Go North East worker clocks off after almost 50 years as bus depot shuts

Barry Newton outside the former GoNorthEast depot in Chester-le-Street. Photograph: Stuart Boulton/The Northern Echo
Barry Newton outside the former GoNorthEast depot in Chester-le-Street. Photograph: Stuart Boulton/The Northern Echo

A Go North East engineer who worked at a depot in County Durham has retired after almost five decades of service.

Barry Newton worked as an engineer and serviced hundreds of buses up until the Chester-le-Street depot closed earlier this month.

The last double-decker bus left the once-busy depot on Friday, September 2 to much emotion and sadness from people far and wide.

The depot first opened back in 1912 and employed more than 170 drivers and staff, dozens of routes were based there.

The Northern Echo: The former GoNorthEast depot in Chester-le-Street. Photograph: Stuart Boulton/The Northern Echo
The Northern Echo: The former GoNorthEast depot in Chester-le-Street. Photograph: Stuart Boulton/The Northern Echo

The former GoNorthEast depot in Chester-le-Street. Photograph: Stuart Boulton/The Northern Echo

This included the Angel 21 between Newcastle, Durham and Brandon, and the X21 between Newcastle, Spennymoor and Bishop Auckland.

But speaking about his retirement Mr Newton said he was “happy to retire” and was getting used to not working.

He said: “It’s only about my third week of being retired. This is actually my first day where I don’t have to get up to go to work.

“The problem is I’m still getting up at four in the morning ready for work.

“But it’s good to have the whole day ahead of you, you can do the gardening whenever you want and you can cut the lawn when you want, it’s great.”

Mr Newton was nearing his 50th year at the company, a milestone that he said he would have liked to have reached.

He added: “I was there for 47 years so it would have been nice to reach the 50-year mark, but because of Covid my retirement was called off.

“But this year they did my retirement party and me and my wife were invited.”

The Northern Echo: Barry Newton outside the former GoNorthEast depot in Chester-le-Street. Photograph: Stuart Boulton/The Northern Echo
The Northern Echo: Barry Newton outside the former GoNorthEast depot in Chester-le-Street. Photograph: Stuart Boulton/The Northern Echo

Barry Newton outside the former GoNorthEast depot in Chester-le-Street. Photograph: Stuart Boulton/The Northern Echo

Explaining that he had a “very good time” working at the depot, he said.

He added: “My work mates were very fun, but it did have its downsides.

"But I used to get up at 5am in the morning and it was very cold in the winter, but in the summer you could see the sunrise which was good.”

Mr Newton wanted to retire after hearing that the depot was closing as he did not want to move to a new depot.

The Northern Echo: The Go North East depot in Chester-le-Street Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT
The Northern Echo: The Go North East depot in Chester-le-Street Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

The Go North East depot in Chester-le-Street Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

The Northern Echo recently featured a driver who had retired after working there for over four decades and is known to be the “longest serving” female bus driver in the country.

Angela List, known to her passengers and colleagues as Angie spoke to The Northern Echo and said she “loved” her job and was “devastated” that it was closed.

Go North East confirmed the closure of the depot after The Northern Echo revealed there had been rumours among the workforce that it would shut.

At the time, the firm blamed the "financial challenges" brought on by the pandemic, changes to the economy and a recent pay claim from the union.

But the news did not go down well and the firm suffered immense backlash from its workers, politicians, businesses in the town and residents.

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As a result, drivers and Unite the Union clubbed together to campaign to keep it open, threatening strike action unless the firm reverses its decision - or compensates drivers.

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