infobox UK place

static_image_caption = Wylam war memorial
country = England
official_name= Wylam
latitude= 54.974
longitude= -1.821
population = 2,100
shire_district= Tynedale
region= North East England
shire_county = Northumberland
constituency_westminster= Hexham
post_town= WYLAM
postcode_district = NE41
postcode_area= NE
dial_code= 01661
os_grid_reference= NZ115645

Wylam (pronEng|ˈwɪləm) is a small village approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Newcastle upon Tyne. It is part of the district of Tynedale in the county of Northumberland.

It is famous for the being the birthplace of George Stephenson, one of the early rail pioneers. His cottage can be found on the north bank of the Tyne three quarters of a mile (1.2 km) east of the village centre. It is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public. Wylam has further connections with the early rail pioneers. The steam locomotive engineer Timothy Hackworth, who worked with Stephenson, was also born here. William Hedley who was born in the nearby village of Newburn attended the village school. He later went on to design and manufacture Puffing Billy in 1813, two years before George Stephenson produced his first locomotive Blücher.


Once an industrial workplace with collieries and an ironworks, it is now a commuting village for Newcastle upon Tyne and Hexham, served by the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway.

The earliest reference to Wylam is in a record of 1158 that records that the settlement belonged to the Priory at Tynemouth. It is thought that Guy de Balliol, Lord of Bywell, gave Wylam to the Priory in 1085. The Priors of Tynemouth held lands in the village until the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century.

The Blackett family have had a long association with the village. In 1685, John Blackett bought two farms at Wylam. These farms formed a modest estate and residence for the Blackett family until the third quarter of the twentieth century. The Blackett family also acquired the Lordship of the Manor of Wylam. The Lordship also included mineral rights within the township. This allowed the family to develop the colliery and further increase their prosperity.

An article in "The Newcastle Courant" of 17 January 1874 entitled "Our Colliery Villages" paints an unattractive image of the village - 'Wylam is the very worst colliery village that we have yet beheld …'. The colliery has an important place in the history of the development of the locomotive. It is thought that the Wylam waggonway was opened in 1748 and was therefore one of the earliest waggonways in the north of England. The waggonway linked the colliery to the staiths at Lemington from where the coal was taken down The River Tyne on flat bottomed boats called keels to be loaded on the large coal ships further down the river.

Several famous engineers have also had links with the village. George Stephenson was born at a small cottage at Wylam in June 1781. Timothy Hackworth's father was foreman blacksmith at the colliery and his son was born in the village in December 1786. Hackworth together with William Hedley and Jonathan Forster were involved in the development of the locomotive engine at the colliery. Perhaps the most famous of the engines to be developed was The Puffing Billy, which is now housed at The Science Museum in London.

The late eighteenth century was a period of prosperity for the village - the colliery was thriving and an ironworks, a leadshot manufactury and a brewery were all established in the village. In 1864 the ironworks closed. Four years later the colliery was closed. The brewery ceased to operate sometime in the 1870's. This decline in the industry led to a change in the character of the village. By the 20th century the village was almost entirely a residential settlement. [http://communities.northumberland.gov.uk/Wylam.htm]

Wylam Railway Bridge

Wylam Railway Bridge (also known as Points Bridge) is located at Hagg Bank, approximately convert|1|mi west of the town. It is a wrought iron bridge built by the Scotswood Newburn and Wylam Railway Company in 1876 to link the North Wylam Loop with the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway.

The original plan had been to build a bridge with four spans resting on three piers on the river bed. This was rejected by the local coal companies who feared that the construction of the piers on the river bed would disturb the shallow mine workings below, which already suffered from flooding.

The designers found the solution in designing a single span bridge carrying a double track, without the need for piers. The bridge consists of three parallel wrought iron arches resting on abutments on each bank, with the twin rail decks suspended by 14 wrought iron drop bars. It cost £16,000 to build.

The bridge paved the way for new developments in bridge building - Newcastle's Tyne Bridge in 1928, and Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932, being direct descendants of the design and construction of Hagg's Bridge.

Many of the trains which used the bridge carried coal from the collieries at Newburn and Walbottle westwards to Carlisle.

The line was closed in 1968 and the bridge later purchased by Northumberland County Council. It was restored in 1997 with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

All the old lead based paint was removed requiring the bridge to be wrapped in plastic to prevent polluting the river. [http://www.cycle-routes.org/hadrianscycleway/crossings/hagg_bank.html]


Wylam now has approximately 800 households, with a population of 2,100. [http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/vg/wylam.htm] Wylam's parish church was built in 1886 and is dedicated to St. Oswin, a Northumberland saint.

Wylam has transport links in the form of a popular train service from Wylam railway station along a main line from Carlisle to Newcastle Central Station. In contrast, the bus service to and from Wylam is poor and many services have been discontinued over recent years.

Recently the road bridge in Wylam was renovated, making the road surface wider and the guard rails stronger to withstand impacts of cars crashing against them.

Notable Residents

*Basil Bunting - Poet
*Antonia Byatt - novelist
*Margaret Drabble - Novelist
*Greg Dyke - Broadcaster
*Timothy Hackworth - Railway pioneer
*William Hedley - Railway pioneer
*George Stephenson - 'Father of the Railway'
*Charles Algernon Parsons - Inventor of the steam turbine

External links

* [http://www.wylamparishcouncil.org Wylam Parish Council Homepage]
* [http://www.multimap.com/map/browse.cgi?client=public&X=411500&Y=564750&width=500&height=300&gride=411449&gridn=564622&srec=0&coordsys=gb&db=&addr1=&addr2=&addr3=&pc=NE418AA&advanced=&local=&localinfosel=&kw=&in
* [http://www.wylamontyne.co.uk Wylam Homepage]
* [http://www.northumberland-cam.com/wylam/index.htm Photographs of Wylam]

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