Horse tram to Metro

I was up in the north-east at the weekend. It’s where I was born and brought up, so I have fond memories of the area’s transport network.

I was seven years old when HM The Queen opened the Tyne and Wear Metro system and the Queen Elizabeth II bridge, in November 1981.

Metro train on Queen Elizabeth II bridge, 1993 (NRM / Science & Society)

Billed as the UK’s first fully integrated transport system, the Metro changed the face of travel in the north-east, and I still cherish my copy of the souvenir brochure from the launch. I was determined to be a Metro driver, back then. There’s still time.

I found this wonderfully nostalgic poster in the National Railway Museum‘s collection:

'Horse tram to Metro' poster, 1978 (NRM / Pictorial Collection / Science & Society)

The area played a major role in railway history – Robert Stephenson’s Rocket locomotive, for instance, was built in Newcastle.

Robert Stephenson, 1849 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

These days, the Metro is operated by the German national railway, Deutsche Bahn, who last week announced they’re buying Sunderland-based bus and train operator, Arriva. They also own or part-own Chiltern Railways, Wrexham & Shropshire and London Overground.

It’s a complex business. More on the latest addition to the London Overground network soon…

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