Station Name: VELVET HALL

[Source: Alan Young]


Date opened:

Line opened 27.7.1849. Station opened then or soon after.

Location:

Close to Velvet Hall, NW of A698. 200yd NE of junction with lane leading to the village of Horncliffe. Station Cottages are extant close to former railway bridge.

Company on opening:

York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway

Date closed to passengers:

4.7.1955

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:

Main station building is extant, with extension, and in residential use. Part of the up platform is in place.

County:

Northumberland

OS Grid Ref:

NT943491

Date of visit: January 1976, August 2001, June 2011

Notes: This was the first station on the line from Tweedmouth to Kelso and St Boswells situated 4 miles 10 chains from Tweedmouth. As seen on the East Coast main line, the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway (and its successor, the North Eastern Railway) had no qualms about providing substantial stations in sparsely populated areas, confident that intending passengers would be prepared to make their way to the station and that the surrounding countryside would produce or require a satisfactory quantity of goods traffic. Velvet Hall station stood in a lightly populated area about a mile from the village of Horncliffe. It took its name from a nearby farm. Ordnance Survey maps show both the farm and station to be ‘Velvethall’ until 1925, although the official rendering of the station name seems always to have been two words.

Velvet Hall station had two facing platforms, the up (Tweedmouth-bound) being 77yd and the down 82yd in length. The main building on the down platform was designed by Newcastle architects John and Benjamin Green, and the builders were Armstrong & Hepworth. The architects had designed many splendid stations on the recently-opened Newcastle – Tweedmouth section of the East Coast main line, but their NER Kelso Branch stations were to be less sumptuous as cutbacks in expenditure took hold. At Velvet Hall the two-storey station building was of stone with a slate roof and it combined the stationmaster’s residence and offices. Although the building was rather plain the gabled dormers and mullioned windows on both the platform and exterior elevations added some character. The building was extended north-eastwards in 1905 to provide larger accommodation for the stationmaster and his family. In its final form the ground plan included a general and a ladies’ waiting room; booking and parcels office; scullery and kitchen; and, in a single-storey section, a gentlemen’s toilet and coalhouse. It is thought that this was the third occasion when additions were made to the original building. The stone-built goods shed stood immediately south-west of the station building.

On the up platform the NER provided an enclosed timber waiting shelter with a notably high pent roof sloping down towards the back of the platform. The signal box (1880) was immediately south-west of this platform and was provided with a 14-lever frame.

The goods yard at Velvet Hall was situated between the road underbridge south-west of the station and the passenger facilities, and provision was made for a range of traffic. A loop from the down line passed through a four-cell lime depot, and branches from it close to the passenger station gave access to a five-cell coal depot and an ‘island’ loading dock between two sidings, one of which ended in the goods warehouse, behind the down platform and adjacent to the station building. On the up side a loop served the cattle dock.

Bradshaw of March 1850 gives the train service between ‘Sprouston (Kelso)’ and Tweedmouth in a narrative form with only the times of departure from the two termini stated and no reference to Velvet Hall or any other 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 February 1863 timetable gives specific departure times from Velvet Hall, as seen below.

February 1863
Up trains: weekdays

Destination

Down trains: weekdays

Destination

7.58am

Berwick

8.57am

Kelso

10.58am

Berwick

1.57pm

Kelso

3.53pm

Berwick

4.42pm

Kelso

7.53pm

Berwick

7.16pm

Kelso

Up trains: Sunday

 

Down trains: Sunday

 

9.33am

Berwick

7.12am

Kelso

8.07pm

Berwick

4.42pm

Kelso

By 1887 the frequency of the train service had increased. The August timetable, below, shows departures shortly before the Alnwick & Cornhill (Coldstream) branch opened.

August 1887
Up trains: weekdays

                     Destination

Down trains: weekdays

                   Destination

8.49am

Berwick

8.51am

Kelso

10.44am

Berwick

11.46am

Kelso

1.24pm

Berwick

2.26pm

Kelso

4.04pm

Berwick

4.56pm

Kelso

8.24pm

Berwick

7.01pm

Kelso

-

-

8.01pm

Kelso

Up trains: Sunday

Destination

Down trains: Sunday

Destination

9.59am

Berwick

7.46am

Kelso

8.29pm

Berwick

5.46pm

Kelso

Velvet Hall was never a busy station. Prior to World War 1, of the average of £24,000 worth of traffic on the NER Kelso Branch Velvet Hall contributed about £1,000, some 4% of the annual traffic, whilst Kelso and Coldstream combined accounted for about 75%.

NER statistics for 1911 show that the station served a population of 899 and 9,582 tickets were sold in that year. The Railway Clearing House Handbook of 1904 indicates that a full range of good traffic could be handled, although no crane was provided. Goods traffic handled in 1913 reflected the productive arable land in the locality. Barley was dispatched (597 tons), and potatoes (206 tons) and oats (112 tons) were also important freight; 248 wagons of livestock were also loaded at the station. As at other stations coal was brought in and distributed in the local area. A track plan dated 1905 indicates that the lime depot was no longer in place. Velvet Hall station also supervised the siding at West Ord (where there was a beet dock).

From November 1913 until July 1918 Mr J Frith was stationmaster at Velvet Hall. He was succeeded by Mr W Fogg in September 1918 who remained in post until July 1922. The timetable for July 1920 shows that Sunday services were still provided on the Kelso Branch, and that two of the Berwick - Coldstream – Alnwick trains called at Velvet Hall – one such train called in the opposite direction.

July 1920                  Up trains: weekdays

                     Destination

Down trains: weekdays

                    Destination

8.29am

Berwick

6.26am

Alnwick

10.46am

Berwick

8.55am

Kelso

4.09pm

Berwick

2.35pm

Kelso

8.43pm

Berwick

4.08pm

Alnwick

-

-

6.15pm

Kelso

Up trains: Sunday

Destination

Down trains: Sunday

Destination

10.16am

Berwick

8.41am

Kelso

7.56pm

Berwick

6.16pm

Kelso

In 1923 at the Grouping the NER became part of the new London & North Eastern Railway. The stationmaster at this time was Mr T Short who had been in post since August 1922. In March 1929 a new 15-lever frame was installed in the signal box. During the 1920s, here as elsewhere road motor transport began to provide an attractive alternative to rail, and passenger use of the poorly-sited stations on the former NER Kelso Branch declined. By summer 1931 Young’s Motor Service provided buses between Norham, Horncliffe (served by Velvet Hall station), Ord and Berwick with five Monday-to-Friday trips between Norham and Berwick, six on Saturday and four on Sunday. On weekdays four further runs were provided between Horncliffe and Berwick. The same frequency operated in the opposite direction apart from there being only three Berwick – Horncliffe trips.

In March 1931 Mr T Short’s time as Velvet Hall stationmaster came to an end. It is likely that at this time supervision of Velvet Hall was given to Norham, whose stationmaster was Mr H T Short. He was in post until March 1943 and three months later Mr N Liddle was appointed to be in charge of Norham and Velvet Hall, the position he held until March 1946. After an interregnum of more than a year Mr W A Watson became stationmaster of Norham and Velvet Hall, with Twizell station added to his responsibilities.

September 1937                  Up trains: weekdays

                     Destination

Down trains: weekdays

                    Destination

8.30am ¶

Berwick

7.46am ¶

Coldstream

10.40am

Berwick

9.00am

Kelso

1.10pm ¶

Berwick

11.45am ¶

Kelso

3.44pm

Berwick

2.13pm

Kelso

7.16pm

Berwick

5.41pm

St Boswells

-

-

9.38pm SO ¶

Sunilaws

Sunday: no trains

 

Sunday: no trains

 

SO  Saturday only      ¶ One class only

Velvet Hall station retained its Victorian character (with Edwardian extension!) during the LNER era, but the company installed its style of running-in nameboards with metal letters screwed onto a wooden board. Elegant Victorian oil lanterns of a casement design continued to adorn the platforms. In January 1948 at the station came under British Railways (BR) North Eastern Region (NE) administration.

By the early 1950s it was clear that passenger bookings at Velvet Hall and some of the other stations between Tweedmouth and Kelso were too few to justify keeping them open. In 1951 Velvet Hall issued only 176 tickets and in 1953/54 the annual takings at the station amounted to £125. British Railways 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.  Bradshaw of February 1955 shows four trains in each direction on weekdays, all of which call at Velvet Hall.

February 1955                  Up trains: weekdays

                     Destination

Down trains: weekdays

                    Destination

8.16am

Berwick-upon-Tweed

6.47am

St Boswells

10.13am

Berwick-upon-Tweed

9.35am

St Boswells

5.24pm

Berwick-upon-Tweed

3.43pm

St Boswells

8.42pm

Berwick-upon-Tweed

7.02pm

St Boswells

Sunday: no trains

 

Sunday: no trains

 

SO  Saturday only      SX  Saturday excepted

The June 1955 service differs only in that the 10.13am and 3.43pm departures are retimed on Saturday only. On 4 July 1955 Velvet Hall and the four other stations noted above were closed to passengers. Goods traffic continued to be handled at Velvet Hall until the line between Tweedmouth and Kelso closed to all traffic on 29 March 1965. The goods warehouse and the up platform shelter were demolished before the tracks were lifted, but the station remained substantially intact with the main building, both passenger platforms, weigh office and loading dock in place. A flat-roofed single-storey extension had been added to the north-east end of the building by 1976. Today the building is in residential use and a section of the up platform and weigh office are standing.

Tickets from Michael Stewart. Station certificates from Railways of Berwick & the Eastern Borders Facebook Group. 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: To see other stations on the Tweedmouth - St Boswells line click on the station name: Tweedmouth, Norham, Twizell, Coldstream, Sunilaws, Carham, Sprouston, Kelso, Wallace Nick, Roxburgh, Rutherford & Maxton & St Boswells

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


Velvet Hall Station Gallery 1: c1900 - c1963

Looking east at the station building on the down platform of Velvet Hall c1900. The building was designed by Newcastle architects, John and Benjamin Green who were responsible for a series of fine stations on the East Coast main line between Newcastle and Tweedmouth. This building is less ambitious, but has dignity; it is stone-built with mullioned windows and dormers on the upper storey. Above the doorway is a small, round-headed opening possibly intended to accommodate a clock. The  quadruple linked chimneystacks and the pair beyond are of stone, but the tinting of the photograph has emphasised the red brick of the single stack beyond. There are single-storey extensions to the building. In 1905 a major two-storey extension would be added, sympathetically designed and built of stone, at the far end of the building.
Copyright photo from J C Dean and John Alsop collections


1897 1:2,500 OS map. The single-word form, ‘Velvethall’, was not used by the railway. Considering its rural setting the facilities at Velvet Hall station appear lavish. The main station building is on the down (south-east) platform and a waiting shed faces it on up platform. South-west of the passenger station a loop is provided on the up side whilst on the down side a lengthy siding passes through the lime depot and leads to the goods shed (not named) and from it two sidings enter the coal depot where the weigh office is indicated by ‘W.M.’ (weighing machine). The nearest village, Horncliffe, is about a mile north along the road over which the railway crosses south-west of the station.

Architectural drawing by John Addyman (from North Eastern Express No.126, May 1992).

Looking east at the station building on the down platform of Velvet Hall before October 1911. The  two-storey section of the building beyond the second dormer, with cleaner stonework, is the 1905 extension to the building. Far right is the single-road goods warehouse. The oil lantern casements are of a more dignified design than those seen on the c1900 photo that they have replaced. The bench is of the coiled serpent style beloved of the NER.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Velvet Hall station looking south-west c1950. Beyond the LNER running-in nameboard on the down platform are the gents’ toilets then the two-storey station building, with the extension of 1905 nearest the camera. The prominent most distant gable is the goods warehouse. On the up platform the timber-built NER enclosed waiting shed can be seen with its remarkably tall pent roof. The signal box is at the far end of the platform. No footbridge or subway was provided at Velvet Hall, only the barrow crossings in the foreground and at the far end of the station which the gentleman in the hat and greatcoat has chosen not to use.
Photo from Alan Young and John Mann collections

Looking north-east at Velvet Hall station in September 1955, shortly after its closure to passengers. Behind the down platform (right) is the goods warehouse with a rake of goods vans on its siding. The station building is largely hidden by the warehouse. On the up side is the signal box and the platform with its distinctive NER passenger shelter.
Copyright photo by R M Casserley

The single-road goods warehouse and station building are seen at Velvet Hall looking east
circa late 1950s.
Photo by John F Mallon / NERA

Velvet Hall station looking south-west in 1958, three years after closure to passengers. On the down platform (left) are the station building and goods warehouse, and the tall NER timber waiting shed is still in place on the up platform.  At the far end of the station are the signal box and a barrow crossing, and the trackwork of the goods yard can be seen in the distance.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

Looking north-east towards Velvet Hall station in 1960. Although closed to passengers the three-coach train appears to have stopped at the down platform. The NER signal box and up platform waiting shed are seen to the left. The goods warehouse is seen to the right of the locomotive; this angle includes the awning that provides shelter when goods are being transferred to or from road vehicles. The loco is BR Standard 2MT No.78046, based at Hawick (64G) shed at this time. She was built at BR Darlington works in October 1955 and was withdrawn in November 1966 from 64A, St Margarets shed. Photo from Milepost 92½.

Velvet Hall signal box, looking west, c1960.
Photo by Roy Lambeth

The signal box and disused up platform are glimpsed from a Berwick-bound train on 7 April 1962.
Photo by Brian Johnson

Looking south c1963 from the up platform at Velvet Hall station. On the down platform the single-storey buildings to the left are the gents’ toilet and store with the two-storey station building beyond. The goods warehouse, seen on earlier photographs, has been demolished; it stood close to the position of the wagon and brake van. Perhaps the dog is the intended subject of the photograph.
Photo from NERA / Ken Hoole Study Centre

Click here for Velvet Hall Station Gallery 2:
Winter 1963/64 - June 2013


 

 

 

[Source: Alan Young]




Last updated: Wednesday, 27-Dec-2017 10:25:39 GMT
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