Station Name: BEECHBURN


[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: Probably February 1845
Location: At the end of Station Road and on the east side of Railway Street
Company on opening: Bishop Auckland & Weardale Railway
Date closed to passengers: 8.3.1965
Date closed completely: 8.3.1965
Company on closing: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Present state: Demolished
County: Durham
OS Grid Ref: NZ163332
Date of visit: September 1967, August 1968 & April 2006

Notes: Beechburn's history cannot be separated from that of Howden with any certainty. The earliest record of a station at Howden is a Stockton & Darlington Railway minute of 14 February 1845, when it seems to have been regarded as a station, but without facilities; it appeared in the company timetable for September 1847 but not in Bradshaw and was closed by 20 December 1847 when plans for converting the waiting-room into a house were agreed.

There is record of a station at Beechburn in May 1948 with no mention of Howden and S & D minutes show that cabin from Shildon was ordered to be moved to Beechburn to serve as a waiting-room and that station was still incomplete in January 1849, but a station incomplete a year or two after opening was not unusual on the S&D.

On 14 August 1855 improvements to Howden station were authorised, suggesting it had re-opened, but S&D use of names was so casual that they might have meant Beechburn.

Minutes of 25 November 1868 show the agreed reopening of Howden with no reopening date found. Beechburn's service became two way April or May 1869. Howden was renamed Beechburn on 16 April 1869.

Early OS maps show two stations in the area, one just north of Howden at Beechburn Colliery, the other just south. Bartholomew's 1860's Imperial Atlas names the northern one Beechburn Colliery and the southern one North Beechburn, probably not official names.

The likeliest explanation is that the original stop was the southern one, Howden; replaced by northern, Beechburn, late 1847. In 1869 Howden was reopened and renamed Beechburn.

The western section of the Stockton and Darlington Railway had been progressively improved and extended with the Bishop Auckland & Weardale Railway finally reaching Crook in 1843.

The B A & W company minutes show that the line opened to a permanent station at Bishop Auckland on 30 January 1843, ahead of the rest of the line to Crook and that the generally quoted 8 November 1843 for opening to Crook was for goods only. The line was leased by the Stockton & Darlington Railway.

The passenger opening date to Crook has not so far been traced; however, the minutes do show that the line was inspected on 1 January 1844 and that permission to open for passengers was received by on or before 6 January. The following stations were proposed: South Church, Bishop Auckland, Escombe, Old Etherley Colliery, Low Bitchburn, Howden and Crook, only South Church, Bishop Auckland and Crook had been completed but the line was authorised for opening on 3rd January 1844. Escombe and Low Bitchburn stations are never mentioned again and were probably never built.

It is likely that the initial service to Crook was market days only because when it first appeared in Bradshaw in July 1844, only a Thursday market service was shown but the line was in full use by January 1845.

S & D records show an experimental extension north from Crook to Crawley (later renamed Park Head) and Cold Rowley (later renamed Rowley), dividing at Waskerley which opened on 1 September 1845 although Bradshaw shows Crook as the terminus until November 1846.

By March 1850 there was a full service from Crook to Cold Rowley with stops at Tow Law and Waskerley Park. Tow Law first appears in timetables in September 1847; references have been found to additional stops at High Souk (alias High Stoop), which appears on the early Ordnance Survey maps and to Saltersgate Cottage, which would have been further north towards Burnhill, but passenger use cannot be confirmed. A station at Burnhill (originally Burnhill Junction) opened on 4th July 1859.

The Bishop Auckland & Weardale Railway amalgamated with the Wear Valley Railway in 1847 which was in turn taken over by the Stockton & Darlington in 1858 and by the North Eastern Railway in 1863.

The Crawley (Park Head) service was an early casualty, losing its passenger service on 1st April 1846 although it has been suggested that there was some later passenger use until October 1862 while the goods service was retained until 2nd August 1865.

In NER days a through service was provided from Darlington to Tyneside via Bishop Auckland, Crook, Tow Law, Burnhill and along the Derwent Valley Line through Blackhill & Swalwell. With increasing competition from roads and the decline in the handling of lime and stone the line north of Tow Law to Blackhill (Consett) was closed to passengers in May 1939 along with the stations at Burnhill and Rowley ending through running to Tyneside. Shortly after closure the Government built the Salters Gate Ammunition Depot across the line between Salters Gate and Burnhill which effectively totally closed the through line although munitions trains could access the Burnhill Station transfer yard from both directions.

The line was further cut back to Crook on 11th June 1956 and the final section of line from Bishop Auckland - Crook closed to passengers on 8th March 1965. The track north of Wear Valley Junction was lifted in late 1967 or early 1968.

The line between Bishop Auckland and Crook served a number of collieries and other industrial sites. Click here for a full list.

To see the other stations on the Bishop Auckland - Rowley line click on the station name: Bishop Auckland, Etherley, Wear Valley Junction, Crook, Tow Law, High Souk, Saltersgate Cottage, Burnhill Junction (Military Exchange Station), Burnhill & Rowley

See also stations on the Wear Valley line to Wearhead


Beechburn Station looking north c. 1920's
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Beechburn Station looking south in September 1967
hoto by Nick Catford

The site of Beechburn Station looking north in April 2006; taken from the same viewpoint
as the top picture
hoto by Roy Lambeth

Click on thumbnail to enlarge




[Source: Nick Catford]

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