History of Railways in County Durham

This refers to the pre-1974 boundary of County Durham, after which Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Darlington, Stockton on Tees and Hartlepool became independent local government authorities. Part of North Yorkshire is now in County Durham.
National Grid references are shown to the nearest kilometre square.

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Category D - The 1951 plan to demolish coal mining villages in County Durham.

www.disused-stations.org.uk - lists and photos of closed railway stations in the UK.


Wooden Waggonways

From the 1600s wooden waggonways took coal from pits in North Durham to staiths on the Tyne at Stella, Derwent Haugh and Dunston. Each single waggon was drawn by a horse. One horse could haul over 2 tons of coal. The speed was controlled by the waggonman using a brake or convoy which acted upon the rear wheels.

Staiths were sheds at the river bank where valuable loaded coal waggons could be kept under cover. On arrival at the staith the horse was unhitched, then the waggon was pushed by the waggonman to a turntable inside the shed. The coal was teemed down the spout into the keel boat to be taken down river for transfer into sea-going collier ships. The empty waggon was pushed to another turntable to exit the shed and the horse was hitched for the return journey to the colliery.

Wayleaves were financial agreements between landowners and those seeking permission to build a waggonway over their land. Access to valuable coal reserves could be blocked by landowners in favour of their own partners. Waggonways did not always take the the most direct way or easiest gradient because of obstruction by landowners. The wayleave specified the width needed, which could be 16 yards (about 14 metres) for double track on an embankment. Acts of Parliament were later used for railways to get compulsory purchase of the land.

Cuttings and embankments (cuts and batteries) were made to gain an even road for the horses. This was a century before the canal era in Britain. Frames of wooden track were made up of rails and sleepers. The track gauge varied because the waggonways were not planned as a single system. To prolong the track life a second layer or double way of renewable rail was nailed on, allowing deeper ballast to keep the horses' hooves off the sleepers. Malleable iron plates were fixed to the rails where there was heavy wear. The simplest waggonways had a single track with passing places called bye stands or sidings at intervals. Double track had the full waggons going on the main way. The empty waggons returned on the bye way, which did not need to be so heavily constructed as the main way, or even follow the same route.

The earliest waggonways served pits around the Whickham area. In the 1700s waggonways reached as far west as Mickley Moor NZ0861 and as far south as Pontop Pike NZ1452. A wooden waggonway ran from pits near Angel of the North NZ2657, following the Team Valley to Team Gut at Dunston. Prominent waggonway owners included Anne Clavering and the Liddell family of Ravensworth.

Beamish Wooden Waggonways - There were two wooden waggonways from Beamish Mary Pit. It is not known if these waggonways were working at the same time in the 1700s. Beamish wooden waggonway ran from Beamish Mary Pit NZ2053 to the Great North Road at Pelaw Grange and down to the River Wear at Chartershaugh and Fatfield NZ3053. The A693 road follows the route at High Handenhold.

Maps of Beamish Staiths at Fatfield, Coordinates 430940 East, 553680 North
Keys to the Past - DurhamMiner - Geograph NZ3053 - British History - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Wikimapia - Google Maps - Old Maps
If it is not possible to zoom in on Old-Maps try using this link to the 1:2500 map ©Landmark.

The other 1700s Beamish wooden waggonway was a branch of the Tanfield Way, running northwest from Beamish Mary Pit NZ2053 towards the Blue Bell Inn and Causey Hall. The A6076 road follows the waggonway route in square NZ2054 near the Blue Bell. The waggonway joined the main Tanfield Way to the east of Causey Arch.

Other wooden waggonways running to the Fatfield area included those owned by Dean Headworth (or Hedworth) and Thomas Allan (or Allen). William Joliffe's way ran from Waldridge Colliery NZ2550.

www.pre-construct.com - Pre-Construct Archaeology Limited have done an archaeological survey of wooden waggonways at Harraton Colliery near Washington, June 2009.

Chopwell Waggonway - A wooden waggonway ran from pits in the Chopwell area NZ1158 via Greenside NZ1462 to staiths at Stella NZ1763 on the River Tyne.

Garesfield Waggonway began as a wooden waggonway from Garesfield Colliery NZ1359, following the River Derwent to Derwent Haugh NZ2063. The steep incline at High Thornley NZ1660 was later bypassed on a line to Winlaton Mill NZ1860. Some estimate that the route near Derwent Haugh was in use for 200 years.

The Tanfield Railway began as a wooden waggonway over Causey Arch NZ2055 to the Tyne at Dunston or Redheugh.
Geograph NZ2055 with photos of Causey Arch.
Causey Arch from the Don Wilcock Collection on the Tomorrows History website.

Washington Wooden Waggonways - Lord Ravensworth's waggonway ran from Washington Colliery NZ3056 to Bill Quay NZ2962 on the River Tyne. The route took it along what was later known as Lingey Lane NZ2960 which was crossed by the 1826 line from Springwell Colliery to Jarrow. It is not known if the wooden waggonway survived after this. In the early 20th century the New Road was built from Usworth to Wardley using the route of the wooden waggonway.
Another waggonway ran from Washington Colliery to Washington Staiths NZ3255 on the River Wear. This waggonway later got iron rails. It survived to be part of the National Coal Board. Oxclose Waggonway ran from Oxclose Colliery to Washington Staiths.

Lambton Wooden Waggonway to Penshaw - The Lambton Railway began as a horse-drawn wooden waggonway from Lambton Pits to Low Lambton Staiths NZ3254 at Penshaw.
From the Industrial Archaeology Review, Abstracts of Volume XX 1998:-
"The timber waggonway tracks at the site of the former Lambton Colliery or Bournmoor D Pit at Fencehouses, near Sunderland are the best preserved and most substantial early wooden railway remains yet to be uncovered in this country".
The eighteenth century waggonway was discovered in 1996 during land reclamation at the former Lambton Coke Works. Coal would have been taken by horse-drawn waggons to the River Wear.

Railway Magazine No.1235 Vol 150, March 2004 - There is an article and photographs of this wooden waggonway by Dr.Michael Lewis and Ian Ayris. The gauge of the track is 4 feet 2 inches (1270 mm). The points or switches have modern style check rails and two point blades. Earlier track junctions are thought to have had only one long point blade to keep the way clear for the horse as it walked between the rails.

Bournmoor, wagonway, from the Don Wilcock Collection on the Tomorrows History website.

SINE Project - a detailed description and photographs of the wooden waggonway discovery at Bournmoor.

The Londonderry Railway began as a wooden waggonway from the Londonderry pits to Penshaw (or Painshaw) Staiths.

The last wooden waggonways were still in use in the 1820s, long after cast iron rails had been introduced. Iron rails had a lower rolling resistance, allowing a horse to haul a train of waggons.


Iron Railways

Beamish Waggonway ran from Beamish Mary Pit NZ2053 to the Great North Road. The 1890s Ordnance Survey map shows the waggonway making an S-bend to join the Stanhope and Tyne route at Beamish Junction. Beamish Waggonway survived until the 1960s as part of the National Coal Board.
Keys to the Past maps of Pelaw Grange.

Lambton Railway - Newbottle Colliery NZ3351 was a group of pits owned by John Neasham (or Nesham). In about 1812 a rope-hauled waggonway was built from Dorothea Pit via West Herrington and Grindon Hill NZ3654 to Sunderland. This was called the Newbottle or Philadelphia waggonway. In 1819 Newbottle Colliery was purchased by John Lambton.
A new Lambton Railway was built via Hasting Hill to Sunderland. The route was from Dorothea Pit to Herrington Engine, Fox Cover Engine and Grindon Engine, joining the Philadelphia route near Grindon Hall.
Arch Engine NZ3755 is now covered by the A183 Broadway which replaced the old wandering Chester Road, now Melbourne Place.
Glebe Engine NZ3856 is now covered by the Hospital on Chester Road.
In 1865 the Lambton Railway got running rights over the NER main line from Cox Green to Sunderland, so the waggonway over Hasting Hill was no longer needed. Little trace of it remains on the 1890s Ordnance Survey map.
Rope haulage and locomotives were used on branches from pits at Sherburn House NZ3241, Littletown NZ3343, Houghton-le-Spring NZ3350, Frankland NZ2945 and Lumley NZ2948. Locomotives were overhauled at Philadelphia Lambton Engine Works NZ3352.
Pits at Cater House NZ2645 and Framwellgate Moor sent their coal to the Frankland Branch of the Lambton Railway.
After amalgamations in 1911 and 1924 the Lambton Railway became the Lambton, Hetton and Joicey Railway. It was nationalised in 1947 and closed in 1967.

The Londonderry Railway - Inclined planes reached from Alexandrina Pit NZ3346, Adventure Pit NZ3147 and Pittington NZ3344 to Penshaw (or Painshaw) Staiths.
The Londonderry Railway by George Hardy. Published by Goose & Son 1973, ISBN 0900404159 - Introduced by Charles E Lee, with an account presented in 1902 to the Society of Antiquaries by William Weaver Tomlinson entitled "The Duke of Wellington on a North Country waggonway". This journey took place in 1827 on the rope-hauled Londonderry Railway from Pittington Hallgarth via Benridge Bank Top and the Plain Pit to Colliery Row (then called Vienna). Near there he examined a locomotive engine or steam elephant. The journey continued via Dubmires to the engine house at Penshaw. A special carriage was used.

Chopwell Waggonway - In the 1890s a new waggonway ran from Chopwell Colliery NZ1158 to the Garesfield Waggonway NZ1359 at High Spen. There was a narrow gauge tramway from Whittonstall Drift Mine NZ0857 to Chopwell Colliery.
The Durham Mining Museum has a map showing the Consett Iron Company railway network in the 1930s.

Greenside Colliery Waggonway ran from Greenside Colliery NZ1361 to Stargate Pit NZ1663 and Addison Colliery NZ1664 on the Newcastle and Carlisle line. Part of the route was previously a wooden waggonway near Stephens Hall NZ1562.

Towneley Main Waggonway ran from Emma Pit NZ1463 to Stargate Pit and Stella. Part of the route was previously a wooden waggonway and is now used by the modern A695 road at Stargate.

The Tanfield Railway - In 1839 the Brandling Junction Railway laid iron rails on the route of the wooden waggonway from Redheugh NZ2462 to Sunnyside and Marley Hill NZ2057. It bypassed Causey Arch by going along the eastern bank of Causey Burn before crossing to East Tanfield Colliery and Tanfield Lea Colliery. The line was extended up a steep incline to Tanfield Moor Colliery NZ1654, taking away revenue from the Stanhope and Tyne Railway branch to Annfield Plain. In 1843 the BJR relaid track on this S&TR route.
The Tanfield Railway became part of the NER and LNER, which was nationalised as British Railways in 1948. At Gibraltar NZ2057 it made a level crossing with the Bowes Railway which became part of the National Coal Board in 1947.
www.tanfield-railway.co.uk - The Tanfield Railway - steam trains run between Sunniside and East Tanfield.
www.sunnisidelocalhistorysociety.co.uk/wagonways.html - Sunniside Local History Society have a page about the Tanfield Railway

Ouston and Pelaw Waggonway - also known as the Pelaw Main Railway, this waggonway is thought to have started in 1809 or 1810. Rope haulage was used from the pits at Urpeth, passing the Three Tuns on the Great North Road in Birtley. The 1862 Ordnance Survey map shows an Old Engine near the Lamb Pit above Birtley. An 1812 map show the coal going down from there via Oxclose to the River Wear at Washington. By 1815 a new route from Urpeth NZ2554 and Ouston passed the William IV in Birtley. Hauling engines were at Blackfell and Eighton Banks. It is thought that rope haulage was used on the level section to White Hill NZ2760.
A branch from pits in the Team Valley joined at White Hill. There was a hauling engine at Team Colliery where the waggonway passed under the A167 New Durham Road NZ2658. Another hauling engine was near the Seven Stars NZ2759 in Wrekenton where Gateshead Electric Tramways crossed the waggonway until 1951. Locomotives were later used to haul coal up the steep inclines from Team Valley. The locomotive shed was at Team Colliery, on the opposite side of the A167 New Durham Road to where the Angel of the North now stands.
From White Hill a self-acting incline ran down to Heworth. The waggonway then crossed Sunderland Road on the way to Pelaw Main Staiths NZ3063. Level crossing gates caused traffic congestion on this once main road, now the B1426. The A184 Felling bypass was built in 1959 with a bridge over the waggonway. The self-acting incline closed soon after. Coal from the Team Valley then reversed at White Hill and went on a curve to the Bowes Railway NZ2858. This curve is still used for passenger trains by the Bowes Railway Museum. The lines were nationalised in 1947 and became part of the National Coal Board.

Hetton Colliery Railway opened in 1822 from Hetton Colliery NZ3647 via Byer Engine, Flat Engine, Warden Law Engine NZ3650 and North Moor Engine to Hetton Drops NZ3957 on the River Wear at Sunderland. It used rope haulage, self-acting inclines and Stephenson locomotives. Coal also came from Eppleton Colliery and Elemore Colliery. In later years a branch was made to Silksworth Colliery. The Hetton Railway was taken over by the Lambton Railway in 1911 and closed in 1959.

The Stockton and Darlington Railway had a grand opening in 1825 with George Stephenson on Locomotion No 1 at the head of a long train.
The route was rope-hauled from Witton Park to Etherley Inclines, West Auckland (then called St.Helen's Auckland), Gaunless Bridge, Brusselton Inclines and Shildon. Locomotives operated from Shildon to Heighington, Darlington North Road, Fighting Cocks, Goosepool and Stockton. Fighting Cocks and Goosepool were watering places on the old road from Darlington to Stockton. There was a branch from Hopetown Junction to a coal depot in Darlington. Another branch ran to Egglescliffe, opposite Yarm on the Tees. In 1853 between Eaglescliffe and Bowesfield the tracks were moved next to the Leeds Northern Railway.

Brusselton incline, stone sleepers from the Don Wilcock Collection on the Tomorrows History website.

1827 Shildon to Black Boy Colliery on the Black Boy Branch.
1829 Albert Hill Junction to Croft Depot via Darlington Bank Top.
1830 Haggerleases Branch. West Auckland to Butterknowle. The branch crossed the River Gaunless on a stone Skew Bridge NZ1125, sometimes called a Swin Bridge or Swing Bridge.
1830 Bowesfield Junction to Middlesbrough. This crossed the River Tees on a suspension bridge NZ4417 which was limited to horse-drawn coal waggons.
1842 Bishop Auckland and Weardale Railway. Shildon Tunnel to Crook via South Church, Bishop Auckland, Etherley, Howden-le-Wear and Beechburn. A station at Witton Park only appears on the first edition Ordnance Survey map.
1845 Weardale Extension Railway. Crook to Waskerley via Tow Law, High Stoop and Saltersgate. Rope-hauled passenger services operated on Sunnyside Incline. High Stoop Station NZ1040 is shown as High Souk on the first edition Ordnance Survey map.
1846 Middlesbrough and Redcar Railway.
1847 Wear Valley Railway. Wear Valley Junction NZ1631 to Wolsingham, Frosterley and Bishopley Quarry. There was a station at Wear Valley Junction which is not shown on Ordnance Survey maps.
1853 Middlesbrough and Guisborough Railway.
1856 Shildon Tunnel to West Auckland, avoiding Brusselton Inclines.
1856 Darlington and Barnard Castle Railway, operated by the S&DR. From Hopetown Junction in Darlington via Piercebridge, Gainford, Winston and Broomielaw to Barnard Castle. The railway crossed the River Tees twice within a few hundred metres at Gainford Bridge and West Tees Bridge NZ1517. There was a branch to Westholme Colliery NZ1317. Broomielaw Station was built for the Bowes-Lyon family of Streatlam Castle. This station was private until 1942. There were military camps nearby at Stainton Camp, Streatlam Camp, Barford Camp, Humbleton Camp and Westwick Camp.

1858 Hownsgill Viaduct was built to bypass the steep rope-hauled inclines in Howns Gill.
1858 Crook to Waterhouses via Stanley Inclines.
1859 Burnhill Junction NZ0644 to Whitehall Junction NZ0747, bypassing Nanny Mayors Incline on the Stanhope and Carrhouse Branch.
1861 Redcar and Saltburn Railway. The line terminated inside the Zetland Hotel at Saltburn-by-the-Sea. The town was built by the S&DR as a holiday resort. Original S&DR stone block sleepers are used as paving on the promenade.

1861 South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway, operated by the S&DR. It was built to take coke to the West Coast blast furnaces and iron ore back to Cleveland. From a junction with the Darlington and Barnard Castle Railway, this required a new station at Barnard Castle. The original station became a goods depot. The line ran via the Tees Viaduct, Lartington Station, Deepdale Viaduct, Bowes Station and on to Stainmore Summit, Belah Viaduct and Kirkby Stephen.
www.evr.org.uk - Eden Valley Railway at Appleby and Warcop.
www.kirkbystepheneast.co.uk - Stainmore Railway Company Ltd (SRC) at Kirkby Stephen East (KSE).
1862 Frosterley to Stanhope, Newlandside Quarry and Parson Byers Quarry.
1863 Bishop Auckland to Fieldon Junction on the 1856 line to West Auckland.
1863 South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway, operated by the S&DR. From Spring Gardens Junction on the 1830 Haggerleases Branch to Barnard Castle. The S&DR then had a route from Shildon and Bishop Auckland to the iron works on the West Coast of England.
1863 The S&DR joins the NER but is effectively independent for years after.
1867 Crook to Tow Law on a deviation around Sunnyside Incline.
1895 Wear Valley Extension Railway. Stanhope to Wearhead was opened by the NER.


The Bowes Railway was also known as the Pontop and Jarrow Railway. When complete in 1855 it ran from Dipton to Jarrow.
1826 - the first section opened from Jarrow NZ3265 to Springwell Colliery NZ2858. There was a self-acting incline from Springwell Colliery down to Lingey Lane NZ2960. This incline was still working in the 1960s. Locomotives were used from Lingey Lane to Jarrow. The original line near Jarrow was abandoned when new staiths were built at Hebburn.
Blackham's Hill NZ2858, or Blackim Hill stationary steam engine worked inclines down to both Springwell Colliery and Mount Moor NZ2857.
1842 - with a hauling engine at Mount Moor, the line was extended down the east side of Team Valley and then up the west side to Kibblesworth Colliery NZ2456. This is now a cycle route under the ECML.
1845 - using a former wooden waggonway route, coal from Burnopfield Hobson Pit NZ1756 ran to Marley Hill NZ2057 and then down the Tanfield Railway to Redheugh.
1854 - the line from Marley Hill to Kibblesworth was opened. A level crossing was made with the Tanfield Railway at Gibraltar Crossing.
1855 - the final section opened from Burnopfield via Pickering Nook NZ1755 to Dipton Delight Colliery NZ1553.
1947 - the line became part of the National Coal Board.
www.bowesrailway.co.uk - Bowes Railway Museum is at Springwell Colliery.

Springwell Colliery - The aerial photo shows the pit for the return wheel at the top of the self-acting incline on the Bowes Railway. Loaded waggon sets descending the incline hauled empty waggons up to Springwell. Only three rails were needed, with the centre rail used by both up and down trains. At the halfway point the centre rail divided so that trains could pass each other. A brakesman controlled the speed of the return wheel from the signal box. With a mile of steel rope running on cast-iron rollers, the noise could be heard from a distance.
At night a burning coal brazier was the "headlight" when the train crossed Leam Lane.

Microsoft Virtual Earth - Birds Eye View of Springwell Colliery


Bowes Line on YouTube
www.amber-online.com - order a DVD of the Bowes Line from Amber Online.

The Rainton and Seaham Railway opened in 1831 to take coal from the Londonderry pits to the new Seaham Harbour, which was built out from the Durham coast. This railway used rope haulage via Rainton Bridge NZ3448, Rainton Engine and Copt Hill NZ3549, where it burrowed under the Hetton Railway. The R&SR then climbed to Warden Law NZ3649 and descended to Seaton Bank Top NZ3949 on the Long Run. There were further inclined planes at Seaton Bank, Londonderry Bank, Carrhouse Plane and Seaham Bank to Seaham Harbour NZ4349. The line closed in 1896.
RAF aerial photo 1944 - Seaton Bank Top, with the Rainton and Seaham Railway crossing the Durham and Sunderland Railway.

South Hetton Railway opened in 1833 and was also known as Braddyll's Railway. It used rope haulage from South Hetton Colliery NZ3845 up to Cold Hesleden Engine NZ4147 and then down to Seaham Harbour NZ4349. There were branches to Haswell Colliery (1835) NZ3742 and Murton Colliery. In the 1960s coal from Eppleton, Elemore and Murton was sent underground to the new Hawthorn Combined Mine NZ3945 on the South Hetton Railway.
RAF aerial photo 1944 - South Hetton Colliery.

The Clarence Railway opened in 1833 from Port Clarence NZ5021 to Simpasture Junction NZ2624 on the Stockton and Darlington Railway.
A branch ran from Norton NZ4222 to Stockton on Tees NZ4519.
In 1834 a branch opened from Stillington Junction NZ3524 to Sedgefield NZ3328, Ferryhill NZ3031 and Coxhoe NZ3136, with plans to extend the line to Sherburn.
In 1837 a branch opened to Spennymoor NZ2533 and Byers Green NZ2233.
In 1844 the Clarence Railway was leased to the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway, eventually becoming part of the NER in 1865.
In 1915 the NER electrified the line from Shildon NZ2325 via Simpasture and Stillington to Newport Yard NZ4618 on Teesside. The electric locomotives drew power from overhead wires to haul trains of coal waggons. The line reverted to steam locomotives in the 1930s.
During WWII, 1939 to 1945, a Royal Ordnance Factory was built near Aycliffe and two stations were opened on branches from the old Clarence Railway. They were Simpasture Station NZ2724 and Demons Bridge Station NZ2823. This industrial area was the beginning of Newton Aycliffe.
The Aycliffe Angels website describes the factory, with a map showing the new stations.
RAF aerial photo 1944 - Demons Bridge Station.

The Stanhope and Tyne Railway opened in 1834 from Stanhope to Waskerley, Rowley, Consett, Stanley, Vigo, Washington, Boldon and South Shields. After financial problems, the S&TR east of Carrhouse became the Pontop and South Shields Railway. The western part from Stanhope to Consett became the Stanhope and Carrhouse Branch, operated by the Stockton and Darlington Railway.
Stanhope to Rowley - The western end of the Stanhope and Tyne Railway began at quarries NY9940 near Stanhope. Waggons were hauled up the steep inclines by Crawley Engine and Weatherhill Engine NY9942. Passengers also used this rope-hauled railway in its early years. Rope haulage was used to Parkhead Wheel NZ0044, Meetingslack Engine NZ0345 and Waskerley NZ0545.
From Waskerley the line ran down via Nanny Mayor's Incline to Rowley NZ0847.
Rowley to Carrhouse - Steep inclined planes were needed to descend into Howns Gill NZ0949. Hownsgill Viaduct was built by the S&DR in 1858 to bypass the steep inclines. The line continued to Carrhouse Engine NZ1150.
Carrhouse to Annfield - At the eastern end of Carrhouse Incline was a branch to Derwent Colliery NZ1254. Horses were used on the level section to the western foot of Annfield Incline.
Annfield to Stanley - At the top of the hill Annfield Engine NZ1551 worked both inclines to the east and west. There was a branch to Tanfield Moor Colliery NZ1654 from the foot of the eastern incline. The line continued via Oxhill to West Stanley Colliery and Stanley Engine NZ2052. There was a terrible explosion at West Stanley Colliery in 1909.
Stanley to Pelaw Grange - From Stanley Engine NZ2052 was a series of inclined planes passing Twizell Colliery (Twizel, Twizle), Edenhill and West Pelton down to Pelton Fell NZ2551 and Stella. The line crossed the Great North Road at Pelaw Grange NZ2753.
Pelaw Grange to Washington - Vigo Engine NZ2854 worked inclines from Pelaw Grange to Fatfield where locomotives took over the route to Washington NZ3155. At Biddick Burn NZ3054 the first edition Ordnance Survey Map shows Fatfield Gears. Gears were wooden constructions to carry early waggonways over waterways and hollows.
Washington to South Shields - From Washington the line continued via Washington Lane, to the Boldon Turnpike and coal drops at South Shields. South Shields Metro Station is on the 1834 S&TR route.
In the early years passenger services were operated from Pelton and the Durham Turnpike via Vigo Engine to Washington, Boldon and South Shields.

Hartlepool Dock and Railway Company opened in 1835 from Hartlepool NZ5233 to Hart NZ4836, Hesleden NZ4437, Castle Eden NZ4237, Thornley NZ3939 and Haswell NZ3743. There were branches to Ludworth Colliery, Thornley Colliery, Shotton Colliery and Wheatley Hill Colliery. At Haswell the HD&R crossed the D&SR at a higher level. In 1877 the NER opened a curve joining the two. The planned link with the Durham Junction Railway at Moorsley NZ3346 was never completed, although shown on some old maps. The rope-hauled incline at Hesleden was bypassed in 1874, so that locomotives could climb without assistance.

Durham and Sunderland Railway opened in 1836 from Sunderland Town Moor NZ4057 to Ryhope NZ4152, Seaton Bank Top NZ3949, Murton NZ3847, Haswell NZ3743 and Pittington NZ3245. It reached Sherburn House NZ3041 in 1837 and Shincliffe NZ2840 in 1839.
Rope hauled passenger trains lasted for over 20 years before locomotives were used. At Murton Junction there were stationary hauling engines for the lines to Haswell and Hetton. A mineral railway ran from Shincliffe to Croxdale Pit NZ2639. In 1893 the NER opened the branch from Sherburn House Station to Durham Elvet Station NZ2842.
RAF aerial photo 1944 - Murton Junction.

Chilton Branch Waggonway opened in 1836 from the Clarence Railway NZ3230 to Chilton Colliery NZ2730 and Leasingthorne Colliery NZ2530. The waggonway crossed the Great North Road where Chilton Branch Library now stands.

Durham Junction Railway opened in 1838 from a junction with the Stanhope and Tyne Railway at Washington NZ3155, via the Victoria Bridge, Penshaw and Fencehouses to Rainton Meadows NZ3247. It is also known as the Leamside Line. The planned link with the Hartlepool Dock and Railway Company line at Haswell NZ3743 was never completed, although shown on some old maps. The DJR built Victoria Bridge NZ3254 across the River Wear. The main arch has a span of 160 feet (about 48 metres) and is the largest masonry railway arch in England. It is also known as Victoria Viaduct. There is a larger span railway bridge in Scotland.
The bridge is a Listed Building No. 456/4/17.
Trains from London began crossing Victoria Bridge in 1844. They had to go via Brockley Whins to continue on to Gateshead along the former Brandling Junction Railway. The journey from London to Gateshead took over 12 hours. The track is still in place but has not been used for years. There are plans to reopen the line for freight to reduce congestion on the ECML through Durham.
In 2003 some miles of steel rail were stolen near Penshaw. Newspaper archives, 21 May 2003:-
The Sunderland Echo - Conman gets two years for rail theft
The Northern Echo - Jailed - man who lifted railway line
Newcastle Chronicle and Journal - The great rail robbery

Aerial views from Wikimapia - Victoria Viaduct - Stolen track - Rainton Crossing

"Birds Eye View" from Microsoft - Stolen track - this later view shows most of the sleepers have now been lifted near Penshaw.


Great North of England, Clarence and Hartlepool Junction Railway opened in 1839 from the Clarence Railway NZ3033 via West Cornforth, Coxhoe Bridge, Kelloe Bank Head, Trimdon Grange and Wingate NZ4036, joining the Hartlepool Dock and Railway Company NZ4137.
The western part was recently used as a mineral railway for Raisby Quarry NZ3435 and Thrislington Cement Works NZ3032.

Burnhope Waggonway ran from the Stanhope and Tyne Railway at Grange Villa NZ2352 to Holmside Colliery William Pit NZ2150 (opened 1839) and Burnhope Colliery NZ1948 (opened 1850). William Hedley moved his old locomotive Wylam Dilly from Wylam for use at Holmside Colliery.

Sacriston Colliery Waggonway opened in 1839 from the Stanhope and Tyne Railway at Pelton Fell NZ2551 via Waldridge, Sacriston Engine and Daisy Hill to Sacriston Colliery NZ2347. Part of the route from Pelton Fell to Waldridge used the course of a wooden waggonway. There were branches to Witton Colliery, Charlaw Colliery, Nettlesworth Colliery and West Edmondsley Colliery.

The Brandling Junction Railway opened in 1839 from Gateshead NZ2563 (425600_563600) to Brockley Whins NZ3462, with branches to Monkwearmouth and South Shields.
British History 1:2500 scale 1884 map and Microsoft Virtual Earth showing the site of the BJR Gateshead terminus. High on the south bank of the River Tyne, this became the site of Rooneys Scrap Merchants Ltd.
An inclined plane ran down from Gateshead to Redheugh to join the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway. The archway for the incline is still visible in the 1906 King Edward VII railway bridge.
British History 1:2500 scale 1895 map of the old BJR station near Felling Metro Station NZ2762.
The BJR crossed the Stanhope and Tyne Railway at Pontop Crossing NZ3562. In Monkwearmouth the terminus was at Broad Street NZ3958 (439850_558100) which is now Roker Avenue. A branch from Fulwell ran down to North Dock NZ4058 on the River Wear.
The South Shields branch followed the Stanhope and Tyne Railway before turning towards the River Tyne for the Brandling Drops (435700_566700). A station was later built closer to South Shields market place.
The BJR was purchased by the Newcastle and Darlington Junction Railway in 1845. Much of the route from Gateshead to Monkwearmouth is used by the Tyne and Wear Metro.

West Durham Railway opened in 1840, joining the Clarence Railway at Byers Green NZ2233. It ran to Todd Hill and then down an incline to the River Wear. It then climbed Sunnybrow Incline NZ1934 to Helmington, reaching Old White Lea Colliery NZ1537 in 1841. In 1867 the deviation line around Sunnyside Incline joined the West Durham Railway at West Durham Junction NZ1537. In 1885 the NER line from Bishop Auckland joined the Clarence Railway route at Burnhouse Junction NZ2333.

Westerton Railway - Also known as the Binchester Colliery Railway, this ran from the Clarence Railway NZ2633 to Westerton Colliery and Binchester Colliery NZ2331. There was a branch to Dean and Chapter Colliery NZ2833.

The Stockton and Hartlepool Railway opened in 1841 from the Clarence Railway at Billingham Junction NZ4623 to Greatham, Seaton Carew and West Hartlepool. It used the Norton branch of the Clarence Railway to reach Norton Road Station in Stockton NZ4419.

The Newcastle and Darlington Junction Railway opened in 1844 from a junction with the DJR at Rainton Crossing NZ3248. There were stations at Leamside, Belmont, Sherburn, Shincliffe, Ferryhill, Bradbury and Aycliffe. It crossed the Stockton and Darlington Railway at the famous S&D crossing in Darlington, finally joining the GNER at Parkgate Junction NZ2915 on the old Croft Branch.
Belmont Station NZ3044 was the junction for the Durham Gilesgate branch, which is now the route of the A690 road. Gilesgate Station NZ2842 became a goods shed when Durham North Road Station opened in 1857. The goods shed was used by Archibald's builders merchants until it was demolished in recent years.
The N&DJR took over the D&SR, BJR, DJR, GNER and P&SSR. The N&DJR became part of the YN&BR in 1847.

Rookhope Railway opened in 1846 and ran from Rookhope NY9342 to Park Head Depot NZ0043, where it joined the Stanhope and Tyne Railway. The Rookhope Railway was built by the Weardale Iron Company. At 515 metres, Boltslaw Engine NY9444 was the highest point on a standard gauge line in Britain.

Rookhope and Middlehope Railway ran from Rookhope NY9342 to Middlehope Lead Mine NY9040 on Middlehope Burn, high in the Wear Valley. Cambokeels Incline NY9338 was built by German prisoners of war during WWI, 1914 to 1918, down to the NER line between Eastgate and Westgate.

Groove Rake (Groverake) - This mineral railway ran from Groove Rake Lead Mine NY8944 to Rookhope NY9342. Rookhope Smelting Mill had a chimney flue about 2500 metres long running up the hillside, ending at Rookhope Chimney NY9044. Fluorspar or Fluorite is still found in this area.

York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway - 1849 Pelaw Junction to Usworth Station and Washington Station. This cut-off avoided the longer route via Brockley Whins.
Aerial views from Wikimapia - Pelaw Junction - Pontop Crossing, Brockley Whins


The Leeds Northern Railway opened in 1852. After crossing the River Tees on a long viaduct at Yarm NZ4113 it ran from Eaglescliffe to Stockton, joining the Clarence Railway at North Shore Junction NZ4420.

York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway opened in 1852 from Penshaw Junction, Cox Green, South Hylton and Pallion to Sunderland. The route from South Hylton to Sunderland is used by the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The Londonderry, Seaham and Sunderland Railway opened in 1854 from Seaham Station NZ4249 via Ryhope NZ4152 to Hendon NZ4041, to make use of the bigger Sunderland docks. There was a private station at Hall Dene NZ4150 for the use of the occupants of Seaham Hall. Stations and track separate from the D&SR were required from Ryhope to Hendon.
The line was taken over by the NER in 1900. A new Seaham Station was built when the 1905 NER line via Dawdon opened. Ryhope Grange Junction to Seaham is still open to passengers on the Sunderland and Hartlepool route.

The Forcett Railway - This private railway opened in 1866. It ran from East Layton Quarry, Forcett Quarry and Forcett Goods Station NZ1610, south of the River Tees. Heading northwards, it crossed the Tees near Gainford, to make a junction with the Darlington and Barnard Castle Railway at Forcett Junction NZ1816.

The Tees Valley Railway - This independent railway opened in 1868 from Middleton in Teesdale Station NY9424 via Mickleton Station NY9623, Romaldkirk Station NY9922 and Cotherstone Station NZ0119 to Tees Valley Junction NZ0317 on the South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway.

The Merrybent and Darlington Railway - This goods line opened in 1870 from the Barnard Castle and Darlington Railway at Merrybent Junction NZ2516 to Merrybent Quarry near Barton NZ2308. After financial difficulties it was acquired by the NER in 1890. The route now lies under the A1(M) motorway.

Leamside Line was the former Main Line through Ferryhill, Leamside, Fencehouses, Penshaw and Washington to Pelaw. The companies were the Durham Junction Railway and the Newcastle and Darlington Junction Railway. It was by-passed in 1872 with the opening of the ECML from Tursdale Junction NZ3035 via Croxdale, Relley Mill Junction, Durham, Newton Hall Junction and Chester-le-Street to Gateshead.

See the Durham Junction Railway for details of the stolen track near Penshaw.


Hylton, Southwick and Monkwearmouth Railway - This 1876 mineral railway was taken over by NER in 1883. It joined the Stanhope and Tyne route at Southwick Junction. The Nissan Motor Works has been built over the western end. The A1231 road follows the railway route into Monkwearmouth.

Marsden Railway opened in 1879 from South Shields NZ3666 to Whitburn Colliery NZ4063. The antique passenger trains were known as the The Marsden Rattler. This was part of the Harton Coal Company railway system.
The A183 Coast Road was built in the 1920s, running parallel to the railway. At Marsden the railway was moved inland to make room for the Coast Road NZ3964. The railway was nationalised by the National Coal Board in 1947. Public passengers as well as miners were carried until closure in 1968.
Marsden Railway - an excellent webpage of history, locos, carriages and tickets.
www.mining-memorabilia.co.uk/The_Harton_Coal_Company_And_Marsden_Railway.htm

Woodland Branch Railway ran from Woodland Junction NZ1225 to Crake Scar Colliery NZ0727 and Woodland Colliery NZ0626. Tramways ran from Woodland Colliery to Woolly Hills Drifts NZ0424 and Arn Gill Drifts NZ0524.
www.woodlandvillage.co.uk by Tim Robinson. Includes history and photographs of the Woodland Branch Railway

Fishburn Colliery Railway ran from the Clarence Railway NZ3229 to Fishburn Colliery (opened 1910) NZ3631. The line passed under the A177 road, 500 metres south of Merry Knowle NZ3431. Brick parapets of the bridge are still visible.

North Eastern Railway in County Durham
1854 The main railway companies from York to Newcastle and Berwick upon Tweed are combined as the North Eastern Railway, excluding the Stockton and Darlington Railway.
1856 Leamside (Auckland Junction) to Durham North Road and Bishop Auckland. This route is still in use as the ECML between Newton Hall and Relley Mill.
1856 Page Bank Colliery to the Clarence Railway at Spennymoor.
1858 Deerness Valley Junction (or Dearness) to Waterhouses Station at Esh Winning.
1862 Relley Mill Junction to Lanchester and Consett.
1862 The NER laid its first steel rails on the High Level Bridge between Gateshead and Newcastle.
1867 Blaydon Junction to Swalwell, Ebchester and Blackhill. There were numerous viaducts on this route which is still open as the Derwent Walk footpath.
1868 Gateshead West Station via Team Valley to Chester-le-Street and Newton Hall Junction. The ECML curve at Newton Hall was relaid to a larger radius when the line from Leamside closed in the 1960s.
1871 Relley Mill Junction via Croxdale to Hoggersgate Junction (Tursdale). This line completed the ECML of today.
1872 Pelaw to Tyne Dock via Hebburn and Jarrow. This route is used by the Tyne and Wear Metro.
1876 Hylton, Southwick and Monkwearmouth Railway. This mineral railway was taken over by NER in 1883.
1877 The NER laid its last new wrought iron rails.
1877 Cemetery Junctions at Hartlepool, joining the Stockton and Hartlepool line at West Hartlepool. The local service previously ran through the Hartlepool Docks. The present Hartlepool Station was opened by the NER in 1880.
1877 Haswell Curve, joining the Hartlepool Dock and Railway line to the Durham and Sunderland line.
1878 Wellfield Station to Thorpe Thewles and Bowesfield Junction. The Visitor Centre for the Castle Eden Walkway is at Thorpe Thewles Station.
1879 Tyne Dock to South Shields via High Shields Station. This line was abandoned when the Tyne and Wear Metro used the old Stanhope and Tyne route.
1879 Wearmouth Railway Bridge via Sunderland Central Station to Ryhope Grange Junction.
1885 Burnhouse Junction to Byers Green, Coundon and Bishop Auckland.
1886 Annfield Plain deviation to bypass the inclines on the Stanhope and Tyne route, with a new Annfield Plain Station.
1887 Polam Junction to Oak Tree Junction to avoid reversing at Darlington Bank Top Station.
1893 Durham Elvet Station to Sherburn House Station on the Durham and Sunderland line.
1893 Beamish deviation to bypass the inclines at Stanley, via West Stanley Station (Shield Row), Beamish Station and Pelton Station, rejoining the S&TR route at South Pelaw. The track was lifted in 1984 and the tunnel at Beamish is now a Sustrans cycle track.
YouTube and Fotopic - "The last train to Consett", 1984.

1893 Dunston Staiths, with a second staith opened in 1903. A line ran via Norwood to the Team Valley Branch.
1895 Stanhope Station to Eastgate, Westgate, St.John's Chapel and Wearhead Station.
1896 Consett curve NZ0949 joining the Lanchester line to the Stanhope and Tyne line. This allowed trains to run a circular service from Newcastle via Rowlands Gill, Blackhill, Consett, Pelton and Birtley to Newcastle.
1901 Billingham Branch from Haverton Hill NZ4822. This area of Billingham became ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries).
1901 Greatham Creek Branch from Port Clarence NZ5021 to Cowpen Marsh, following the High Water Mark of the 1861 map. Much land has been reclaimed from the marshes in this area of the Tees estuary.
1904 Dunston Branch from Norwood Junction to Derwent Haugh, bypassing the original Newcastle and Carlisle route along the River Tyne. Dunston Power Station was built on this land. The 1904 line carries the present-day service between Newcastle and Carlisle, with a new station at Metro Centre. Dunston Station has reopened.
1905 Seaham Station to Dawdon Colliery, Easington, Horden, Blackhall and Hart Junction Station.
1906 King Edward VII Bridge between Newcastle and Gateshead. This avoided reversing at Newcastle Central station for trains running between Edinburgh and London Kings Cross.
1907 Dunston Branch from King Edward VII Bridge. This allowed a passenger service between Newcastle and Dunston Station.
1907 Seaton Snook Branch from Seaton Snook Junction NZ5128 to the Central Zinc and Acid Works (1920s map). This area now includes the AbleUK Offshore Structure Disposal Facility (ghost ships) and Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station. On the 1861 map Seaton Snook Point was an island.
1909 Queen Alexandra Bridge between Southwick and Sunderland. The railway tracks on the upper deck were removed in the 1920s.
1920 Billingham Beck Branch from North Shore Junction NZ4420. This line crossed the land reclaimed from the Tees when Portrack Cut was made.
1923 NER becomes part of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER).


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this page updated 06 June 2010