The Blyth and Tyne lines cover a network of former colliery and passenger lines that connect Ashington, Lynemouth, Bedlington, Blyth and Earsdon to the East Coast Main Line at Benton and Morpeth. An extensive network of lines existed to move coal from collieries in the area to loading staithes on the Rivers Tyne and Blyth. Over time, these were expanded to carry passengers from Newcastle to Newbiggin and Blyth, as well as to the coast at Whitley Bay and Tynemouth.
Most of these lines closed in the seventies and eighties; the handful that remain served the Alcan aluminium smelter (closed in 2012) at Lynemouth and the recently-opened coal loading facility at Battleship Wharf, North Blyth. Plans for a biomass power station at Battleship Wharf are currently in discussion, and may involve the railway as a means of getting fuel to the plant.
Thanks to the kindness of Network Rail and the local Operations Managers, I was able to visit the signalboxes on the Blyth and Tyne lines in late 2009. This visit was timed to coincide with the planned closure of Ashington Signal Box a few months later. I was able to take photographs of the interiors of the boxes, and this gave a snapshot of the signalling in place in December 2009.
The remaining signal boxes on the network are: