Station Name: BISHOP AUCKLAND
                          (Crook & Wearhead Platform)

 

[Source: Nick Catford]



Date opened: December 1857
Location: On the west side of Newgate Street
Company on opening: North Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 6.6.1986
Date closed completely: 6.6.1986
Company on closing: British Rail (North Eastern Region)
Present state: Demolished - the goodsyard is now a Morrisons and car park. The site of the Durham platform is now a Halfords, a Barclays Bank and part of Morrisons car park
County: Durham
OS Grid Ref: NZ209292
Date of visit: April 1984 and 7.10.2005

Notes: The original terminus of the Stockton & Darlington Railway opened at a temporary terminus at South Church on 19.4.1842. Initially trains were steam hauled but the following day this was changed to horse power but as horses were unable to judge their footing in a dark tunnel at Shildon this was once again changed to steam power. Until the opening of the Bishop Auckland Branch to Durham and Leamside a road coach service was run from South Church to Rainton Meadows for through travelers. On 30th January 1843 the line was extended to a permanent Bishop Auckland station.

The North Eastern Railway opened a temporary terminus in Tenter Street on 1.4.1857. The Stockton & Darlington and North Eastern stations were replaced by a joint station about December 1857. The station was rebuilt on 2.12.1867 and rebuilt in its final triangular form in 1905. The original station was closed on 6.6.1986 with a new short single platform being built on the site of the Crook platform on the southern side of the triangular station serving trains from Darlington.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WEAR VALLEY RAILWAY (this is a shortened version taken from the Weardale Railway Project web site. Click here for the full version)
It was in the early days of the Stockton & Darlington Railway Company, that a railway to tap the mineral wealth of Weardale was first considered. However, it wasn't until November 1843 when the Bishop Auckland & Weardale Railway was opened from Shildon Junction to Crook that any real attempt was made to penetrate the dale. The line was leased and worked by the Stockton & Darlington Railway. An extension of this line in 1845 from Crook to Waskerley was opened to serve as another outlet for the Derwent Iron Company at Consett. The section of line was originally called the Weardale Extension Railway but later under a merger with the line from Stanhope to Consett, was known as the Wear & Derwent Junction Railway.


Crook platform in 1965 - Photo by Roy Lambeth

A plan to penetrate Weardale proper was covered by the Wear Valley Act of July 1845, which was to provide a line from Witton Junction (Wear Valley Junction) on the Bishop Auckland & Weardale Railway to Frosterley, with a connecting branch to Bishopley, this opened on 3rd August 1847.

In 1862 the Wear Valley line was extended to Stanhope by the Frosterley & Stanhope Railway, mainly to reach the Newlandside Estate on the south side of the town where large quantities of limestone were known to exist.

The final extension of the Wear Valley line to Wearhead was opened on 21st October 1895. It was impossible to extend the line from the existing station at Stanhope and therefore a new one had to be built.

Between Eastgate and Westgate at Cambo Keels, sidings were established to serve the Weardale Iron Company's Heights limestone quarry. This quarry is still operational today.

The passenger train service survived until 29th June 1953. Up until closure, four trains per day had served the stations of Witton-Le-Wear, Harperley, Wolsingham, Frosterley, Stanhope, Eastgate, Westgate-in-Weardale, St. Johns Chapel and Wearhead. The freight service to Wearhead survived until 1961 when the line was cut back the St. John's Chapel. West of Eastgate followed in 1968, which is the present terminus.

Eastgate cement works were established in 1964 and brought new life to the Wear valley line. Utilising purpose built container wagons, cement was transported mainly by rail from the plant to Teesside, Tyneside and Scotland. This operation ceased on 17th March 1993.

The line which existed until 2004 was single throughout between Eastgate and Shildon. There is a connecting spur into Bishop Auckland station - the terminus of the 'Heritage Line' passenger service from Darlington. A summer only Sunday passenger train service to Stanhope operated as an extension to the Darlington service between 1988 & 1992. The success of this service was instrumental in reopening the station at Etherley (renamed Witton Park), in August 1991.

A campaign to save the line west of Bishop Auckland, now known as the Weardale Railway, began in 1993 with the threat of closure and track uplift a real possibility after the last cement train ran. Until 2004, the line was mothballed, but purchase by Weardale Railways Limited has now been achieved and the first works trains began running in 2004 in preparation for the reopening of the first section between Stanhope and Wolsingham in July 2004.

In February 2005 Weardale Railways Ltd, the company operating the line ran into financial difficulties and it was necessary to call in an administrator. No service operated during 2005 but the Weardale Railway Project are hopeful of of a satisfactory outcome in the near future with a resumption of services some time in 2006.

See The Weardale Railway Project web site

Click here for Roy Lambeth's memories of the Wear Valley line in the late 1950's & 1960's

To see the other stations on the Wear Valley Railway click on the station name: Etherley, Wear Valley Junction, Witton-le-Wear, Harperley, Wolsingham, Frosterley, Stanhope (1st), Stanhope (2nd), Eastgate, Westgate-in-Weardale, St. John's Chapel & Wearhead


CLICK HERE FOR THE DURHAM LINE

Bishop Auckland Station - looking west at the Crook platforms



16.15 to Barnard Castle on 5th May 1962
Photo by Brian Johnson


Bishop Auckland Station in 1984 after all the buildings had been demolished - Crook platform left and Durham Platform (track lifted) right
Photo by Roy Lambeth

The 'new' platform at Bishop Auckland in October 2005 taken from the same viewpoint as the picture above. This was built on the site of the original Crook platform, a remnant of which remains at the far end of the platform.
P
hoto by Roy Lambeth


 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]


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