Station Name: WITTON-LE-WEAR

 

[Source: Nick Catford]



Date opened: 1852/5
Location: On the north side of the junction of Low Street and Station Road
Company on opening: Frosterley & Stanhope Railway
Date closed to passengers: 8.3.1965
Date closed completely: 1.11.1965
Company on closing: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Present state: There is no trace of the buildings or platform;the site being completely cleared in April 1973. The crossing box with an external ground frame is still extant (an usable) and the cattle and horse dock on the opposite side of the crossing is also extant. The station building from the first Witton-le-Wear Station is still extant alongside the track as a private residence.
County: Durham
OS Grid Ref: NZ151313
Date of visit: May 1968, 7.10.2005 & April 2006

Notes: The original station, which contains a Stockton & Darlington Railway ceramic plaque, still exists today as a private residence. It was located 20 chains west; Because of its location on a curve and incline, it was found difficult to start passenger trains from here and therefore a new station was built to the east. In the 1930’s this was the home of the LNER District Engineer, whose offices were in Bishop Auckland. The old station was close to the old A68 trunk road that runs through the village.

The new station was built adjacent to the road connecting the village to Wear Valley Junction. Its accommodation consisted of General Waiting room, Booking Office, Gents Waiting room, Ladies Waiting room, WC and urinals.

It closed to passengers along with all of the other stations on the branch on 27th June 1953. Goods traffic would continue to be dealt with until 1st November 1965.

To the west of the station there is a level crossing, which is controlled from an adjacent ground frame and still in use today (when trains run). Opposite the station were coal drops and a wooden single road goods shed. The working of these sidings is unclear.

Beyond the station and to the west across the level crossing was another siding which included a cattle and horse dock.

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. 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, 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, Wear Valley Junction, Harperley, Wolsingham, Frosterley, Stanhope (1st), Stanhope (2nd), Eastgate, Westgate-in-Weardale, St. John's Chapel & Wearhead


Witton-le-Wear Station before 1906
Copyright p
hoto from John Alsop collection



Witton-le-Wear Station in May 1968
P
hoto by Nick Catford

The site of Witton-le-Wear Station in October 2005
P
hoto by Roy Lambeth

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]


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