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service between Bishop Auckland and Crook was withdrawn.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.
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
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.
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.
Weardale Railway Project web site. Tickets from Michael Stewart
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:
(1st), Stanhope (2nd),
St. John's Chapel