Station Name: SUNILAWS

[Source: Alan Young]

Date opened

7.1859 (First appearance in Bradshaw)

Location

On un-named lane ¾-mile south of its junction with B6350 at Wark village.

Company on opening

York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway

Date closed to passengers

15.6.1964

Date closed completely

29.3.1965

Company on closing

Passenger services: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Goods services: British Rail (North Eastern Region)

Present state

Station house in residential use; platforms and loading banks extant. Terraced railway cottages adjoin former down platform

County

Northumberland

OS Grid Ref: NT826374
Date of visit:

January 1976, August 2001, June 2011

Notes: There is some uncertainty about the early years of this station. It first appeared in Bradshaw as ‘Wark’ in July 1859 about a decade after the line opened, but the station building closely resembles that at Carham, the next on the way to Kelso which opened with the line or very soon after. In his chapter on the Kelso Branch in Addyman (Ed, 2011) J C Dean refers to a temporary station at Wark – perhaps wisely, no date is offered for its opening - which was replaced by a permanent one, so the building that survives today must have been constructed sometime after its neighbour at Carham. The building was possibly designed by John and Benjamin Green. These architects created the series of wonderful station buildings on the East Coast main line (ECML) in Northumberland, a number of which survive today, but their brief was to be less ambitious when the Kelso Branch station designs were commissioned.

As noted above, when the station opened it was known as Wark, named after the village about ¾-mile to the north. Almost coinciding with this station’s appearance in Bradshaw, another of this name, also in Northumberland, opened on the Border Counties Railway between Hexham and Reedsmouth. The North British Railway (whose station at Kelso was used by the North Eastern Railway [NER] trains from Berwick) had a strong interest in the Border Counties from the outset and quickly took it over. The NER was disinclined to share any of its stations’ names with another company, or to repeat a name in its own system, so to avoid confusion the station on the Kelso branch was eventually renamed, taking the name ‘Sunilaws’ from a nearby farm - although it appears that the spelling was incorrect. On OS maps of 1863 and 1899 the farm is ‘Sunnylaws’ but by the edition of 1924 the farm seems to have adopted the railway spelling. To make matters still more confusing, Sunilaws was actually in the parish of Carham – whilst Carham station was in the parish of Sprouston.

The two passenger platforms at Sunilaws were staggered either side of the level crossing. The up (Berwick-bound) platform, 88yd in length, was south-west of the crossing and the longer down platform (99yd) was north-east. At the neighbouring Carham station the platforms were on the opposite sides of the level crossing: up to the north-east and down to the south-west. The stationmaster’s house and offices were on the up side, close to the crossing. Although the office range was on the platform, facing the ramp, in front of the house was a track-level path from the wicket gate at the level crossing. The two-storey house was of smooth but uncoursed stone, with a dormer window facing the platform, adjoined to the north-east by a taller building, of simpler design. One house was possibly the residence of the stationmaster and the other of the porter – an arrangement found at some of the large station buildings on the ECML. A single-storey office range, notable for its extremely tall chimneystack, extended south-west from the station house. On the down platform an enclosed timber hut close to the crossing appears to have been the only shelter. Between this building and the crossing was the signal box, an N4 design with a brick base, constructed in 1901; it was equipped with a McKenzie & Holland 26-lever frame and gate wheel. The box was the second at the station, but little is known of the first, opened c1880, including its precise location. The coal yard at Sunilaws was on the up side of the tracks, facing the down platform and provided with a weigh office and loading bank. Other goods traffic was handled at a siding on the opposite side of the level crossing, on the down side and facing the up platform. Here, too, there was a loading bank. A terrace of four railwaymen’s cottages stood behind the down platform.

The goods facilities at Sunilaws station were shown in the Railway Clearing House Handbook of 1904 to be equipped to handle general goods, livestock and horse boxes / prize cattle vans, but there was no crane. In 1913 the local area, possessing arable and pastoral land of good quality, provided the 560 tons of barley, 203 tons of potatoes and 114 wagons of livestock that were dispatched from Sunilaws station. The farmland was lightly populated, with only 228 people served (according to NER statistics for 1911), much of whom will have lived in the village of Wark almost a mile distant. In the same year only 2,680 tickets were issued at the station.

Bradshaw of February 1863 shows the following passenger service at Wark station (as it was then called). The four weekday trains in each direction called at all stations, regardless of their importance, except that calls at Twizell were as required. The Sunday morning down train made request stops at Twizell, Sunilaws, Carham and Sprouston but was booked to stop at the other stations between Berwick and Kelso.

Wark station:

February 1863
Up trains: weekdays

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.31am

Berwick

9.28am

Kelso

10.31am

Berwick

2.28pm

Kelso

3.26pm

Berwick

5.14pm

Kelso

7.26pm

Berwick

7.41pm

Kelso

Up trains: Sunday

 

Down trains: Sunday

 

9.05am

Berwick

7.44am ‡

Kelso

7.45pm

Berwick

5.14pm

Kelso

‡ Stops when required: approximate time

The 1887 timetable shows a more frequent service on weekdays:

Up trains: weekdays
August 1887

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

8.21am

Berwick

9.18am

Kelso

10.16am

Berwick

12.13m

Kelso

12.56pm

Berwick

2.53pm

Kelso

3.36pm

Berwick

5.23pm

Kelso

7.56pm

Berwick

7.29pm

Kelso

-

-

8.29pm

Kelso

Up trains: Sunday

Destination

Down trains: Sunday

Destination

9.31am

Berwick

8.13am

Kelso

8.01pm

Berwick

6.13pm

Kelso

NER records show that the first stationmaster of Sunilaws in the twentieth century was Mr W Windus who was in post until November 1900. His replacement was Mr A McKenzie whose tenure lasted for only a few months; Mr J Forster was in place from the end of February 1901 until November 1903. In December 1903 Mr R Richardson became stationmaster and he held this post until November 1913; he retired at the end of the year. Mr W Harrison was his replacement, and his term of office extended to May 1917. After a short interregnum Mr H Pardoe was appointed in July 1917, and after his departure in June 1920 a Mr Purves became stationmaster in September 1920. While he was in office the station was transferred from the NER to the newly formed London & North Eastern Railway on 1 January 1923. The timetable below shows a diminished service on the section of the branch between Coldstream and Kelso.

July 1920                       Up trains: weekdays

                       Destination

                                    Down trains: weekdays

                          Destination

10.16am

Berwick

9.22am

Kelso

3.41pm

Berwick

2.59pm

Kelso

7.31pm

Berwick

6.40pm

Kelso

Up trains: Sunday

Destination

Down trains: Sunday

Destination

9.51am

Berwick

9.05am

Kelso

7.31pm

Berwick

6.40pm

Kelso

During the LNER era it seems that Sunilaws station received little investment. It is likely that the company installed new nameboards, but no photographic evidence has been seen of this. The winter 1937/38 train departures in the table below include services operated by steam railcar (indicated by * ‘one class only’) as an economy measure. A particularly interesting feature is the arrival of the railcar from Berwick late on Saturday evenings to terminate at Sunilaws at 10.01pm; it sets off back to Berwick at 10.29pm.  The choice of Sunilaws as terminus is curious. Was its purpose to enable the families in the remote station house and railway cottages at Sunilaws to enjoy some Saturday evening revelry in Berwick – with an option of returning promptly to Berwick if they wanted still more? Perhaps motor buses through the villages enabled inhabitants of Carham and Sprouston to enjoy the fleshpots of Berwick without the need for a train to serve them. It is not known how long this peculiar service to (and from) Sunilaws was provided; it is not shown in the summer 1938 timetable.

September 1937
Up trains: weekdays

                       Destination

                                 Down trains: weekdays

                             Destination

10.15am

Berwick

9.24am

Kelso

12.47pm *

Berwick

12.08pm *

Kelso

3.20pm

Berwick

2.35pm

Kelso

6.53pm *

Berwick

6.03pm

St Boswells

10.29pm SO § *

Berwick

-

-

Sunday: no trains

 

Sunday: no trains

 

SO  Saturday only      § Train starts here     * One class only

As to stationmasters, Mr Purves, who had been appointed in 1920 was in post at Sunilaws until March 1936. At some time during this period he was given charge of Carham station too. His successor, Mr G Whitehead, also had this joint responsibility. He left the post in August 1938, and it seems that from this time Sunilaws became the responsibility of the stationmaster of Coldstream and Sprouston’s stationmaster was given the job of supervising Carham.

At nationalisation on 1 January 1948 Sunilaws became part of British Railways (BR) North Eastern Region (NE). It seems unlikely that any buses would have stopped outside Sunilaws station, but they did operate on the main road through Wark that ran parallel to the railway, so Wark residents would have little reason to use their ‘local’ station. Early in the BR era the viability of the passenger services on the Berwick – Kelso – St Boswells railway was scrutinised British Railways. The 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 that annual revenue from Sunilaws amounted to £217, Velvet Hall £125, and Twizell £66 and the number of passengers travelling daily in an October census were four, six and two respectively. Four trains on weekdays still operated each way between Berwick and Kelso, and the last months’ timetable for Sunilaws is shown below.

February 1955                  Up trains: weekdays

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.47am

Berwick-upon-Tweed

7.13am

St Boswells

9.45am

Berwick-upon-Tweed

10.00am

St Boswells

4.55pm

Berwick-upon-Tweed

4.09pm

St Boswells

8.14pm

Berwick-upon-Tweed

7.26pm

St Boswells

Sunday: no trains

 

Sunday: no trains

 

SO  Saturday only      SX  Saturday excepted

The June 1955 table was essentially the same except that the 9.45am and 4.09pm departures would be retimed on Saturday only. Passenger trains called for the last time at Sunilaws on Saturday 2 July 1955 and the station was formally closed the following Monday.  As it served a wide rural area, goods and coal traffic continued to be handled until 29 March 1965, the day when the line was closed entirely. Sunilaws signal box remained in use until this date. The down line through Sunilaws station was lifted in early 1966 by Campbell’s of Airdrie; the up line was removed in 1969/70.

Sunilaws station remains remarkably well preserved, with both passenger platforms in place and remains of both the up and down side loading banks. The stationmaster’s house and office are in place as are the, now modernised, railway cottages on the opposite side of the road and trackbed. The signal box and shelter on the down platform have been demolished.

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, Carham, Sprouston, Kelso, Wallace Nick, Roxburgh, Rutherford & Maxton & St Boswells

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


Sunilaws Station Gallery 1: c1955 - cWinter 1963/4


Looking south-west at Sunilaws station c1955.  The ramp of the down platform and signal box are seen far left. Beyond the level crossing are the stationmaster’s house, offices (out of sight) and the up platform. The goods loading bank is facing the stationmaster’s house on the opposite
side of the tracks.
Photo from R W Lynn and Alan Young collections


1862 1:2,500 OS map. The station is shown as ‘Wark’, the name by which it was known until 1871. The station building is immediately south-west of the level crossing on the up (north-west) side of the tracks. Neither of the passenger platforms are clearly shown, however the coal depot’s siding and unloading bank are indicated on the up side north-east of the crossing. The boundary of the railway land is confusingly depicted by double lines which have the appearance of additional railway tracks.

1898 1: 2,500 OS map. The station has been renamed ‘Sunilaws’ after the nearby farm, although the NER has chosen its own spelling! The passenger platforms are shown, the up (Berwick-bound) south-west of the level crossing and the down north-east of the crossing. The station building has been extended since 1862, and a signal box and a passenger shelter are shown side-by-side on the down platform, close to the crossing. The coal depot’s weigh office (‘W.M.’ – weighing machine) is labelled. A terrace of four cottages has been built behind the down platform.

Looking south-west from the down platform of Sunilaws station in 1958. By this date the station is closed to passengers but goods traffic is still handled. An austere, enclosed timber waiting shelter is in the foreground accompanied by the NER signal box, an N4 type dating from 1901. The nameplate is almost illegible. Beyond the crossing gates is the up platform, the stationmaster’s house and (out of sight) the offices. Oil lanterns still adorn the up platform, but it appears that the nameboard has been removed which was normal practice at BR North Eastern Region stations when they closed.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

An unusual scene at Sunilaws station c1960. A down train, running early, smashed through the closed level crossing gates. The vexed crossing keeper is standing beside the fragments of a crossing gate. In the background (right) are the signal box and the railway cottages and (left) the coal loading bank.
Photo by I Pringle

Looking north-east at Sunilaws station c1962. The cleaner, right-hand crossing gates have replaced those smashed by a train – see the previous photograph. The up platform offices and adjoining stationmaster’s house, both of uncoursed stone, are shown clearly, together with a small timber-built store. The great height of the single-storey office chimneystack, built of brick, will be noted. The photographer is standing on the goods siding, which seems to be engulfed by vegetation, with the loading bank to his right. Beyond the level crossing the signal box (in use until the line was abandoned in 1965) and the rear of the station cottages can be seen.
Photo from R W Lynn and Roy Lambeth collections

On 13 September 1963 the 4.00pm St Boswells to Berwick-upon-Tweed train is approaching Sunilaws. The photographer is about 400yd south-west of Sunilaws station on the lane from Wark Common which crosses under the railway shortly before reaching the station; the warning sign (bends? / bridge?) is seen indistinctly in the distance. On the horizon the stationmaster’s house and railway cottages can be seen. The single coach is being hauled by 2MT 2-6-0 No.78047 operating out of 64G, Hawick shed. The locomotive was built in October 1955 at Darlington works and finished her working life at 64A, St Margarets shed in September 1966, after which she was cut up in January 1967 by Shipbreaking Industries Ltd, Faslane

Looking north-east at Sunilaws station, probably in winter 1963-64. The disused down passenger platform is seen to the right and the goods loading bank is to the left. At this time passenger and goods services operate through the station which has been closed to passengers since 1955.
Photo by Morrison Halbert from Roy Lambeth collection / ARPT collection

Looking north-east at Sunilaws station, probably in winter 1963-64. The stationmaster’s house and up platform ramp are seen far left.  To the right, this side of the crossing, are a goods siding and loading bank. Beyond the crossing are the signal box and a terrace of railway cottages.
Photo by Morrison Halbert from Roy Lambeth collection / ARPT collection

Looking north-east at Sunilaws station, probably in winter 1963-64. The stationmaster’s house and up platform ramp are on the left.  To the right, this side of the crossing, are a goods siding and loading bank. Beyond the crossing are the signal box and a terrace of railway cottages.
Photo by Morrison Halbert from Roy Lambeth collection / ARPT collection

Click here for Sunilaws Station Gallery 2:
cWinter 1963/4 - August 2001

 

 

 

[Source: Alan Young]



Last updated: Wednesday, 27-Dec-2017 10:34:45 GMT
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