Station Name: COX GREEN

[Source: Alan Young]

Date opened: 11.1854 (first appearance in Bradshaw)

North side of Coxgreen Road

Company on opening: North Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers:


Date closed completely: 4.5.1964
Company on closing:

British Railways (North Eastern Region)

Present state: The main station building is in residential use. It has been extended twice; first at the rear and later to the east.
County: Durham (now Tyne & Wear)
OS Grid Ref: NZ330549
Date of visit: 20.6.2013 & 6.10.2013

Notes: The line from Sunderland to Leamside opened on 20 February 1852 for goods traffic and 1 June 1853 for passengers. Cox Green station appears to have been an afterthought. Coxgreen Crossing first appeared in Bradshaw in November 1854; ‘Crossing’ was dropped from the name from April 1857, and from July 1931 the two-word form of the name was adopted. The station building at Cox Green probably originated as a two-room crossing keeper’s cottage, immediately north-east of the level crossing, on the up side of the line. Fawcett notes that this single-storey stone structure boasted Tudor-revival windows which seem to have been borrowed, not too expertly, from Benjamin Green’s work on the Newcastle & Berwick Railway. In 1884 an upper floor was added, with an extra pair of bedrooms and windows whose chamfered reveals made some concession to the originals.

The first Ordnance Survey plan showed that the platforms were short, and that the down (Sunderland-bound) one had no buildings. By 1896 the platforms had doubled in length and been raised in height, and a building had appeared on the down platform, adjacent to the level crossing. This was an austere single-storey brick structure including a timber-and-glass section. A signal box stood on the up side of the line, south-west of the level crossing.

Bradshaw of February 1863 shows a service of eight up and seven down trains on weekdays at Cox Green and three each way on Sundays: this was the same frequency as at neighbouring Millfield, Pallion and Hylton. In summer 1896 up train departures had increased to nine on Monday-to-Friday and twelve down, three of the latter calling by request to set down from stations south of York. An extra train called on Saturdays in each direction, and there were three departures each way on Sundays. Reflecting its rural location Cox Green station had slightly fewer train calls than its neighbours. The summer 1920 timetable showed a similar service frequency.

North Eastern Railway statistics for 1911 show that only 839 people lived within the catchment of Cox Green station, nevertheless it issued 25,641 tickets. No goods facilities were provided, although there was a siding at the north-eastern end of the up platform.

In 1923 at the Grouping of Britain’s railways the NER lines, and thus Cox Green station, were allocated to the London & North Eastern Railway, and at nationalisation in 1948 the station found itself in the North Eastern Region of British Railways. In summer 1952 Cox Green station had 11 departures in each direction on weekdays, with an extra down late-evening call by request. On Sundays there were five trains in each direction, and an extra late-evening request stop in the down direction. The LNER installed its standard wooden running-in boards with raised metal lettering.

Up trains
June 1952


Down trains June 1952 Weekdays



Bishop Auckland




Bishop Auckland




Bishop Auckland












Bishop Auckland




Bishop Auckland












Bishop Auckland














By request to set down




SX Saturdays excepted
SO Saturdays only

Despite the respectable train frequency shown above, in the previous year (1951) Cox Green station issued only 9,095 tickets. It remained an isolated rural location and study of the OS map (1952) may invite the question of where the 9,095 people who bought tickets actually lived! By comparison neighbouring Hylton, which was being engulfed by the westward expansion of Sunderland, booked 54,250 passengers. As an economy measure, on 14 August 1961 Cox Green station became an ‘unstaffed halt’ but, reflecting NE Region practice, ‘Halt’ was not added to the name. The Reshaping of British Railways (‘Beeching’) report recommended the withdrawal of the Sunderland – Durham – Bishop Auckland passenger train service, and closure came on 4 May 1964. To the end the station resisted modernisation, being lit by gas and never receiving BR(NE) totem signage.

In the mid 1970s parts of the platforms were intact and the station building was in residential use, as it remains today. It has been considerable extended

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SUNDERLAND TO DURHAM (AND BISHOP AUCKLAND) VIA LEAMSIDE LINEDespite its name the Durham & Sunderland Railway (D&S) – not via Leamside – never did reach Durham City. Its route from South Dock, Sunderland, extended through Murton to Haswell (where the Hartlepool Dock & Railway Company already had a terminus) which opened in 1836, with a branch from Murton through Hetton, Pittington and Sherburn House to Shincliffe, two miles south-east of the Durham City centre, which opened in 1839. The North Eastern Railway eventually diverted the line from Shincliffe to terminate in Durham at Elvet station in 1893.

In an Act of 27 July 1846 the Newcastle & Darlington Junction Railway (see ‘Old Main Line’ history) was authorised to build a line from Pensher (later known as Penshaw) to join the D&S Railway at Sunderland. The line was known as the Painshaw Branch (another variation on the spelling of Penshaw). From Sunderland as far as Penshaw the line followed the River Wear valley but its route was generally some distance from the river to avoid a meander near Hylton and to serve the communities which were growing south of the river. The line opened on 20 February 1852 for goods traffic and 1 June 1853 for passengers. The terminus in Sunderland was Fawcett Street station, which opened on the same day on the southern edge of the developing commercial centre of the town.

The Bishop Auckland branch from Leamside via Durham opened to passengers on 1 April 1857. Beyond Leamside, at Auckland Junction (later known as Leamside Junction) it swung westwards from the route to Ferryhill, crossed the River Wear on a viaduct, then sharply south-west to reach Durham City. The curious dog-leg in the route enabled the line to follow the intended course of the moribund YN&B project of 1848: see details in the section below on the ‘new’ main line. Durham City’s centre is densely built up on the narrow, steep-sided peninsula within a meander of the River Wear, dominated by the cathedral and castle; the railway did not enter this historically important area, but passed by to the north-west, where a substantial viaduct was necessary and the city’s station was found.

The Leamside – Bishop Auckland branch now provided an alternative route between Durham and Sunderland, far more convenient than via the Durham & Sunderland’s Shincliffe (for Durham) terminus – which was abandoned in 1893 when the D&S was re-routed to a terminus at Durham Elvet. On the day the Bishop Auckland branch was opened the branch from Belmont Junction to Durham Gilesgate closed to passengers: this had been opened by the N&DJ on 15 April 1844, providing the first station in Durham City.

From 1857 Leamside station enjoyed some importance as the de facto junction where trains to and from Sunderland and Durham connected with the services on London Kings Cross – Newcastle – Edinburgh main line. Fencehouses or Penshaw could equally have been awarded this status, but Leamside station, in its remote rural surroundings, was rebuilt with an island platform and bays at each end to accommodate the connecting services and allow convenient interchange by passengers. Its importance was short-lived and was suddenly removed when the new main line route between Ferryhill and Newcastle via Durham opened in 1872. Leamside station was now an extravagance, with little local population to serve; conversely the splendid Durham viaduct, originally serving only the Leamside – Bishop Auckland branch, was now a prominent feature of the main line providing a vantage point from which millions of passengers would be able to admire Durham and its cathedral.

In Sunderland the inconvenient gap between Monkwearmouth, the terminus of trains from Newcastle and South Shields on the north bank of the River Wear, and the lines from the south was closed in 1879 when in the ‘Monkwearmouth Junction’ project a bridge over the river and a tunnel under the town centre were constructed together with a new station known either as Sunderland (or Sunderland Central). From August 1879 Fawcett Street station closed and trains on the Durham line ran into the new station. The Central station also replaced the Hendon terminus, formerly used by trains to Seaham and West Hartlepool.

As with most lines in northern County Durham the Sunderland – Durham route carried large quantities of goods and mineral traffic, notably coal. Several collieries were directly linked to the line, and there were branches into shipyards and Deptford staiths on the Wear as well as to the Hudson, Henson and South docks on the coast.

Expecting that coal exports from Sunderland’s South Dock would increase, the North Eastern Railway and local authorities jointly funded the construction of the Queen Alexandra Bridge, to carry both rail and road traffic in the manner of High Level Bridge between Gateshead and Newcastle. The NER paid £325,000 (including railway approaches) while Sunderland Corporation contributed £146,000 and Southwick Council a further £11,000. The new bridge and associated lines would enable coal from the ex-Stanhope & Tyne line to reach South Dock, eliminating reversals at Washington and Penshaw, using instead a mineral line from Southwick Junction (between Washington and Boldon) over the new Queen Alexandra Bridge, then the Sunderland – Durham line from Diamond Hall Junction (just west of Millfield station). The bridge opened in 1909, but from the NER perspective it was a financial disaster since it apparently carried one coal train per day until the early 1920s when regular traffic ceased.

Passenger services on the Sunderland – Durham line remained frequent. However from the 1920s motor buses began to provide a more intensive service and linked the numerous mining villages and towns in north-east Durham. The ‘Old Main Line’ south of Leamside lost its passenger services in 1941. On the Sunderland – Durham route, apart from the very early loss of Frankland station, between Leamside and Durham, in 1877, casualties began with Leamside in 1953, followed by Millfield in inner Sunderland in 1955. Diesel multiple units replaced steam haulage on the route during 1957.

Further economies were exercised when Pallion and Penshaw were downgraded to ‘staffed halts’ and Cox Green became an ‘unstaffed halt’ on 14 August 1961. Passenger traffic censuses in summer 1962 and winter 1962-3 showed a respectable level of use on Monday-to-Friday of Hylton and Pallion stations, but limited traffic at the other stations, notably Cox Green. The Reshaping of British Railways (‘Beeching’) report of March 1963 recommended the withdrawal of passenger services between Sunderland, Durham and Bishop Auckland - as well as the services between Newcastle and Washington - and the official proposal of closure was published on 19 July 1963. Not a single objection was lodged to the Washington closure, which took place on 9 September 1963. BR must have been unprepared for the lack of resistance to this closure as a timetable for Usworth and Washington stations appeared in the winter 1963-4 North Eastern Region book. On 28 February 1964, having considered objections to the Sunderland – Durham – Bishop Auckland proposals, Ernest Marples, Minister of Transport, consented to the closure, and services were officially withdrawn on 4 May 1964.

The author was blissfully unaware of this development, and alighted from a Newcastle train at Durham on 15 May to catch the Sunderland train, only to be informed that the last one had gone! He decided to travel on to Darlington and Middleton-in-Teesdale instead – which was still open.

Goods services ceased between Leamside (Auckland Junction) and Durham (Newton Hall Junction) and at Finchale siding (Frankland) on 22 October 1964. The tracks into the former Fawcett Street terminus in Sunderland, which had continued as a goods facility reached from the Durham line, were severed on 3 October 1965. Goods services were retained between Penshaw and Sunderland until 21 August 1967 when they were discontinued west of Hylton Quarry sidings. In 1971 the line from Pallion to Ford paper works at Hylton was singled and ceased to be signalled when the factory closed, but Dolomite from Hylton Quarry continued to be carried until 1976 when the line was cut back to Pallion; it was officially taken out of use on 20 November 1976. The remainder of the line to Hendon, including Deptford Johnson Siding closed to goods on 27 November 1984. The section of the ‘Old Main Line’ which the Sunderland – Durham services shared between Penshaw Junction and Auckland Junction continued in goods use for some years more, but was ‘mothballed’ in 1991 and closed in 2012.

Sources and bibliography:

Tickets from Michael Stewart. Bradshaw from Chris Totty. Route maps drawn by Alan Young.

To see other stations on the Old Main Line click on the station name: Felling 2nd, Felling 3rd , Felling 1st, Pelaw 1st, Pelaw 3rd, Pelaw 4th , Pelaw 2nd, Usworth, Washington 2nd, Washington 1st, Penshaw 1st, Penshaw 2nd, Fencehouses, Rainton, Rainton Meadows (on branch), Leamside 1st, Leamside 2nd, Belmont Junction, Durham Gilesgate (on branch), Sherburn Colliery, Shincliffe & Ferryhill

See also Coxhoe (branch from Ferryhill)

See also: Springwell, Brockley Whins (1st site), Brockley Whins (2nd site)
& Boldon (route prior to 1850)

See also Sunderland and Durham (via Leamside):
Durham (still open), Frankland, South Hylton , Hylton, Pallion 1st, Pallion 2nd , Millfield 2nd, Millfield 1st, Millfield 3rd , Sunderland Fawcett Street (on branch) & Sunderland Central (Still open)

Station still open as part of the Tyne & Wear metro

A general view of Cox Green station looking north-east from the level crossing in 1959.  In the left foreground, on the down (Sunderland-bound) platform is an LNER nameboard and, beyond, the waiting room and toilet block built by the NER c1900. On the opposite platform is the main station building, originally a single-storey crossing cottage raised to two storeys in 1884, and there are railway cottages beyond. The station is oil lit and would remain so until closure. In 1959 Cox Green is still well maintained by the station staff, but as an economy measure in 1961 the station was to become an ‘unstaffed halt’.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

1873 1:2,500 OS map. The first Ordnance Survey map of 1873 shows the two short platforms and the station building at Coxgreen – a former crossing cottage - on the south-east (up, Penshaw-bound) platform; no facilities are provided on the down platform. Apart from the station itself, no other buildings are seen on this map. The single-word spelling of Cox Green was used by the Ordnance Survey long after the LNER adopted the two word form in 1931.

1898 1:2,500 OS map. By 1898 the facilities at Coxgreen station have been improved; this work was probably done in the 1880s. The two platforms have doubled in length and a building has appeared on the down (north-west) platform adjacent to the level crossing. The station building on the up platform has been enlarged, and two sets of railway cottages are seen to the north-east. A signal box is now shown on the up side of the line, south-west of the level crossing. No goods facilities are provided, although there is a siding beyond the north-eastern end of the up platform.

1939 1:2,500 OS map. This map of 1939 shows that the north-west (down) platform has been provided with a much larger building, north-east of the former structure shown on the 1898 map which has been demolished. The ‘new’ building is of a style used by the NER c1900. Little else has changed at Cox Green, and the railway buildings remain in isolation in this lightly populated part of County Durham.

Looking south-west from the up platform of Cox Green in March 1963, as a Metro Cammell (later Class 101) DMU enters with a train for Sunderland. Beyond the railway cottage on the left is the main station building. On the down platform a single-storey building of generous size can be seen, provided by the NER c1900. The station is oil-lit.
Photo from John Mann collection

Looking south-west from a Sunderland-bound train at Cox Green in 1964. On the up platform of this ‘unstaffed halt’ are some railway cottages, with the station building in the distance. The running-in nameboard is of LNER (pre-1948) vintage, and the oil lanterns date from NER (pre-1923) days.
Photo by Roy Lambeth

Cox Green station looking south-west from the up platform c1965. The station closed to passengers in 1964 and is intact, but the removal of the running-in nameboard on the opposite platform confirms that the station has closed. The block containing waiting rooms and toilets on the down platform is still in place, facing the main station building on the up platform. The signal box is on the down side beyond the level crossing. The route would remain open for goods and mineral traffic until August 1967.

Looking north-east from the up platform at Cox Green in 1965, the year after the station closed to passengers. The 0-6-2T (RS-3378-1909) seen here is on its way to Lambton Staiths. The loco was built for the Lambton Railway in 1909 by Robert Stephenson and Co, Darlington works. Sadly No.10 was scrapped, but its sister loco No.5 was built at the same time and is preserved on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. All the locos that worked on the Lambton Railway were either built or modified to a unique loading gauge with rounded cabs; this adaptation enabled them to work through a narrow bore tunnel to the Lambton coal drops at the Port of Sunderland.
Photo from Jim Lake collection
A coal train travelling towards Sunderland approaches the level crossing at Cox Green in August 1965. The signal box is still in use and new barriers have been installed at the crossing. Lambton Railways No.10 was built in 1909 by Robert Stephenson and Co of Darlington. It was withdrawn in 1965 and broken up; happily, its sister engine, No.5 is preserved on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Photo by IS Carr

Cox Green station looking north-east in April 1976, twelve years after closure to passengers.
Photo by Alan Young

Cox Green station looking south-west towards Penshaw in August 1977. This station regularly won prizes for its beautiful flower displays: perhaps the flowers among the weeds to the left are remnants of the station garden. The station building is in the background with the old down platform to the right.
Photo by Alan Lewis from his Ipernity photo gallery

Cox Green station looking north-east in December 1988. This station was originally a single-storey building but was raised to two storeys in 1884; the outline of the original roof above the flat roofed extension can be seen. The platforms have gone by this time.
Photo by Alan Lewis from his Ipernity photo gallery

Looking north-east at the site of Cox Green station in October 2013. The track bed goes through the white building while the C2C Stanley to South Hylton footpath and cycleway runs to the south of the station site, rejoining the original alignment at the level crossing.
Photo by Ali Ford




[Source: Alan Young]

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