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Waggonways and tramways formed a network of routes essential for the transport of coal, iron, glass and passengers across the area.

Coal was transported to the Lemington Staithes and transferred to keel boats that carried it further down the river to collier brigs lying below the old Tyne Bridge. Until the 17th century mined coal was carried on the backs of pack-horses. Early in the 17th century wooden rails were
laid down and coal was transported in horse drawn wagons. A horse could move approximately ten and a half tons of coal in one day.

Number 308 Newcastle Corporation tram

The picture shows the number 308 Newcastle Corporation tram standing at the loop near the path off to the glassworks. (Pic - BYGONE Bell’s Close & Lemington, A.D. Walton)

Between 1748 and 1780 waggonways were constructed to connect Wylam, Throckley, Walbottle and North Walbottle collieries to Lemington Staithes. Early in the 19th century the Tyne Iron Works and the Glass Works created more waggonways to transport both their raw materials and manufactured goods.

In 1808 timber rails were replaced with iron plate-way rails and in 1827 by fish-bellied rails. Towards the end of the 19th century most of the coal was transported on the main railway lines and the waggonways ceased to be used as the main route.
By 1913 a single line tramway service ran a passenger service from Scotswood Bridge to Lemington. The route ran through Lemington just north of the glass works. This service closed in 1946.

“During the Second World War an underground air-raid shelter was built opposite the Chapel at Bells Close. In the event of an air-raid tramcars could stop here and passengers could take shelter.”

(From the recollections of William Lynn, a community resident)

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