Station Name: EASTGATE

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 21.10.1895
Location: On the east side of an unnamed minor road
Company on opening: North Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 29.6.1953
Date closed completely: 14.9.1980
Company on closing: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Present state: The station building, goods shed and platform are still extant the house having been converted into a private residence. The track is still in place and the Weardale Railway hope to extend to Eastgate in the future.
County: Durham
OS Grid Ref: NY957386
Date of visit: May 1968 & 7.10.2005

Notes: Eastgate is the present terminus of the line. The station is typical of a small branch line halt serving a modest rural community. The actual terminus is the yard at the cement works. After closure in 1993 around 40 cement tanks and 2 small diesel shunters were left at the cement works. These appear to have gone, possibly scrapped on site. The yard was a spur to the north of the Weardale line which actually continues for a short distance (about 60 yards) in thick undergrowth to a bridge over the river. There is a public footpath from the road that crosses the line just short of the spur into the yard.

The village has been dominated by the nearby Lafarge (formerly Blue Circle) cement works since its construction in 1964. The presence of the rail link was a factor in the decision to build here, and its use for transporting bulk cement was the mainstay of the line until 1993. The works were demolished in 2005

At the station there still exists the last example of a goods shed, which featured at all of the other stations on the Weardale Extension Railway. When the station yard was in operation it was necessary to work the siding by a rope tied to the locomotive because there was no run round facility. Eastgate became a public delivery siding on 14.9.1970 and goods traffic was withdrawn from 14.9.1980.

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

Eastgate Station looking east before August 1909
Copyright p
hoto from John Alsop collection

1895 1:2,500 OS map. At this time the goods comprised a single siding.

1914 1:2,500 OS map. Goods facilities have improved. The siding has been extended and now runs alongside a dock. A small good shed and crane have now been provided.

Eastgate Station in the early 1950's

A freight train at Eastgate Station looking east in March 1960.
Copyright photo by Jim Sedgwick (courtesy Weardale Valley Project)

Eastgate Station in c.1967
hoto by Roy Lambeth

Eastgate Station looking east in October 2005
hoto by Roy Lambeth

Click on thumbnail to enlarge




[Source: Nick Catford]

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