Station Name: ETHERLEY

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: By 16.10.1867 (2nd site - see notes)
Location: West from the junction of Main Street and Low Queen Street
Company on opening: Frosterley & Stanhope Railway
Date closed to passengers: 8.3.1965
Date closed completely: 1.11.1965
Company on closing: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Present state: The station is intact and converted into a private residence. Overgrown track still runs through the station.
County: Durham
OS Grid Ref: NZ175303
Date of visit: May 1968 & 7.10.2005

Notes: The station was initially open on market days only. The first reference to the station in company minutes is 14.4.1847 and it first appears in a timetable in September 1847. The station was resited by 16.10.1867 with a proposal to convert the old station into cottages. The station was known as Etherley & Witton Park until 1.7.1871.

The station had a single platform i.e. trains travelling in both directions stopped at the same platform.

It was closed to passenger traffic on 8th March 1965 when the service between Bishop Auckland and Crook was withdrawn. A goods facility survived a further eight months.

There were many adjacent lines serving the Vulcan Iron Works site of Bolcow Vaughan and various collieries. A signal box at the west end of the station controlled them. Beyond the station there were double line sections of track to Bishop Auckland West and Wear Valley Junction. The box closed in April 1970.

Following a campaign by the local residents of Witton Park and The Friends of the Heritage Line, the station was renamed and re-opened on 25th August 1991 with a Summer Sunday service to Stanhope; an extension of the Darlington, Bishop Auckland service. It operated from 1988-19 92 and was very popular with people wishing to have a day out in Weardale.

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.


Etherley Station in 1964 - 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 Cambokeels, 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.


Etherley Box in 1964 - Photo by Roy Lambeth

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. Tickets from Michael Stewart

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: Bishop Auckland, Wear Valley Junction, Witton-le-Wear, Harperley, Wolsingham, Frosterley, Stanhope (1st), Stanhope (2nd), Eastgate, Westgate-in-Weardale, St. John's Chapel & Wearhead


Etherley Station looking east in September 1957.
Photo by Les Turnbull



1920 1:2500 OS map
.
Etherley Station probably in the early 1960's
P
hoto from Weardale Railway Project web site

Etherley Station looking west in May 1968
P
hoto by Nick Catford

Etherley Station looking west in May 1978
P
hoto by Alan Young


Etherley Station forecourt in August 1991.
Photo by Alan Young

Etherley Station looking west in October 2005
P
hoto by Roy Lambeth

Etherley Station looking west in February 2011.
Photo by Alan Youn
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:[Source: Nick Catford]


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