Notes: Romaldkirk Station was not ready when the line opened and first appeared in the company timetable in July 1868. Unusually the goods depot at Romaldskirk was sited 1/4 mile south of the passenger station at NY993226.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MIDDLETON-IN-TEESDALE BRANCH
The Stockton & Darlington Railway opened a line to Barnard Castle in 1856; the railway was called the Darlington and Barnard Castle railway. Barnard Castle got a second station in 1861 when the South Durham & Lancashire Railway built their line to Barras.
The two stations were some distance apart necessitating a long walk; to alleviate this, the second station became a through station on 1st May 1862 and on the same day the original Stockton & Darlington terminus was closed. The whole line and its branches eventually became part of the Stockton and Darlington railway which was absorbed into the North Eastern Railway in 1863.
There was a proposal to build a line from the Stockton & Darlington at Barnard Castle to Alston but this was never built in its entirety. Only the southern section of this line was built by the independent Tees Valley Railway who opened a single track 8 3/4 mile branch from Barnard Castle to Middleton on 13th May 1868 with intermediate stations at Mickleton and Cotherstone. There were two major engineering features on the line, the Lunedale and Baldersdale viaduct (both still stand today). From the outset the line was worked by the North Eastern Railway. In 1882 the local company was taken over by the North Eastern Railway and in June 1884 the terminus was renamed Middleton-in-Teesdale.
Much of the lines traffic was stone with interchange facilities at Middleton-in-Teesdale Station. Middleton Quarry was opened shortly after the Middleton branch; it lay to the south east of Middleton Station to which it was linked by a standard gauge half mile long reverse. There was a loco shed on the other side of the Mickleton road. In the early 20th C, Park End Quarry was opened 1 ¼ miles north west of Middleton and the Middleton Quarry line was extended to serve it. This was soon abandoned in favour of Crossthwaite Quarry ¼ mile back down the line where the stone was of better quality. Middleton Quarry remained in use until c.1930 and Crossthwaite Quarry closed in April 1971 although rail traffic had been replaced by road haulage in 1951; the track was lifted in 1952.
Lunedale Quarry was developed shortly after the opening of the Middleton branch; it was served by a 2’ 6” gauge tramway with exchange sidings alongside the Middleton branch at Lunedale Quarry Signal Box half way between Mickleton and Middleton. There was a loco shed at the sidings. In c.1885 a further 2 mile branch was later laid from the sidings to Greengates Quarry with a tunnel under the Middleton - Brough road.. A passenger service was provided on this branch for quarrymen travelling in open tubs; Greengates Quarry closed in 1917. (click on links above to see pictures)
In 1914 a contractor’s 4 mile long narrow gauge line was opened to serve the Grassholme Reservoir south of Middleton-in-Teesdale with exchange sidings adjacent to the Tees Valley line north west of Mickleton station.
The Middleton branch never carried heavy passenger traffic; in 1922 there were five trains a day in each direction on weekdays and one train on Sunday. By 1950 this had increased to six daily trains but no Sunday service. The engine shed at Middleton was closed in 1957 when the steam service was replaced by DMU's but they couldn't halt the decline in passenger numbers and many trains ran virtually empty.
After the withdrawal of the Barnard Castle to Penrith service on 22nd January 1962 through running from Sunderland and Newcastle ceased and all Middleton trains started at Darlington. The line was earmarked for closure as part of the Beeching cuts with the last passenger train running on 30th November 1964. Freight traffic lasted for a few months being withdrawn from Romaldkirk and Middleton-in-Teesdale on 5th April 1965.
The track had been lifted by May 1967 and today much of the course forms the Tees Valley Railway path with a car park at the former Mickleton Station site. The path starts near at Lonton, half as mile south east of Middleton-in-Teesdale and ends near Lartington two miles north west of Barnard Castle.
To see other stations on the Middleton-in-Teesdale branch click on the station name: Barnard Castle, Cotherstone, Mickleton & Middleton-in-Teesdale