Here are the weirdest & most aggravating station names on the Tyne & Wear Metro

A Metro train at Monument. Image: Callum Cape/Wikipedia.

Editor’s note: On Twitter, after publishing yet another rant about London station names, I noted that I would be delighted to publish similar rants about other cities, if only anyone thought to send them to me. One hero stepped forward.

1. West Jesmond

There are two Metro stops in this suburb – Jesmond, and West Jesmond. Here’s a map of the two:

Image: Open Street Map.

In the name of accuracy, I’m petitioning to either have Jesmond renamed “South Jesmond”, or West Jesmond renamed “North-by-North-by-Northwest Jesmond”.

2. University

Which university? Newcastle University, student population 23,700? No, that’s at Haymarket.

Northumbria University, student population, 27,200? No, that’s also at Haymarket (or Four Lane Ends, if you want the out-of-town campus).

University of Sunderland, student population 13,000? Yes! Well, sort of. The Sunderland City Campus is at University – but the St Peter’s Campus is at St Peter’s.

So if you’re heading to a university on Tyne & Wear, statistically speaking you almost certainly do not want University Metro station.

3. Central

Central is the Metro station that connects to Newcastle railway station, so its name makes some sense. The only problem is it’s not really central to anything – nor is it the central interchange on the Metro network.

The network map. Image: Nexus Tyne & Wear.

If you want central Newcastle – or any destination towards North Shields – you should head to Monument, the next station along and a fair walk uphill from Central.

4. Percy Main

I was going to give this one a pass, since although there’s nothing “Main” about it, Percy Main is also a (weirdly-named) village. But I looked it up on Wikipedia and it tells me the village “is named after the Duke of Northumberland's railway station, Percy Main”.

So it’s a railway station, named after a village, named after a railway station, owned by a guy called Percy, who apparently had so many stations he needed to note which was his main one. This is a dangerous level of recursion.

(UPDATE: The internet tells us that this one is actually named after the Main coal seam. The things you learn.)


5. Tyne Dock

This one is a relic of history, but one that’s potentially disastrous for tourists. There was once a huge port at Tyne Dock (part of South Shields), but much of it was filled in in the 1980s and today it’s just warehouses.

The passenger terminal of the Port of Tyne, which is where the ferry to Amsterdam departs from, is actually on the other side of the river. The port is really badly connected to the Metro network anyway, so I wouldn’t try it unless you fancy a mile-long walk down a dual carriageway.

6. Four Lane Ends

I like the quaintness of this one, but there’s no getting away from the fact those four lanes are now two busy A-roads and they don’t so much “end” as “cross each other”.

7. Bank Foot

It’s at the foot of a bank I guess? It used to be called Kenton Bank, but for some reason when they inaugurated the Metro they deleted the useful word “Kenton” – the village it’s actually near – and added the useless word “Foot”.

It’s a pointless station – it used to be where the shuttle bus to the airport went from, but now there’s an extension right up to the airport terminal so the remotely-placed Bank Foot serves no real purpose. It’s the fourth least-used on the network, and frankly I’m surprised it’s even that high.

Anyway, it’s the only Tyne and Wear Metro station that could be clearly and unambiguously signposted in emoji.

8. Hadrian Road

A classic example of the problems with naming a station after a road. Hadrian Road is a fairly long road along the north bank of the Tyne, mostly lined with industrial units. And there are two, maybe three stations on it: Hadrian Road, Wallsend and arguably Howdon.

If you actually had to use Hadrian Road station, you probably wouldn’t approach it from Hadrian Road anyway, but from the housing estate to the north. That said, few people do have to use Hadrian Road: it has the third fewest passengers of any station on the network.

9. Stadium of Light

Pretty self explanatory, right? It’s the station for Sunderland FC’s home ground, the Stadium of Light.

Except it’s not, if you’re actually from Sunderland. To prevent overcrowding on match days, the Stadium of Light station is only meant to be used by fans travelling from Newcastle and other northern stations. Those coming from stations to the south – an area which includes most of Sunderland – should use St Peter’s, which is actually slightly closer to the stadium anyway, instead.

That said, the fact that St Peter’s is the least-used station on the entire network suggests Sunderland fans don’t take that rule entirely seriously.


10. Byker

Not a problem in itself, but whenever the announcement comes on, you can be pretty sure some out-of-town idiot will sing, “Byker, Byker, Byker Grove!” in cod-Geordie. (Full disclosure: I have definitely been this idiot.)

Honourable mention: MetroCentre

It's not a Metro station but a normal railway station, which is precisely what makes it so confusing.

Things used to be worse: until 1993 it was called "Gateshead Metro Centre", which given the fact it's connected by bus to both Gateshead Metro station and Central Metro station all sounds like the set-up to a terrible "Who's on first?" joke.

If the extension plans go ahead, this will eventually be part of the actual Metro network. I'm not sure if that will result in any less confusion.

Stephen Jorgenson-Murray tweets as @stejormur.

If you would like to complain about the names of stations in your city, you know where we are.

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Vanilla Skybus: George Romero and Pittsburgh’s metro to nowhere

A prototype Skybus on display near Pittsburgh. Image: BongWarrior/Wikimedia Commons.

The late director George A Romero’s films are mainly known for their zombies, an association stretching from his first film, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, to his last as director, 2009’s Survival of the Dead.

But many of them are also a record of Pittsburgh, the city he lived and worked in, and other locations in the state of Pennsylvania in the late 20th century. Martin (1978), for example, isn’t just a movie about a kid who thinks he’s a vampire: it’s a moving portrayal of the post-industrial decay of the Pittsburgh borough of Braddock.

Though born in New York, Romero studied in Pittsburgh and stayed in the city after graduation, shooting commercials as part of the successful Latent Image agency. It was in collaboration with advertising colleagues that he shot his debut Night of the Living Dead. On both that movie and subsequent films, Romero and his colleagues used their experience and connections from the agency to secure cheap and striking locations around the city and state. 

It’s in Romero’s little-seen second film, 1971’s romantic drama There’s Always Vanilla, that a crucial scene touches on a dead end in the history of urban transport in Steel City.

In the scene Vietnam vet Chris, only recently returned to town after a failed music career, sees his father off on a train platform, after an evening where Chris got his dad stoned and set him up with a stripper. (It was the early 1970s, remember.) An odd little two-carriage metro train pulls up on an elevated concrete platform, Chris’ father rides away on it, and then Chris literally bumps into Lynn, whom he then both gaslights and negs. (It was the ‘70s.) You can see the scene here.

A screenshot from There's Always Vanilla, showing the Skybus through a chain link fence.

If you don’t live in Pittsburgh, you might assume that funny little train, still futuristic forty years on, is just an everyday way of getting around in the exciting New World. Who knows what amazing technology they have over there, right?

In fact, the Transit Expressway Revenue Line, more snappily referred to as the Skybus, not only doesn’t exist today: it hardly existed at all, beyond what we see in that short scene. In the 1960s there were plans to replace Pittsburgh’s street car system with a more up to date urban transit system. The Skybus – driverless, running on rubber tires on an elevated concrete track with power provided with an under rail system – drew enough support from the Port Authority and Federal Government for them to fund a short demonstration track at the Allegheny County Fair, at that point a local institution.

It’s this demonstration track and train that appears in There’s Always Vanilla. Film makers love isolated systems like this, or the UK’s many heritage railways, because they allow for multiple takes and a controlled environment. So it made sense for Romero to use this local curio rather than seek access to an in-use station.


The sequence in Vanilla shows that the Skybus system worked, and as a potential metro system it looks quite striking to this day with its curved windows and distinctive logo. But the proposed system wasn’t popular with everyone, and cost concerns and political wrangling stalled the project – until it was finally rejected in favour of a more conventional steel wheel on steel rail transit system.

The demonstration track was pulled up in 1980, although the small station and platform seen in the movie remains: Romero expert Lawrence Devincentz narrates a photo tour of the building on the blu ray of There’s Always Vanilla.

Vanilla was renamed and barely seen on release, but is now available as part of a boxset of Romero’s early works from Arrow Video, in ridiculously pristine 2K digital transfer. The Skybus is there too, a curio of Pittsburgh history caught on a few short minutes of film. Neglected back then, both seem considerably more interesting now.

‘There’s Always Vanilla’ is available on blu ray as part of Arrow’s ‘George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn’ box set, and will receive a standalone release later this year.

Mark Clapham used to work in rail regulation, but now writes things like this. He tweets as @markclapham.