Station Name: HARPERLEY

 

[Source: Nick Catford]



Date opened: First in timetable 1861
Location: At the end of a private road on the Harperley Hall Estate
Company on opening: Bishop Auckland & Weardale Railway
Date closed to passengers: 29.6.1953
Date closed completely: 1.10.1955
Company on closing: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Present state: The northbound platform is extant while the southbound platform has been reduced to a mound of soil except for a short section where a stream passes under the line and platforms. The station buildings and house have been demolished.
County: Durham
OS Grid Ref: NZ117348
Date of visit: 28.8.1964 & April 2006

Notes: This was the remotest station on the branch with no public vehicular access. It was opened as a small halt to serve the nearby Harperley Hall and its estate in 1861 but no longer appeared in a public timetable after May 1864. It was extensively enlarged and reopened on 1.11.1892 to serve the local ganister (a siliceous clay) and timber contractor who were provided with sidings either side of the line.

Adjacent to an open level crossing was a signal box, which controlled the double line section through the station to allow trains to pass. The signal box closed in 1958.

Perhaps due to its remote location yet ease of access by rail, a Polish POW camp was sited close to the station during WW2. The camp is complete and has been opened as a visitor attraction.

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


Harperley Station in early 20th century
P
hoto from Weardale Railway Project web site


Harperley Station in August 1964
Photo by Roy Lambeth

Harperley Station looking north west in April 2006
Photo by Hadrian Thackray

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]


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