Dating back to 2010, "The Waggonway" was a brand commemorating Beamish Museum: a stop along its 28/28A services.

▸ Backgroundthe title for "The Waggonway" was taken from the Beamish Museum attraction of the same name. It is a steam ride telling stories about the birth of the railways, and is home to replicas of the steam engines Steam Elephant and Puffing Billy. It makes up part of the museum's 1820s Pockerley diorama, which additionally features Old Hall, the Gardens, Joe the Quilter's Cottage, St Helen's Church, and the Georgian Landscape.

Steam-powered waggonways themselves rose to prominence towards the end of the Industrial Revolution, the era of which the Pockerley attraction is set in. Their function was to haul wagons of heavy coal loads through mines, and those powered by steam allowed up to fifty times more to be carried at once than traditional horse-drawn railways. The inspiration for the waggonway at Beamish's Pockerley setting was the completion of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR) in 1825, which connected the mines at West Durham, Darlington and the River Tees at Stockton. The railway was the culmination of a proposal put forward four years beforehand.

▸ Livery: the purpose of "The Waggonway" was to emulate the trams at Beamish, albeit in a more contemporary fashion. The livery worn by the branded vehicles was of a vintage style, carrying the matching maroon colour of the museum's trams and utilising the Times New Roman font for all wording.

The brand had a wordmark logo presented as 'the WAGGONWAY'. Lettering was set in Times New Roman PS Bold, with 'the' displayed in plain white and 'WAGGONWAY' in a metallic gradient with an inside black stroke. To the right of the logo was an illustration of a wooden wagon. The Beamish logo and its relevant weblink were stuck over the glazing below the upper level windows.

Route information was conventionally applied over the cant rails of each branded vehicle, the typeface matching that in the logo. It was placed in front of a grey strip extending the length of the side faces, and aligned to the furthest back window. A smaller copy of the brand's logo sat further forward, where the Go North East logo would generally be located, meaning that had to be positioned elsewhere. As stated, the 'separators' between each of the route locations were creatively represented by the wagon illustration adjacent to the logo, as opposed to the typical bullet points, arrows or dashes.

In partnership with Beamish Museum, and to benefit them and Go North East alike in attracting more customers, an advert was applied over the rear window of each branded vehicle to highlight the 25%-discounted admission fee into the museum upon presentation of a valid Go North East ticket. This was only available when travelling using "The Waggonway" brand's allocated 28/28A/28B services, the former two stopping at the museum's entrance.

▸ Vehicles: originally operated by DAF SB200/Plaxton Prestige vehicles, "The Waggonway" was 'upgraded' with Scania L94UB/Wright Solar vehicles in October 2013 in order to provide larger capacity journeys. As such, Go North East seized the opportunity to withdraw the old Plaxton Prestige vehicles used on the brand's services beforehand, and sell them for scrap. The succeeding Wright Solar vehicles came from the former "MetroLINK" brand, which had recently been rebranded "Connections 4" and given an overhaul with new, WiFi-equipped Mercedes Citaro vehicles. After repaint, into a slightly different red tone than previously, the Wright Solar vehicles were transferred over to Chester-le-Street depot to work the "Waggonway" brand's allocated 28/28A/28B services. This remained the case until the withdrawal of the brand in 2018.

▸ Routes: "The Waggonway" was allocated to services 28/28A/28B. Both the 28/28A services connected passengers between Chester-le-Street and Newcastle, with an interworking half-hourly frequency; service 28B ran on Sundays only between Newcastle and Kibblesworth. While both the 28/28A services observed the entrance to Beamish Museum as part of their journeys, the 28B did not. However, the 25% discounted entry fee into the museum was still applied for passengers travelling on the service.

▸ Discontinuation: on 28th January 2018, as part of service changes, Go North East withdrew their "South Tyne" services 88/88A, which were covered by other services after the changes were put in place. Following on from these, the "South Tyne" brand's allocated Optare Versa vehicles were repainted into Go North East's 2016 fleet livery before being transferred over to Chester-le-Street depot in order to operate the 28/28A/28B. As for the Wright Solars previously used, they were sold for scrap later in the year. This marked the end of "The Waggonway" as a brand, although the 25% entry fee discount into Beamish remains in place on board the three services.

A drawing of 4957 can be seen below, depicting the Wright Solar version of the "Waggonway" livery.
Date last modified: 11th May 2022

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