Station Name: SPROUSTON

[Source: Alan Young]

Date opened

27.7.1849

Location

On un-named lane off B6350 at eastern end of Sprouston village.

Company on opening

York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway

Date closed to passengers

4.7.1955

Date closed completely

25.1.1965

Company on closing

Passenger services: British Railways (Scottish Region)Goods services: British Rail (Scottish Region)

Present state

Station house extended and in residential use

County

Roxburghshire (now Scottish Borders Region)

OS Grid Ref: NT759353
Date of visit:

January 1976, August 2001, June 2011

Notes: Sprouston was the westernmost station on the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway’s (YNB) Kelso Branch, several miles into Scotland.  From its opening on 27 July 1849 until 27 January 1851 it was the terminus of the line from Tweedmouth; on this date the North British Railway’s (NB) permanent station at Kelso opened and it was reached by YNB trains. The NB and YNB lines met at the end-on Sprouston Junction, a little over a mile south-west of Sprouston station. In Bradshaw of March 1850 Kelso, rather than Sprouston, is listed in the index although in the timetable the station is Sprouston (Kelso) for down trains and Sprouston (for Kelso) for up trains. The service is presented in narrative form with only the times of departure from the two termini stated and no reference to intermediate stations. Departures from Sprouston on weekdays are at 1.15am (stated as 1¼ morn.) – surely a mistake? – and at 2.45 and 6.20pm. On Sunday there are departures at 9.00am and 7.00pm.

The station building was designed by John and Benjamin Green, the Newcastle architects responsible for the YNB’s exceptionally fine stations on what is now the East Coast main line in Northumberland. The company put on a flamboyant display of architecture at Tweedmouth, its frontier station – Berwick was an NB building – and although the YNB purse strings had been tightened when Kelso Branch stations were designed, the company’s frontier at Sprouston was thought worthy of a more attractive building than was provided at Norham, Sunilaws and Carham; however it was on a smaller scale than the structure at Coldstream. At Sprouston the station was stone-built; on the up platform the stationmaster’s house of two storeys presented a gable to the platform beneath a ridged, overhanging slate roof. It was flanked by single-storey sections, each also with an overhanging roof, making for a nicely balanced elevation.  The north-eastern section was graced by a bay window on the booking office. Mullioned windows provided an impression of solidity. At a later date the North Eastern Railway (NER) added a waiting shelter on the down platform, opposite the main building. It was of stone construction with a pent roof sloping down towards the platform face and was partially enclosed. Both platforms were 96yd in length.

Reflecting its role as a terminus Sprouston station had an engine shed, although it was not constructed until 1863; it was a timber structure. This shed was destroyed in a gale on 14 October 1881, but rather than abandon it – larger sheds existing at Tweedmouth and Kelso - the NER provided a replacement in brick the following year. The new shed was single-road and was an austerely handsome structure; its hipped roof was capped by ventilators and there were four semicircular-arched windows in both of the side walls.

The earliest large-scale OS map shows four short sidings north-east of the passenger station on the up side of the running lines. A coal and lime depot is named and one siding serves a small goods warehouse immediately behind the passenger platform, close to the north-east ramp.

A 6,800-gallon water tank stood just beyond the up platform’s north-east ramp, carried on a 10ft brick plinth. The tank comprised standard cast iron sections 4ft 6in square with three sections by two horizontally and two vertically. The date 1864 was carried by the central casting. The station possessed two water columns; one stood at the north-eastern end of the up platform, adjacent to the tank; the other was at the west end of the down platform and was transferred to Alnmouth in 1944.

Circa 1860s a terrace of six cottages was constructed in stone, adjacent to the down line north-east of the station, for railway staff. A further terrace of three houses, this time in brick, was added circa 1900.

February 1863
Up trains: weekdays

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.20am

Berwick

9.40am

Kelso

10.20am

Berwick

2.40pm

Kelso

3.15pm

Berwick

5.26pm

Kelso

7.15pm

Berwick

7.56pm

Kelso

Up trains: Sunday

 

Down trains: Sunday

 

8.51am

Berwick

7.56am ‡

Kelso

7.31pm

Berwick

5.26pm

Kelso

‡ Stops when required: approximate time

NER records show that Mr G Ilkesley was stationmaster at Sprouston for a period until April 1879 and that he was succeeded by Mr J Muir the following month. How long Mr Muir held the post is not known.

The timetable below indicates that the NER Kelso Branch did not have a particularly frequent passenger train service, reflecting the sparsely populated rural landscape that it served.

August 1887   
Up trains: weekdays

                          Destination

                                  Down trains: weekdays

                         Destination

8.10am

Berwick

9.28am

Kelso

10.05am

Berwick

12.23m

Kelso

12.45pm

Berwick

3.02pm

Kelso

3.25pm

Berwick

5.33pm

Kelso

7.45pm

Berwick

7.41pm

Kelso

-

-

8.40pm

Kelso

Up trains: Sunday

Destination

Down trains: Sunday

Destination

9.20am

Berwick

8.23am

Kelso

7.50pm

Berwick

6.23pm

Kelso

The Railway Clearing House Handbook of 1904 indicates that a full range of goods traffic could be handled but that no crane was installed. NER statistics for 1913 show that the principal consignments dispatched were 361 tons of barley and 51 wagons of livestock. Apart from the nearby village of Sprouston the surrounding area was lightly populated amounting to only 876 inhabitants within the station’s catchment area in 1911; in this year 4,722 tickets were booked at the station.

Sprouston was provided with a signal box of uncertain design in the early 1880s, but this was replaced in 1912 with an NER box of N4 design located on the down side, diagonally across the public level crossing from the earlier box. The new box was fitted with 25-lever McKenzie & Holland frame. From 1 March 1940 a ground frame was installed at Sprouston Crossing, and a King lever released the Crossing ground frame when the signal box was switched out.

Sprouston engine shed closed, as an economy measure, in 1916 but it remained in place for about half a century until closure of the line in the mid 1960s.  During World War 2 the shed had the honour of accommodating a distinguished evacuee: GWR 4-4-0 City of Truro was sent here from the York Railway Museum. After this locomotive was returned to York in 1947 the shed remained empty.

Towards the end of the NER era the train service between Berwick and Kelso amounted to only three trains each way on weekdays and two on Sunday, all of which called at Sprouston. East of Coldstream the service was enhanced by two trains in each direction running to or from the Alnwick line via Wooler.

July 1920                       Up trains: weekdays

                       Destination

                                    Down trains: weekdays

                          Destination

10.05am

Berwick

9.32am

Kelso

3.30pm

Berwick

3.09pm

Kelso

7.20pm

Berwick

6.50pm

Kelso

Up trains: Sunday

Destination

Down trains: Sunday

Destination

9.40am

Berwick

9.15am

Kelso

7.20pm

Berwick

6.50pm

Kelso

For a period until March 1921 Mr Avery was stationmaster at Sprouston; his successor, Mr F S Houghton was in post only until November 1922. In January 1923 the NER became part of the new LNER, one of the ‘big four’ companies created at the ‘Grouping’ of Great Britain’s railways. In the same month Mr W H Warne was appointed stationmaster at Sprouston, a post that he held until March 1931. At some time during his tenure the supervision of neighbouring Carham station was added to his responsibilities. As at the other former NER stations between Tweedmouth and Kelso the LNER appears to have spent little on modernising Sprouston station, but it appears to have received new nameboards. Oil lighting was considered sufficient as it had been since the station opened. The winter 1937-38 train service shows four weekday trains each way, all of which call at Sprouston, but Sunday trains have been withdrawn. The 12.18 and 12.37pm departure is shown as ‘one class only’ in the timetable, and it is a return working of a Sentinal railcar.

September 1937
Up trains: weekdays

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

10.05am

Berwick

9.34am

Kelso

12.37pm §

Berwick

12.18pm §

Kelso

3.10pm

Berwick

2.45pm

Kelso

6.43pm

Berwick

6.03pm

St Boswells

Sunday: no trains

 

Sunday: no trains

 

§ One class only

During World War 2 Mr H L Wilson was stationmaster at Sprouston (supervising Carham) until August 1942, and he was followed by Mr W G D Thompson from October 1942 to December 1943. From April 1944 Mr G R Milner was in post; for how long is not known.

When the railways were nationalised in January 1948 the boundary between the new North Eastern and Scottish (ScR) regions of British Railways (BR) corresponded with the Anglo-Scottish border on the Kelso Branch. In the early years of BR there seems to have been little, if any, investment in the ScR stations on the branch, presumably because traffic was light and closure of the line was a possibility. The viability of the passenger services on the Berwick – Kelso – St Boswells railway was scrutinised by British Railways. Withdrawal of all trains running between St Boswells and Berwick was considered but because of the heavy parcels traffic, consisting mainly of fresh meat, game and poultry, it was decided not to effect a complete closure. However it was proposed to save £7,744 a year by closing Velvet Hall, Twizell, Sunilaws, Sprouston and Carham stations, all on the former NER section, and substantially reducing the number of trains; Norham and Coldstream stations would remain open. It was reported in an October census that annual revenue from Sunilaws amounted to £217, Velvet Hall £125, and Twizell £66 and the number of passengers travelling daily were four, six and two respectively. Although Sprouston station was, by the standards of this line, conveniently sited adjacent to its village, since at least the mid 1930s buses operated by Scottish Motor Traction and United had served the village en route between Cornhill and Kelso. The summer 1950 timetable shows that the first and last up trains of the day did not call at Sprouston (or Carham) whilst all other stations between Berwick and Kelso were served by every train. Bradshaw of February 1955 shows Sprouston’s train service in its final form; the June 1955 table differs only in that the 9.35am and 4.19pm departures are retimed on Saturday only.

February 1955        
 Up trains: weekdays

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

9.35am

Berwick-upon-Tweed

7.23am

St Boswells

4.45pm

Berwick-upon-Tweed

10.09am

St Boswells

8.05pm

Berwick-upon-Tweed

4.19pm

St Boswells

 

 

7.35pm

St Boswells

Sunday: no trains

 

Sunday: no trains

 

SO  Saturday only      SX  Saturday excepted

On Saturday 2 July 1955 passenger trains made their final calls at Sprouston, Carham, Sunilaws, Twizell and Velvet Hall stations, and they officially closed to passengers two days later, on Monday 4 July. From this date the already infrequent train service on the line was reduced. Sprouston remained open for goods traffic but was demoted to an unstaffed public siding on 15 June 1964 (the date when the line closed to passengers) before closing completely on 25 January 1965; the line closed entirely on 29 March 1965, the date when Sprouston signal box was decommissioned. The box was partially demolished soon after, probably by late summer 1965.  By this time the water tank had been removed, leaving only the brick plinth. The passenger station remained in good condition for many years, although the shelter on the down platform was removed at some stage between 1964 and 1968; the engine shed was demolished at about the same time. The two terraces of railway cottages were demolished sometime after 1972.  The main building stood derelict for many years but has since been substantially expanded and is in residential use.

Tickets from Michael Stewart. Route map drawn by Alan Young

Click here for a brief history of the
Tweedmouth - St Boswells line

To see other stations on the Tweedmouth - St Boswells line click on the station name: Tweedmouth, Velvet Hall, Norham, Twizell, Coldstream, Sunilaws, Carham, Kelso, Wallace Nick, Roxburgh, Rutherford & Maxton & St Boswells

See also Jedburgh branch: Kirkbank, Nisbet, Jedfoot & Jedburgh


Sprouston Station Gallery 1: c1942 - c1965

During World War 2 (1939-45) the engine shed at Sprouston, officially closed since 1916, was used to store GWR City Class 4-4-0 No.3440 ‘City of Truro’; it was moved to this place of safety from York Railway Museum. Here the venerable locomotive is under a protective covering and is being shunted out of the shed.
Photo from R W Lynn collection


1863 OS 1:2,500 map. Sprouston station is close to the eastern edge of the village of this name and south-west of a level crossing. The station building is shown on the up (north-west, Berwick-bound) platform with a waiting shed opposite on the down platform. A goods warehouse is shown behind the north-eastern end of the up platform. A two-road ‘Coal and Lime Depot’ is also located on the up side of the line.

1898 OS 1: 2,500 map. This map shows the engine shed adjacent to the coal and lime depot (named on the 1863 map). Although the original engine shed was constructed in 1863 it was not shown on that year’s map, and the shed shown here replaced the storm-damaged first shed. The first signal box is shown (but not named) immediately west of the level crossing on the up (north-west) side of the tracks. The first terrace of railway cottages, constructed c1860s is close to the crossing.

1921 OS 1:2,500 map. The most significant change is the provision of a second row of railway cottages on the down side of the tracks, south-west of the first row. The signal box built in 1912 is indicated immediately north-east of the crossing on the down side; it replaced the original box on the opposite side of the tracks. The coal and lime depot is not named but the weigh office (‘W.M.’ = weighing machine) is labelled at the south-western end of the depot. The engine shed (not named) with the single railway track extending through it closed in 1916 but would remain in place until the mid 1960s.

Sprouston station looking north-east c1950 from the up platform. The stationmaster’s house and offices are left foreground, and beyond are the water column and tank. The waiting shed on the down platform is of NER provenance and has a masonry front to the enclosed section. The two terraces of railway staff cottages are to the right of the level crossing. They are of distinctly different design: the nearer terrace, built of brick c1900, is substantially taller than the older row beyond which it partly conceals.
Photo from John Mann collection

Sprouston station looking north-east on 26 April 1952. The substantial buildings on the left (up) platform combine the stationmaster’s two-storey house and single-storey offices. Beyond the end of this platform the water tank, water column and disused engine shed are visible. The station is lit by oil and elegant, post-mounted lanterns can be seen on both platforms. In the distance, beyond the down platform, are the c1900  terrace of railway staff cottages, the signal box and the level crossing.
Photo by J W Armstrong from Armstrong Railway Photographic Trust

Sprouston station looking north-east on 14 March 1955. By this date the station has been earmarked for closure to passengers, and this would take effect a little under four months later. The station appears well maintained and its buildings and fittings can be enjoyed on this well-composed photograph.
Photo by C J B Sanderson from the Armstrong Railway Photographic Trust collection

On an unknown date in the 1950s or early 1960s a BR 2MT 2-6-0 is on shunting duties at Sprouston station. The former engine shed is to the right.
Photo from Alan Young collection

The former single-road engine shed at Sprouston looking north in August 1959. This brick building replaced an earlier timber shed that collapsed during a gale on 14 October 1881. It would stand for a few more years and is understood to have been demolished at some point between 1964 and 1968. The water tank creeps into this view, left foreground.
Photo by R S Carpenter

Looking south-west towards Sprouston station and goods yard from the level crossing in August 1964. The engine shed seen on the right has been devoid of a shed road for many years. The goods dock with side and end loading is seen between the shed and the water tank. The siding to the right of the goods shed ran alongside another dock. The water tank would be removed with a year - see picture below.
Photo from Roger Griffiths collection

Looking north-east at Sprouston, with the disused passenger station immediately behind the camera. The tracks are rusty, suggesting that the photo dates from late summer 1965, several months after the line closed to all traffic. The signal box closed in March 1965, and the cabin (right of the tracks, beside the crossing) has been demolished leaving only the brick base and chimneystack. In the foreground is the brick plinth that formerly carried the water tank. A corner of the disused engine shed is seen beyond it. The two rows of railway staff cottages are right of the tracks; the more distant terrace (thought to date from the 1860s) is stone built and the taller, brick-built block was constructed c1900. Since the picture above, taken in August 1964, the sidings have been lifted and the points replaced with new track.
Photo by Morrison Halbert from Roy Lambeth collection / ARPT collection

Although closed to passengers since 1955, this south-westward view - possibly in late summer 1965, several months after complete closure of the branch from Tweedmouth to Kelso – shows Sprouston station’s platforms and buildings extant; only the removal of platform lamps indicates that passenger trains no longer call here. The generously sized building on the right (up) platform is of uncoursed stone and combines a two-storey stationmaster’s house with offices and other facilities in the two flanking single-storey wings. The overhanging roofs at the two levels create a pleasing, balanced elevation to the buildings. The far more modest waiting shed on the down platform is almost concealed from view. The goods yard at Sprouston remained in use until January 1965; since June 1964 it had been an unstaffed public siding.
Photo by Morrison Halbert from Roy Lambeth collection / ARPT collection

Click here for Sprouston Station Gallery 2:
c1965 - June 2013

 

 

 

[Source: Alan Young]



Last updated: Wednesday, 27-Dec-2017 10:41:52 GMT
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