Station Name: WEAR VALLEY JUNCTION

 

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: Probably by 1845 (see notes)
Location: 400 yards north of Low Lane - no road access
Company on opening: Bishop Auckland & Weardale Railway
Date closed to passengers: 8.7.1935
Date closed completely: 8.7.1935
Company on closing: London & North Eastern Railway
Present state: Demolished
County: Durham
OS Grid Ref: NZ167318
Date of visit: Not visited

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.

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
the branch, had to join the Bishop Auckland line and reverse into the platform.

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.

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
the reopening of the first section between Stanhope and Wolsingham in July 2004.

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.

See The Weardale Railway Project web site. Tickets from Michael Stewart

Click here 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: Bishop Auckland, Etherley, Witton-le-Wear, Harperley, Wolsingham, Frosterley, Stanhope (1st), Stanhope (2nd), Eastgate, Westgate-in-Weardale, St. John's Chapel & Wearhead


Wear Valley Junction Station. The unusual platform arrangement can clearly be seen. Only the down platform could serve the branch directly, up trains from the branch had to back into the station.
P
hoto from Weardale Railway Project web site



Rare view of the half roundhouse at Wear Valley Junction in c.1930
Photo received from Roger Griffiths

Wear Valley Junction signal box
P
hoto from Weardale Railway Project web site


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

 

 

 

:[Source: Nick Catford]


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