Station Name: HYLTON

[Source: Alan Young]

Date opened: 1.6.1853

At former level crossing, immediately south-west of High Street, South Hylton. Present South Hylton Metro station (opened 31 March 2002) is on the opposite side of High Street.

Company on opening: York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway
Date closed to passengers:


Date closed completely: 4.10.1965
Company on closing:

Passengers: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Goods: British Rail (North Eastern Region)

Present state: Demolished
County: Durham (now Tyne & Wear)
OS Grid Ref: NZ354566
Date of visit: 20.6.2013

Notes: The line from Sunderland to Leamside opened on 20 February 1852 for goods traffic and on 1 June 1853 for passengers, and a station was provided at Hylton from the outset. Although Hylton is now a suburb of Sunderland it was little more than a village when the railway reached it, the station being at the southern limits of the settlement. The main two-storey building at the station was on the down (Sunderland-bound) platform, built of brick, and somewhat austere in character. The roofs were slated and low-pitched. A gabled section at the north-east end projected towards the platform from the rest of the building and had a ground floor bay. Passengers were sheltered by an awning attached to the building. A pent-roof wooden shelter stood immediately south-west of the main building. On the up platform was a timber waiting shed under a pitched slate roof with generous provision of windows onto the platform.

When the railway opened the immediate surroundings of Hylton were rural, but the village lay in the ‘Great Northern’ coalfield and the prosperous docks and port facilities of Sunderland were only a couple of miles to the east. By the 1870s South Hylton ironworks, south-west of the station, was reached by a short branch off the railway. By the end of the nineteenth century more housing had been built north of the station, and a goods yard had been developed behind the down platform, with four sidings including a loop. A goods shed and three-ton crane were provided, and a branch served South Hylton Forge.

NER statistics for 1911 reveal that the station served a population of 5,629 and that 99,017 tickets were issued. Hylton’s goods traffic included iron and steel, cinders and livestock; paper was, however, the principal traffic, with the large Ford paper mill between Hylton and Pallion stations served by railway sidings. By 1920 villas had spread south of the station, and in that year ten up trains called on Monday-to-Friday, 11 on Saturdays and four on Sundays; in the opposite direction the service was of similar frequency.

In 1923 at the Grouping of Britain’s railways the NER lines, and thus Hylton station, were allocated to the London & North Eastern Railway. During the LNER era the station received the familiar wooden running-in boards with the station name in metal letters pegged to the board. By the late 1930s a new housing estate had been built south of the station.

At nationalisation in January 1948 the former LNER lines and stations in north-east England were placed within the North Eastern Region of British Railways. BR showed little inclination to modernise the station, which retained gas lighting and LNER signage. Train services were adequate to serve commuters travelling to and from Sunderland, with an infrequent service during the day. In 1951, despite competition from buses, Hylton issued 54,250 tickets, substantially more than other intermediate stations between Durham and Sunderland. Whilst the neighbouring station at Millfield closed in 1955 and Pallion, Cox Green and Penshaw were relegated to ‘halts’, Hylton continued to be a staffed station.

Up trains winter 1963-4


Down trains winter 1963-4








7.18am Sat Exc


10.54am Sat Only


7.38am Sat Exc






1.09pm Wed Only




2.15pm Sat Only


12.45pm Sat Only







Bishop Auckland

1.48pm Sat Exc


5.19pm Sat Exc




5.19pm Sat Only




5.46pm Sat Exc

Bishop Auckland



5.46pm Sat Only








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. Goods-handling facilities were retained at Hylton until 4 October 1965, and the line through the station continued to handle goods and mineral traffic until 21 August 1967. After this date Hylton Quarry sidings, a short distance on the Sunderland side of the station, were westernmost extent of the line. The station was demolished by 1976.

Hylton returned to the railway map on 31 March 2002 when the eastern end of the Durham – Sunderland line was reopened as part of the Tyne & Wear Metro, some of it on a new alignment. The South Hylton terminus of the new line is on the opposite side of the level crossing from the original station.

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, Cox Green, South 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

Looking north-west towards Hylton station and level crossing c1905.

1873 1:2,500 OS map. The surroundings of Hylton station are rural in 1873, but an inn and some short terraces have appeared to the north-west. The station building is shown on the down (north-west) platform, close to the crossing, and a structure is shown opposite it on the up platform; if this was a waiting shelter it was later replaced with another some distance south-west.

1896 1:2,500 OS map. By the end of the nineteenth century more housing has been built north of the station, and a goods yard had been developed behind the down platform, with four sidings including a loop. A goods shed and three-ton crane are provided, and branches serve South Hylton Forge and South Hylton ironworks.

Hylton station staff pose for the photographer on the down platform c first decade of the 20th century. The High Street level crossing and signal box are seen in the background.
Photo received from Patrick Perry

Hylton station is seen from the signal box in 1926, looking south-west. On the down (Sunderland-bound) platform the main building with its awning is shown well, and a timber waiting shed is beyond it. On the platform a schoolboy admires loco No.1724 standing at the station with an out-of-gauge load. The engine was built for the NER in June 1899 to a Wilson Worsdell design at Darlington works. Modified by Raven, it was withdrawn in August 1938 and broken up later that year. In the background the South Hylton ironworks complete the scene.
Photo by HGW Household

Looking north-east on the down platform of Hylton station c1938. On this platform an enclosed timber shelter partly obscures the main building. The up platform also has an enclosed timber waiting shelter, but of a different design. NER platform furniture is still in place: the coiled serpent benches and the gas casement lamps. The NER signal box is seen beyond the level crossing.
Photo from John Mann collection

Looking north-east along the down platform at Hylton in 1959. Apart from a decapitated lamp standard the station is in good order. Beyond the LNER running-in nameboard is a well maintained garden, and further off a waiting shelter and the main building. On the up side the passenger shelter
and signal box can be seen.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

A Metro Cammell (later Class 101) DMU pulls out of Hylton in the early 1960s on its way to Sunderland. The signal box, traditional crossing gates, gas lamp, semaphore signal and lineside telegraph poles are all captured here: standard features then, but all are rarely found today.

Looking north-east at Hylton station in 1964 from a Durham-bound train. The down platform is seen here with the waiting shed and station building beyond.
Photo by Roy Lambeth

Looking south-west at Hylton station in 1964 from a Sunderland-bound train. Beyond the crossing the up platform can be seen with an LNER running-in nameboard, a gas lamp and a waiting shelter.
Photo by Roy Lambeth

Hylton station in July 1967, looking north-east from the site of the demolished up platform. The down platform has also been removed, but the station building remains in place, as does the signal box on the up side immediately beyond the level crossing.
Photo from John Fleming collection / SINE project

The site of Hylton station looking north-east in December 1989. The route through Hylton lost its passenger services in 1964 and freight in 1967. Forsters foundry is seen on the left; this has now been replaced by houses. Hylton was the busiest station on the line, partly due to lack of
good bus services to Sunderland.
Photo by Alan Lewis from his Ipernity photo gallery

Looking south-west from the level crossing at the site of Hylton station in June 2013. The Tyne & Wear Metro South Hylton terminus is behind the photographer on the other side of the level crossing. This is the start of the 12.4 mile C2C Stanley to South Hylton footpath and cycleway.
Photo by Roy Lambeth



June 2013

June 2013

Click on thumbnail to enlarge




[Source: Alan Young]

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