Notes: Situated between Witton Park and Howden-Le-Wear on the
former Bishop Auckland to Crook line, it was originally known
as Junction and then Witton Junction finally becoming Wear Valley
Junction in May 1872.
The station would logically have opened with the Wear Valley
branch on 3.4.1847 but it is not found in the company timetables
until September 1847 and not in Bradshaw until July 1848. However
evidence suggests trains stopped before the branch opened. The
line to Crook opened in 1844. Minutes of the Weardale and Bishop
Auckland company (line owners) on 17.10.1845 say they thought
a shelter should be put up at 'the Valley Junction' for passengers
from Witton-le-Wear and places adjacent, suggesting that trains
were already stopping to pick up passengers who had walked down
from Witton. Also on 29.4.1847 the Stockton & Darlington
(operating company) minutes gave instructions for painting a
nameboard here. Other nameboards ordered at the same time were
for stations already open.
The design of the main station building was similar in appearance
to others on the Wear valley branch line, with steeply pitched
stone slabbed roofs, tall projecting chimney stacks and stone
embellishments to the external walls.
had to join the Bishop Auckland line and reverse into the platform.
||The station layout was unusual in that the up and down platforms
were split about the junction. The down platform was situated
to the east (Witton Park) end and could easily serve trains
for Crook and beyond and the branch. The up platform (linked
by a subway) could only be used directly by trains from Crook
heading for Bishop Auckland. A passenger train from
Adjacent to the station was a crescent shaped engine shed with
a turntable and 9 stabling points. Built in 1876 it served the
many mineral trains working in the area. A signal box stood
at the junction controlling the through line between Crook and
Bishop Auckland, the Branch and adjacent mineral sidings.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WEAR VALLEY
RAILWAY (this is a shortened version taken from the Weardale
Railway Project web site. Click here
for the full version)
It was in the early days of the Stockton & Darlington Railway
Company, that a railway to tap the mineral wealth of Weardale
was first considered. However, it wasn't until November 1843
when the Bishop Auckland & Weardale Railway was opened from
Shildon Junction to Crook that any real attempt was made to
penetrate the dale. The line was leased and worked by the Stockton
& Darlington Railway. An extension of this line in 1845
from Crook to Waskerley was opened to serve as another outlet
for the Derwent Iron Company at Consett. The section of line
was originally called the Weardale Extension Railway but later
under a merger with the line from Stanhope to Consett, was known
as the Wear & Derwent Junction Railway.
A plan to penetrate Weardale proper was covered by the Wear
Valley Act of July 1845, which was to provide a line from Witton
Junction (Wear Valley Junction) on the Bishop Auckland &
Weardale Railway to Frosterley, with a connecting branch to
Bishopley, this opened on 3rd August 1847..
Wear Valley Junction signal box in 1965
- Photo by Roy Lambeth
In 1862 the Wear Valley line was extended to Stanhope
by the Frosterley & Stanhope railway, mainly to reach
the Newlandside Estate on the south side of the town where
large quantities of limestone were known to exist.
The final extension of the Wear Valley line to Wearhead
was opened on 21st October 1895. It was impossible to
extend the line from the existing station at Stanhope
and therefore a new one had to be built.
Between Eastgate and Westgate at Cambo
Keels, sidings were established to serve the Weardale
Iron Company's Heights limestone quarry. This quarry is
still operational today.
The passenger train service survived until 29th June 1953.
Up until closure, four trains per day had served the stations
of Witton-Le- Wear, Harperley, Wolsingham, Frosterley, Stanhope,
Eastgate, Westgate-in-Weardale-in-Weardale, St. Johns Chapel and Wearhead.
The freight service to Wearhead survived until 1961 when the
line was cut back the St. John's Chapel. West of Eastgate followed
in 1968, which is the present terminus.
Eastgate cement works were established in 1964 and brought
new life to the Wear valley line. Utilising purpose built container
wagons, cement was transported mainly by rail from the plant
to Teesside, Tyneside and Scotland. This operation ceased on
17th March 1993.
The line which existed until 2004 was single throughout between
Eastgate and Shildon. There is a connecting spur into Bishop
Auckland station - the terminus of the 'Heritage Line' passenger
service from Darlington. A summer only Sunday passenger train
service to Stanhope operated as an extension to the Darlington
service between 1988 & 1992. The success of this service
was instrumental in reopening the station at Etherley (renamed
Witton Park), in August 1991.
the reopening of the
first section between Stanhope and Wolsingham in July 2004.
|A campaign to save the line west of Bishop Auckland, now known
as the Weardale Railway, began in 1993 with the threat of closure
and track uplift a real possibility after the last cement train
ran. Until 2004, the line was mothballed, but purchase by Weardale
Railways Limited has now been achieved and the first works trains
began running in 2004 in preparation for
In February 2005 Weardale Railways Ltd, the company operating
the line ran into financial difficulties and it was necessary
to call in an administrator. No service operated during 2005
but the Weardale Railway Project are hopeful of of a satisfactory
outcome in the near future with a resumption of services some
time in 2006.
Weardale Railway Project web site. Tickets from Michael Stewart
for Roy Lambeth's memories of the Wear Valley line in the late
1950's & 1960's
To see the other
stations on the Wear Valley Railway click on the station name:
(1st), Stanhope (2nd),
St. John's Chapel