Station Name: WOOLER

 

[Source: Nick Catford]




Date opened: 5.9.1887
Location: On the east side of Station Road. Station road runs between the station and the goods yard.
Company on opening: North Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 22.9.1930
Date closed completely: 29.3.1965
Company on closing: London & North Eastern Railway
Present state:

The main station building which incorporates the stationmasters house is still extant and divided into two residences. The trackbed between the platforms has been infilled up to platform level. The substantial goods warehouse in the yard also still stands and is currently used by a local antiques dealer.

County: Northumberland
OS Grid Ref: NT993285
Date of visit: 21.3.2006

Notes: Wooler was the most important intermediate station on the line, with a large goods yard and warehouse. There were four sidings on the west side of the line, one with a loop. One of the sidings passed through the substantial goods shed and another served coal drops.

Wooler was the only station on the line with two separate platforms, a footbridge, and waiting rooms on both sides on the line. In later years Wooler station house became a Youth Hostel. To prevent any ‘carry on’ between visitors, males and females had their own separate sleeping accommodation, on opposite sides of the railway line.



BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ALNWICK - CORNHILL BRANCH LINE

In 1881 there was a proposal to build a railway line from Rothbury to Wooler to be called the ‘Central Northumberland Railway’. This plan had the support of the North British Railway who were the North Eastern’s great rivals in Northumberland at the time.

Following local objection from people in Alnwick who didn't want to see agricultural traffic from the Wooler area being diverted to the market town of Rothbury Alnwick traders, politicians and local land owners combined to put pressure on the North Eastern Railway to come up with a counter proposal. The N.E.R. proposed the ‘Cornhill Branch’running from
their existing station at Alnwick through Wooler to a junction with the Tweedmouth to Kelso lined at Cornhill on Tweed.

Both proposals went before Parliament in 1881 but the Cornhill branch was by far the cheapest and an act was passed authorising the North Eastern Railway to build their 36 mile line from Alnwick to Cornhill; construction commenced the following year.

Alnwick station was lavishly rebuilt and to avoid the Duke of Northumberland's estate north of Alnwick, the line initially headed south with the expensive diversion requiring a tunnel and a viaduct at Edlingham.

After some delays the line finally opened to good and mineral traffic between Coldstream and Wooperton 2nd May 1887 and throughout for all traffic on 5th September 1887. The line was single track throughout with passing loops at all stations; only Wooler Station had a second platform and Whittingham and island platform. Initially the line was well used but this was
short lived and passenger services fell into decline after WW1 as the line was unable to compete with the new and more convenient bus services. Staffing levels were reduced, signal boxes closed and station masters were put in charge of more than one station but the line continued to lose money and an early decision was taken by the London & North Eastern Railway to withdraw passenger services. The final passenger train ran between Alnwick and Cornhill on 22nd September 1930, only 43 years after the line had opened

Despite losing its passenger trains the line remained open for freight mainly for local farmers, with regular goods trains. As a sideline the railway rented out disused waiting rooms and old carriages as self-catering holiday homes. These were known as ‘Camping Coaches’ and Cottages and they were a popular tourist attraction on this and many other lines from the 30's until the 60's.

WOOLER STATION JUST AFTER OPENING

During the Second World War the branch enjoyed a brief revival when Akeld station became the railhead for a new R.A.F. airfield at Milfield. After the war the airfield’s giant hangers were used for grain storage, and traffic to an from these helped keep the line open but the line's days were numbered.

The line suffered serious storm damage between Ilderton and Wooler in August 1948 with further storm damage the following year when as bridge north of Ilderton station was washed away. With such meagre traffic on the branch the newly formed British Railways could not justify the cost of replacing the bridge; instead the line became two lines; one from Alnwick
to Ilderton, and the other from Coldstream to Wooler bur the service was infrequent, sometimes only one train a week.

The section from Alnwick to Ilderton eventually closed on 2nd March 1953. The Coldstream (Cornhill) to Wooler stretch survived a while longer before falling victim to the notorious Dr. Beeching’s railway cuts. It finally closed in March 1965, along with the Tweedmouth to Kelso line. Railway enthusiasts ran a special passenger train into Wooler shortly before the closure.

Other web sites:
Northumbrian Railways
- The Cornhill Branch
Ilderton Station web site - includes a full history if the Alnwick - Cornhill line. Historical text taken from Ilderton Station web site. Tickets from Michael Stewart.

To see other stations on the Alnwick - Cornhill (Coldstream) line click on the station name: Alnwick, Edlingham, Whittingham, Glanton, Hedgeley, Wooperton, Ilderton, Akeld, Kirknewton, Mindrum & Coldstream.


Wooler Station looking south before August 1910
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection





Wooler Station looking south in 1971
Copyright photo by Nigel Mundy

Wooler Station looking south in March 2006
P
hoto by Nick Catford








Click on thumbnail to enlarge


 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]


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