Station Name: LEAMSIDE (2nd site)

[Source: Alan Young]

Date opened: Probably 1.4.1857

On the south side of Station Road bridge

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


Date closed completely: 5.10.1953
Company on closing:

British Railways (North Eastern Region)

Present state: Demolished. Bridge abutments foot bridges survive on both sides of the track.
County: Durham (now Tyne & Wear)
OS Grid Ref: NZ313464
Date of visit: 22.6.2011

Notes: The layout of the new station at Leamside was designed for its role as an interchange with one broad island platform flanked by the through lines, and single-track bays at each end for local services that terminated there. The modest buildings in the middle of this platform were beneath a large hipped roof extending to the through-platform edges, supported by a series of columns. Two large water tanks sat on the roof, embellished by wooden panelling. Passengers reached the platforms by footbridges from pathways on each side of the railway.

Main line trains continued to pass through Leamside until 1872, when the direct Durham to Ferryhill route opened; the ‘new’ East Coast main line. Leamside’s importance immediately declined, and its facilities must then have appeared lavish when compared with the diminutive settlement that it served.

In 1912 the former North and South signal boxes were replaced with the new Leamside box, west of the lines and immediately south of the footbridge (which crossed the tracks immediately north of the platform buildings). A bridge over the southern end of the platform carried the Lambton Railway’s Belmont incline from Littletown (Lambton) Colliery. This mine closed in 1914, and the railway was lifted by 1939. Between Leamside station and Leamside Junction some 600yd south were a number of sidings. The freight facilities were on the up side between the first and second passenger stations, with a short goods dock and (in 1904) a two-ton crane. In 1913 NER statistics show that 11,228 tons of bricks and 21 wagons of livestock were handled at Leamside.

The winter 1937-38 timetable shows that Leamside’s most frequent service was on the Durham-Sunderland line, with seventeen Monday-to-Friday, 19 Saturday, and six Sunday trains to Sunderland; and eighteen weekday and six Sunday trains to Durham. Northwards to Newcastle there were seven trains on Monday-to-Friday and twelve on Saturdays, whilst from Newcastle there were eight on Monday-to-Friday, nine on Saturdays and one on Sundays. On the line to Ferryhill, which was to close to local passenger services on 28 July 1941, there were four weekday trains and one on Sundays, and five arrived from Ferryhill on weekdays. From 1947 the service between Newcastle and Leamside was all but extinguished, leaving only one southbound train calling at Leamside at 5:18 am. In Leamside’s final month of services there were nine Monday-to-Friday and ten Saturday departures to Sunderland, and eight on weekdays in the opposite direction; one Sunday train was provided in each direction. Several trains by this time omitted stops at Leamside. Passenger bookings slumped from 61,571 in 1911 to a meagre 5,968 in 1951: in comparison Fencehouses and Penshaw, the next stations northwards, each issued more than 20,000 tickets.

Up trains from 21 September 1953


Down trains from 21 September 1953



Barnard Castle




Bishop Auckland SX, Durham SO




Bishop Auckland









1.29pm SX




1.48pm SO




3.05pm SO


















SX Saturdays excepted

SO Saturdays only



Sunday 6.59am


Sunday 6.36am


Leamside closed to passenger and goods traffic on 5 October 1953, but it was used for some years after that by Newcastle – York trains diverted because of weekend engineering works on the main line and unable to call at Durham. From Durham a shuttle service ran over the four miles to Leamside to connect with the diverted trains. The rails were subsequently lifted, except on the through lines. By May 1959 the platform and buildings had been demolished, and the tracks were slewed across their site. In 1991 British Rail ‘mothballed’ and singled the line from Pelaw to Ferryhill through Leamside with a view to possible future use. However the tracks through Leamside became rusty and overgrown, and fly-tipping took place across the track just north of the station. In 2012 the decision was taken to close the line, and by November 2012 the tracks through Leamside had been removed.

The ‘Old Main Line’ was the name frequently given to the railway between Ferryhill and Pelaw in County Durham which, from 1850 until 1872 formed part of the ‘East Coast’ route from London (Kings Cross) to Newcastle. Prior to 1850 trains ran via Brockley Whins, prior to the opening of the Washington – Pelaw line, and until 1848 terminated at Gateshead rather than Newcastle. From 1872 the present East Coast main line route was used, with diversions in 1906 when the opening of King Edward Bridge removed the need to travel via Gateshead (West) and at Newton Hall Junction, north of Durham, where the curvature of the tracks was reduced in the late 1960s. The evolution of the ‘Old Main Line’ was far from straightforward.

By the beginning of the nineteenth century waggonways were already in existence to move coal from the mines in south-east Northumberland and north-eastern County Durham to tidal water for export. It stands to reason that passengers will have been carried unofficially on such lines, but the first recorded passenger transport by rail in north-east Durham was in 1834 on the Pontop & South Shields route. Originally opened as the Stanhope & Tyne Railroad, it was not established by parliamentary Act but was built on the ‘wayleave’ system under a Deed of Settlement dated 3 February 1834, perhaps to conceal the ambitious nature of the scheme, which was 33¾ miles in length. Under this arrangement the company was to pay a toll, based on the amount of traffic carried, to each landowner through whose property the railway passed.

The south-western end of the line was in Weardale, on the moors just south of Stanhope. Here limestone was quarried, and there were deposits of coal available at intervals between Consett and South Shields. In July 1832 building of the line began, and progress was rapid. Although much of the terrain it crossed was moorland at high altitude, few earthworks were constructed or excavated, and some steep slopes on the south-western section of the route were negotiated with inclines; indeed more than half was worked by inclined planes, either self-acting or with a winding engine, and a few near-level stretches were worked by horses. Locomotives were used only at the eastern end. Much of the line remained unfenced until it closed in the 1960s. The route from Stanhope lime-kilns to Annfield was opened on 15 May 1834, and the eastern section onward to South Shields on 10 September 1834. The engineer T E Harrison surveyed the route; he was to become one of the most influential personnel of the NER.

The carriage of minerals was the priority of the Stanhope & Tyne, and no attempt was made to serve centres of population which would generate passenger traffic. Nevertheless there were requests for passengers to be conveyed so they were permitted to ride free-of-charge on top of the coal wagons. Soon a wagon was attached specifically for passenger use, and shortly afterwards a separate locomotive-hauled passenger coach was provided fortnightly on pay days. Finally, on 16 April 1835, a full passenger service was instated between Durham Turnpike (one mile north of Chester-le-Street) and South Shields, possibly calling from the start at Vigo and Washington. At South Shields a nearby inn sold tickets, and passengers boarded the train in sidings. Part of this route, from Washington to Brockley Whins, was to become a section of the original ‘Old Main Line’. The isolated stretch of passenger railway between Durham Turnpike and South Shields was joined by the Brandling Junction Railway from Gateshead to Brockley Whins, three miles south-west of South Shields, opening to minerals on 30 August 1838 and passengers on 5 September 1839; and the Durham Junction Railway, stretching north from an obscure terminus at Rainton Meadow (with horse-bus connection to Durham) to Washington opened for mineral traffic on 24 August 1838 and passengers on 9 March 1840.

Unfortunately the cost of running the Stanhope & Tyne proved unsustainable. In the moorlands wayleaves cost about £25 per mile per year, but at the eastern end the figures were £300 or more. The outgoings on wayleaves alone amounted to £5,600. Plans for a dock (where Tyne Dock was later opened) were abandoned. Traffic did not develop to the expected levels and the wayleaves proved to be financially crippling. By the close of 1840 the railway company was £440,000 in debt, and it was wound up on 5 February 1841. The following year the Pontop & South Shields Railway obtained an Act to take over the northern end of its track which had hosted the passenger service. The Derwent Iron Company took control of the section south-west of Carr House to bring limestone from Stanhope to its furnaces at Consett. This section later passed into the hands of the S&D.

The Brandling Junction Railway (BJ) originated as a private venture by brothers R W and J Brandling to connect Gateshead, South Shields and Monkwearmouth. The brothers obtained an Act to buy or purchase leases for the land over which their lines would pass, but they chose to proceed by the wayleave system. A company came into being on 7 September 1835 to acquire the assets of the Brandling Railway, and as the Brandling Junction Railway Company it was incorporated by Act of Parliament on 7 June 1836. The Stanhope & Tyne also sponsored a Gateshead, South Shields & Monkwearmouth Railway, but discussions with the BJR resulted in the abandonment of the plan. The BJR opened in three sections. The first was from the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway’s Redheugh in Gateshead, adjacent to the River Tyne, which ascended at 1:23 through Greenes Field to Oakwellgate; this was operated by a stationary engine. A self-acting incline from Gateshead Quayside was opened with it on the same day, 15 January 1839. The route from South Shields to Monkwearmouth opened on 19 June 1839, followed by the connecting lines between Gateshead and Cleadon Lane (later East Boldon) and between Brockley Whins and Green Lane (north-east of Brockley Whins) on 5 September 1839. A chord known as the Newton Garths branch opened on 9 September 1839 between East Boldon and West Boldon junctions, immediately south-east of Pontop Crossing, but this was not used by passenger trains. On 9 March 1840 the west-to-north link between the BJ and S&T opened at Pontop Crossing which enabled through services between the several termini at Gateshead, South Shields, Monkwearmouth and the Durham Junction Railway’s Rainton Meadows to operate. However services from the south had, at first, to reverse from just north of Pontop Crossing to reach Brockley Whins in a complex operation (described on the Brockley Whins page).

The Durham Junction Railway (DJ) was authorised by an Act of 16 June 1834. It became an important link in the chain of railways forming the ‘Old Main Line’, the original intention was merely to redirect to the Tyne coal from the pits in the Houghton-le-Spring area, and from pits served by the Hartlepool Railway. Even these modest ambitions were not realised as its southern terminus was to be at Rainton Meadows, two miles short of Moorsley, its intended destination, and the Houghton-le-Spring branch, authorised by an Act of 1837, was never constructed. Nevertheless a ‘Station Road’ was partly constructed in Houghton – the triumph of hope over reality – which was to be one of the largest population centres in the North-East never to have the benefit of a passenger station.

The DJ’s crowning glory was the stately stone viaduct over the River Wear between Penshaw and Washington, and based upon the Roman bridge at Alcántara, Spain. The last stone was laid on the day of Queen Victoria’s coronation, 28 June 1838, thus it was named Victoria Bridge (or Viaduct). The engineer T E Harrison constructed four main arches, those at each end of 100ft span and the two central arches of 160ft and 144ft; the total length was 811ft and the height above water level was 135ft. In 1843 the DJ became part of the portfolio of the ambitious George Hudson (the ‘Railway King’) as part of his plan for an integrated east-coast route. The Act of 23 May 1844 which confirmed his purchase of the line also made provision for the project of bridging the Tyne.

At Washington the DJ connected with the Stanhope & Tyne whose metals were used as far as Brockley Whins. Here the BJ line was joined, and the passenger service between Rainton Meadows and Gateshead took this route from its inception on 9 March 1840. The S&T owned over half of the DJ shares and also worked the services. As noted above a reversal was necessary at Brockley Whins, and this inconvenience was compounded by congestion caused by the DJ and S&T/P&SS trains sharing the line between Washington and Brockley Whins. To allow more efficient operation powers were sought to construct a direct curve and to widen the line between Washington and Brockley Whins: an Act of 23 May 1844 authorised these projects. The curve was on a difficult site intersected by the River Don and was constructed on a wooden viaduct which stood until 1940. The viaduct was used by main line trains until 1 October 1850 when the more direct route between Washington and Pelaw via Usworth was opened.

For the next stage in the evolution of the ‘Old Main Line’ through County Durham it is necessary to return to the 1830s. The Great North of England Railway obtained its Act for a route from Redheugh Quay at Gateshead to Croft (south of Darlington) on 4 July 1836. After opening from York to Darlington the GNE decided, for financial reasons, not to construct the route onward to Gateshead, and on 5 October 1841 agreed to relinquish the powers to Robert Davies, James Richardson and John Hotham, who acted on behalf of the embryo Newcastle & Darlington Junction Railway. The N&DJ agreed to apply for powers to finish the line and pay all costs. The N&DJ was incorporated on 18 June 1842, and on 11 April 1843 the northern part of the GNE was transferred by Act of Parliament to the N&DJ. Work proceeded swiftly, and the line opened throughout on 15 April 1844 to mineral traffic and to passengers on 19 June. The short section between Belmont Junction (where the Durham branch left the main line) to join the Durham Junction line at Rainton Crossing was the last to be completed. There was now a direct railway link from London to the Tyne: on 18 June 1844, the day before the route opened to regular passenger traffic, a special train made history when it ran from London (Euston Square) to Gateshead in 9h 21m, including stops totalling 70 minutes. At the time of opening the N&DJ did not actually own the line beyond Washington, but had a station at Gateshead, reached via the P&SS and BJ railways: although only authorised by the Act of 23 May 1844 the station was illustrated by an engraving in a Gateshead newspaper four weeks later.

The early days of the N&DJ were difficult owing to strained relations with the GNE. For details see K Hoole’s Regional History vol 4.

The original ‘East Coast’ main line of 1844 therefore ran from Ferryhill to Gateshead via Shincliffe, Leamside, Penshaw, Washington, Brockley Whins and Pelaw. The Gateshead terminus was at Oakwellgate, which had opened on 5 September 1839. On 2 September 1844 Oakwellgate closed, and the service was diverted to the Greenesfield terminus, which had opened on 19 June 1844. This terminus, in turn, gave way to a new through station which would eventually be known as Gateshead East, when the main line was extended to Newcastle Central, crossing the River Tyne on a temporary bridge (opened 1 November 1848) then on the High Level Bridge, which opened on 30 August 1850. From 1 October 1850 the new, shorter route via Usworth was used between Washington and Pelaw, avoiding Brockley Whins. This ‘Old Main Line’ or ‘Leamside’ route was used until 15 January 1872 when through express services were diverted to the route via Durham.

The ‘Old Main Line’ continued life as an important freight route and retained its stopping passenger service between Leamside and Ferryhill into LNER days. This service - latterly amounting to four up and five down trains on weekdays and one up on a Sunday, calling at the intermediate stations of Shincliffe and Sherburn Colliery – was to have been withdrawn in 1939 but closure was deferred until June 1941. Thereafter the Leamside – Ferryhill line was used for passenger trains diverted from the main line via Durham and for freight traffic. In 1991 British Rail mothballed the line, but owing to dumping of rubbish on the lines, removal of rails at level-crossings, theft of 2½ miles of track near Penshaw in 2003, and effects of overall neglect Network Rail decided to close the line entirely and the rails were removed by April 2013. Concrete sleepers recovered from the route are understood to be destined for re-use on the Waverley Route currently under construction between Edinburgh, Galashiels and Tweedbank.

The Durham diversion was, like the development of the Leamside route, a result of evolution rather than one direct action.

Access to Gateshead from the south was via Leamside until 1872, when the present-day East Coast main line superseded it. However much earlier, in July 1846, the York & Newcastle Railway announced its intention to promote a Bill for a line following a route via the Team valley from Gateshead (and ultimately Newcastle). On 30 June 1848 the Y&N – by now the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway – obtained an Act authorising construction. The proposed route was from Gateshead via Team Valley to Newton Hall, where a branch to Durham and Bishop Auckland continued southwards, while the main line curved eastwards for about a mile then turned south to join the main line near Belmont Junction. However in 1849 the work was postponed owing to the downfall of George Hudson.

The NER in 1862 revived the project, but the line authorised was only between Gateshead and Newton Hall on the Bishop Auckland branch north of Durham, which had opened from Leamside in 1857. The section eastwards from Newton Hall had been constructed as part of the Bishop Auckland branch, but there was no west-to-south curve near Leamside to allow through running from the north onto the old main line via Shincliffe. Consequently the new line could be used only as an alternative route to Durham and the south via Bishop Auckland; and at first there were only four stopping trains in each direction between Newcastle and Durham. The Team Valley route opened on 1 December 1868, and it became part of the ‘new’ East Coast main line on 15 January 1872 when the line between Relly Mill Junction (one mile south of Durham) and Tursdale Junction (one mile north of Ferryhill) was completed.

Sources and bibliography:

Tickets from Michael Stewart. Bradshaws from Chris Totty & Nick Catford, 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, 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 , 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

Leamside second station c1910 looking south from the road bridge. In the left foreground is a small goods dock which probably incorporates part of the first station's platform - if it had one; the first station building is off the picture, bottom left. The ample facilities of the second station dominate this view. The bay, set into the island platform, was originally used by the connecting services to and from Sunderland between 1857 and 1872 when Leamside was an important Old Main Line interchange station. Beyond are two footbridges providing access from line-side paths, and the station building, with large hipped roofing sheltering the platform, is beyond. At this time the signal box was south of the station building, out of sight in this view. The rural setting of the station can be appreciated.
Photo from John Mann collection

1896 1:2,500 OS map. Both the first and second stations at Leamside can be seen in this map of 1896. The building of the first station is immediately south of the road bridge, east of the tracks and north of the cattle pens. The much larger facilities of the second station are seen to the south of its predecessor, with the two footbridges (shown as a singular feature) and signal box named. Towards the southern end of the platform a bridge carries the Lambton Railway’s Belmont incline from Littletown (Lambton) Colliery (beyond the map). This mine closed in 1914, and the railway was lifted by 1939. Immediately south of this bridge, Leamside South signal box is shown on the down platform; it was later replaced with a box to the west of the down line, facing the station building. The ribbon development of Leamside village consisting of terraced housing, an inn and a Primitive Methodist chapel, is seen along the road north of the station.

1960 1:2,500 OS map. Leamside second station closed in 1953 and was swiftly demolished, as seen on this map from 1960. The curtilage of the railway land still reflects the shape of the station and the earlier track layout; the rectangular incursion into field 3350 west of the railway is the site of the later signal box. The running lines have been slewed through the site of the former island platform. Some sidings remain to the south of the site. The Lambton Railway has been dismantled, but its route can be seen as a belt of woodland, an embankment and a track. A small estate of detached and semidetached houses has been built immediately north of Station Road.

Leamside second station looking north c1910. The bay in the foreground, set into the island platform, was originally used by the connecting services to and from Durham and Bishop Auckland in the period from 1857 to 1872 when Leamside was an important Old Main Line interchange station. Above the large, hipped station roofing the decorative blind arcading conceals a water tank; there were two such tanks above the roof. The station is gas lit and would remain so until closure in 1953.
Photo from John Mann collection

Looking north from the rail-side footpath at Leamside second station c1950. The station served only a small community, and judging by the number of waiting passengers many of whom have suitcases, main line diversions must be in operation with connecting services provided for long-distance travellers. This interchange role was Leamside’s primary role from 1857-72. A southbound train is entering the station. Interesting detail is visible under the roofing, including two styles of gas lighting, a collection of flasks or churns on a bench, and various posters on display. The two large water
tanks on the roof are prominent.
Photo by EE Teesdale from JC Dean collection

Looking north from the ‘up’ line footbridge at Leamside c1950 as a passenger train enters. The former Sunderland bay can be seen with track still in place. 60147 was built by British Railways in 1949 and entered service on 13 April at Gateshead shed. A Peppercorn designed A1 pacific named 'North Eastern', it had a service life of only 15 years when it was withdrawn from 50A, York North shed on 28 August 1964 to be scrapped that November. The first Leamside station’s building is in the background; the goods yard is seen to the right.
Photo by EE Teesdale from JC Dean collection

Both Leamside station sites can be seen in this view south from the road bridge, probably c1952. The single-storey building in the foreground belonged to the first station. The much larger second station complete with footbridges, platform buildings and signal box can be seen beyond. The signal box stands to the west of the down line, facing the station building, and replaced an earlier box which was on the down platform, south of the Lambton Railway bridge. The track has gone from the northern bay which was originally used by the connecting services to and from Sunderland between 1857 and 1872 when Leamside was an important Old Main Line interchange station.
Photo from Alan Brown collection

The site of the second Leamside station is seen in this view south from Station Road bridge. The large island platform stretched from about the position of the blue container in the old goods yard to a point beyond the distant bridge which formerly carried the Lambton Railway over the Leamside line. At this time a coal merchant was still operating from the yard. This view dates from 1991, the year in which the route was ‘mothballed’.
Photo by Alan Lewis from his Ipernity photo gallery

The sites of both Leamside stations looking south from Station Road bridge in February 2011. The tracks are ‘mothballed’ but clearly unusable in this state. Ivy has sprawled across the up track and fly-tipping and bank collapse have obstructed the down track. The following year the line was officially abandoned and the rails and sleepers were removed. The goods yard is seen on the left.
Photo by Alan Young

Looking south at the site of Leamside’s second station. The wall on the left is the boundary of the goods yard. No trace remains of the second station as it was demolished and the tracks were realigned soon after it closed in the 1950s. This view dates from June 2011.
Photo by Nick Catford

Looking south from Station Road bridge towards the site of Leamside 2nd station in November 2012, shortly after the track was lifted.
Photo by Jamie Martin from his Flickr Photostream

Looking north at the site of Leamside second station in October 2013, a year after the track was lifted. Station Road bridge is seen in the distance.
Photo by Ali Ford

.The second Leamside station had and island platform reached by two foot bridges from paths alongside the track. This is the abutment for one of the foot bridges seen in October 2013.
Photo by Ali Ford




[Source: Alan Young]

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