stephenson began his career.

The book examines the nature of the coal trade from Newcastle and the important role that railways played in this industry. It considers the forerunners of the Tanfield Railway, the many waggonways which were built in the century before the Tanfield line opened to traffic. The anatomy of the waggonways, both on the surface and underground, is described in detail. This is essential reading for all who are interested in the origins of our railway, and it is worth remembering that the standard gauge of today’s high speed lines throughout the world was determined by the colliery waggonways of the Great Northern Coalfield.

About Les Turnbull

Les Turnbull graduated in history from Durham University and after a career in the education service now works as a volunteer in the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineering. He is acknowledged as an expert on the Great Northern Coalfield, which was the cradle of the railway, and has written several books on the subject. His recent publication, ‘The Railway Revolution’, has been described by the reviewer from the Stephenson Locomotive Society as ‘a must-buy purchase for any historian interested in either early railways or the industrial North East’. There is no doubt that his latest publication in the Early Railways series of the Mining Institue will have a similar reception.

Additional event information

Tickets for this event are free, but booking is required.

Our building is fully accessible – if you have any queries about accessibility, please contact lucy.stockdale@thecommonroom.org.uk

Guests will be allocated seats sat in bubbles.

All guests over the age of 16 will be asked to scan the NHS QR code or provide their name and contact details on arrival at The Common Room. Smartphone users can download the NHS COVID-19 app before arrival.

Children attending the event must be supervised at all times.



The Common Room
Westgate Road
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE United Kingdom
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