Exploring the Tyne Valley By Train, by Rosemary Burton, Kingsmead Press &/British Rail Eastern Region, 1989.


Card covered booklet 8.75”x 5.75”, pp40, numerous maps and B&W photographs.


As heirs to the enterprising publicity and public relations publications of the London & North Eastern Railway under successively Teasedale, Dandridge and Dow, their followers in the nationalised North Eastern and Eastern Regions were frustrated by restricted budgets and changes of policy which saw the end of attractive booklets promoting the countryside, and colourful holiday resort posters. Until about 1960 (NE Region commissioned their last “pictorial” poster around that time) a poster advertising say Scarborough, might attract a considerable number to go there by train, As the deacade progressed they were more likely to go by car or to take a cheap air package holiday in the sun. The increasing number of country branchlines closed during the same period , effectively severely reduced the “Go for a ramble by Train” market. There was also the poblem of accounting for and selling priced items, complicated by staff demands in some travel centres for a commission to be paid on each sale. Policy dictated that fares and services be publicised, not destinations as such.

Eastern Region made something of a breakthrough in 1975, with three hugely successful booklets, which more than paid for themselves, celebrating the Rail 150 Cavalcade. Using the four Civil Engineering Dept staff photographers, the whole operation was planned with military precision, so that the first booklets were edited, printed and on sale within days of the event, prempting any “commercial” publisher aiming for the “budget” end of the market. Sales and distribution were conrolled by York H,Q. And enabled a couple of redundant staff to be kept on until reaching minimum retirement age. The department was not allowed to retain much money after all expenses had been cleared, but it did provide some cash, which with the right synergic input from other organisations, produced useful results. Cooperation with a brewery, with an arts and technical college and with local authority representatives and tourist atractons meeting as publicity working parties for individual lines, produced some excellent booklets at

very ecomomical cost.

“Explore the Tyne Valley by Train”, was a case in point. It was a joint production with a small publishing company run by a retired railway officer, who was also under contract to write for other publishers. Eastern Region undertook some research for a couple of books on his behalf, in return he agreed to jointly publish “TyneValley” arranging sales direct by post, and through the book trade, in return for a percentage of the nett. Production costs were partly met out of a passenger department budget for posters and pocket timetables publicising the line, and partly through funding from the Tyne Valley Line Working party.

The author, Rosemary Burton, a talented and knowledgeable travel writer for “Punch” was well known to Eastern Region Public Relations, as a regular attender at press conferences, which resulted in her publishing favourable features about train travel. She took her fee for writing “Tyne Valley” in the form of free travel for her to research for non railway features which she was interested in writing on a free lance basis. Thus with good will and cooperation all round an attractive and informative booklet resulted, without damaging anyone’s budget too much.

The Tyne Valley line follows the course of the former Newcastle & Carlisle railway and as such, a journey is of considerable interest. The countryside away from the big connurbations is of considerable beauty, and has many historical associations, dating back to Roman times. The feasibility of the walks suggested was thoroughly tested by middle aged railway managers in no better than average health!

For history of the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway see:




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