Research - Tile Maps

North Eastern Railway Tile Maps

NER Wall Map, Middlesbrough Station

One of the features of several NER stations is the survival of a Tile Map showing stations served by the North Eastern Railway.

The polychrome tile map of the NER network dates from about 1903 when the company was at its peak. The map does not show the full network since a few mineral lines are omitted such as the line from Battersby junction to the ironstone mines at Rosedale East and West sides. It does show how, over much of its area, the NER was virtually a monopoly with competition from other companies confined to the periphery. It does however show some lines that were planned but not built. The map was manufactured by Craven, Dunnill &Co – a firm of encaustic and decorative tile manufacturers founded nearly 130 years ago. The company still exists and trades from its original premises now called Jackfield Tile Museum in Ironbridge, Shropshire.

In 1965, in correspondence with the then PRO and Stores Controller at York, it was said that tile  maps were erected at the following stations: Hexham, Durham, Morpeth,  South Shields, Tynemouth, Normanton, Leeds City South, Whitby,  Scarborough, Beverley, Bridlington, Saltburn, Hull, Selby, York,  Darlington, Middlesbrough, Goole. By that year, some, including Hexham, Durham, Leeds, Hull and Selby, had been withdrawn or broken up, and others had been covered up by restoration. At that time the correspondent was interested in buying one of the maps for preservation, though recognising that it would be costly to dismantle. Unfortunately, the Chief Civil Engineer advised that an examination of the map at Darlington revealed the tiles were an integral part of the wall and would be almost impossible to remove without damaging or  breaking the tiles.

According to NER minutes of the period there were 23 NER Tile Maps in all, erected at the following stations: Hexham, Durham,. Morpeth, South Shields, Tynemouth, Normanton, Leeds City South, Whitby, Scarborough, Beverley, Bridlington, Saltburn, Hull, Selby, York, Darlington, Middlesbrough. Goole, Newcastle Central, Alnmouth, West Hartlepool, London Kings Cross and Tyne Dock.  All the maps were on display by 1910 and NER minutes record the Kings Cross map was authorised in 1900.

In August 1987 Beverley, Morpeth, Middlesbrough, Saltburn, Scarborough, Tynemouth, West Hartlepool, Whitby and York  were all in situ and on display.  South Shields survived until at least early 1987, behind a wooden protective screen.  The map at Bridlington was purchased by a private individual. The map at Tyne Dock was destroyed by fire in 1970, after the station had been reduced to "Pay Train" status. Three tiles from this map were saved, but the arsonists unfortunately damaged the others, prior permission for their removal having been obtained from BR.

SINE project photograph of the Tile Map on Morpeth Station

Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society: Tile Map on Scarborough Station

Craven Dunnill Jackfield Home Page

Jackfield Tile Museum Home Page

North Eastern Tile Company for details of replica NER Tile Maps