[Source: Alan Young]

Date opened: 19.6.1844

North side of road bridge over railway on Front Street (B1283)

Company on opening: Newcastle & Darlington Junction Railway
Date closed to passengers:


Date closed completely: Possibly 14.9.1959
Company on closing:

Passengers: London & North Eastern Railway
Goods: British Railways (North Eastern Region)

Present state: Demolished. Goods dock extant on the south side of Front Street
County: Durham
OS Grid Ref: NZ314425
Date of visit: April 1969 & 22.6.2011

Notes: This station opened, with the line, as ‘Sherburn’. The North Eastern Railway found itself with several stations of this name and, needing to distinguish between them, this station had ‘Colliery’ added on 1 April 1874 - the year after the nearby colliery was opened. On the same day the neighbouring station on the route from Murton to Durham Elvet became ‘Sherburn House’.

The station possessed what Hoole (1985) dismissed as a ‘nondescript building’; Fawcett (2011) describes it as the work of G T Andrews, and it has the characteristic Andrews’ bay window on the eastern elevation. It probably began life as a single-storey structure, as at the first Leamside station, but was raised by the NER to two storeys and, in Fawcett’s opinion, made to look quite unpleasant. The platforms were in a shallow cutting, and the building was at a higher level adjacent to the road bridge at the southern end of the down (Newcastle-bound) platform; the up platform facilities amounted to a timber, pent-roof waiting shed. Ramps led down from the road bridge to each platform.

The signal box and goods facilities, with a two-ton crane, were south of the road bridge and east of the through lines, approached by a short sloping track from Front Street. Sherburn Colliery (Lady Durham Pit) was north-east of the station, approached from the north by a branch off the up line. Darsley (2008) notes that whilst the colliery sidings were connected to the ‘Old Main Line’ most of the coal was carried via the Lambton Railway after 1904, but Lambton locomotives travelled to and from their works at Philadelphia, near Fencehouses, via the OML. The Hand-book of railway stations (1904) lists no fewer than eight freight facilities in the vicinity of Sherburn Colliery station, seven of which were specifically related to the coal industry.

Shortly before WWI NER statistics showed that 3,060 people were served by the station; 25,326 tickets were issued (1911) and barley and livestock were the principal goods handled (1913).

During the 1920s bus routes linking the closely spaced villages of the Durham coalfield began to offer stiff competition to railway services. In the case of Sherburn  the demand for public transport was to and from Durham, whose city centre was 2½ miles west, whilst the railway provided a north-south service to the distant centres of Newcastle, Sunderland and Darlington; moreover the station was inconveniently placed over a quarter of a mile west of the village. The colliery close to the station had a relatively short life and, having employed over 500 men early in the twentieth century, it ceased production before 1921. As indicated in the table below, in June 1920 the weekday train service offered by the North Eastern Railway was far from frequent. On Sundays a morning and evening train called in each direction.

Up trains June 1920


Down trains June 1920


8.03 am


7.51 am


11.20 am


8.45 am


2.29 pm


10.40 am


5.59 pm


2.54 pm


9.00 pm


7.29 pm




9.22 pm Sat Only


The winter 1937-8 service had decreased to four up and five down weekday trains, with only one morning southbound departure on Sundays. Although the LNER intended to close Sherburn Colliery and neighbouring Shincliffe stations in 1939 passenger services continued until 1941. Excursions called at Sherburn Colliery station in later years, and BR(NE) records for 1951 show that 256 tickets were issued there for a school trip. In 1961 the OS plan showed the former station building as extant, named ‘Station House’, and the platforms were in place but without the building on the up side. The goods sidings were still in place, but probably out of use. The plan published ten years later indicated that the station house had been demolished. It is ironic that by the 1960s Sherburn’s population had increased substantially and a housing estate extended to the site of the former station.

The ‘Old Main Line’ was the name frequently given to the railway between Ferryhill and Pelaw in County Durham which, from 1850 until 1872 formed part of the ‘East Coast’ route from London (Kings Cross) to Newcastle. Prior to 1850 trains ran via Brockley Whins, prior to the opening of the Washington – Pelaw line, and until 1848 terminated at Gateshead rather than Newcastle. From 1872 the present East Coast main line route was used, with diversions in 1906 when the opening of King Edward Bridge removed the need to travel via Gateshead (West) and at Newton Hall Junction, north of Durham, where the curvature of the tracks was reduced in the late 1960s. The evolution of the ‘Old Main Line’ was far from straightforward.

By the beginning of the nineteenth century waggonways were already in existence to move coal from the mines in south-east Northumberland and north-eastern County Durham to tidal water for export. It stands to reason that passengers will have been carried unofficially on such lines, but the first recorded passenger transport by rail in north-east Durham was in 1834 on the Pontop & South Shields route. Originally opened as the Stanhope & Tyne Railroad, it was not established by parliamentary Act but was built on the ‘wayleave’ system under a Deed of Settlement dated 3 February 1834, perhaps to conceal the ambitious nature of the scheme, which was 33¾ miles in length. Under this arrangement the company was to pay a toll, based on the amount of traffic carried, to each landowner through whose property the railway passed.

The south-western end of the line was in Weardale, on the moors just south of Stanhope. Here limestone was quarried, and there were deposits of coal available at intervals between Consett and South Shields. In July 1832 building of the line began, and progress was rapid. Although much of the terrain it crossed was moorland at high altitude, few earthworks were constructed or excavated, and some steep slopes on the south-western section of the route were negotiated with inclines; indeed more than half was worked by inclined planes, either self-acting or with a winding engine, and a few near-level stretches were worked by horses. Locomotives were used only at the eastern end. Much of the line remained unfenced until it closed in the 1960s. The route from Stanhope lime-kilns to Annfield was opened on 15 May 1834, and the eastern section onward to South Shields on 10 September 1834. The engineer T E Harrison surveyed the route; he was to become one of the most influential personnel of the NER.

The carriage of minerals was the priority of the Stanhope & Tyne, and no attempt was made to serve centres of population which would generate passenger traffic. Nevertheless there were requests for passengers to be conveyed so they were permitted to ride free-of-charge on top of the coal wagons. Soon a wagon was attached specifically for passenger use, and shortly afterwards a separate locomotive-hauled passenger coach was provided fortnightly on pay days. Finally, on 16 April 1835, a full passenger service was instated between Durham Turnpike (one mile north of Chester-le-Street) and South Shields, possibly calling from the start at Vigo and Washington. At South Shields a nearby inn sold tickets, and passengers boarded the train in sidings. Part of this route, from Washington to Brockley Whins, was to become a section of the original ‘Old Main Line’. The isolated stretch of passenger railway between Durham Turnpike and South Shields was joined by the Brandling Junction Railway from Gateshead to Brockley Whins, three miles south-west of South Shields, opening to minerals on 30 August 1838 and passengers on 5 September 1839; and the Durham Junction Railway, stretching north from an obscure terminus at Rainton Meadow (with horse-bus connection to Durham) to Washington opened for mineral traffic on 24 August 1838 and passengers on 9 March 1840.

Unfortunately the cost of running the Stanhope & Tyne proved unsustainable. In the moorlands wayleaves cost about £25 per mile per year, but at the eastern end the figures were £300 or more. The outgoings on wayleaves alone amounted to £5,600. Plans for a dock (where Tyne Dock was later opened) were abandoned. Traffic did not develop to the expected levels and the wayleaves proved to be financially crippling. By the close of 1840 the railway company was £440,000 in debt, and it was wound up on 5 February 1841. The following year the Pontop & South Shields Railway obtained an Act to take over the northern end of its track which had hosted the passenger service. The Derwent Iron Company took control of the section south-west of Carr House to bring limestone from Stanhope to its furnaces at Consett. This section later passed into the hands of the S&D.

The Brandling Junction Railway (BJ) originated as a private venture by brothers R W and J Brandling to connect Gateshead, South Shields and Monkwearmouth. The brothers obtained an Act to buy or purchase leases for the land over which their lines would pass, but they chose to proceed by the wayleave system. A company came into being on 7 September 1835 to acquire the assets of the Brandling Railway, and as the Brandling Junction Railway Company it was incorporated by Act of Parliament on 7 June 1836. The Stanhope & Tyne also sponsored a Gateshead, South Shields & Monkwearmouth Railway, but discussions with the BJR resulted in the abandonment of the plan. The BJR opened in three sections. The first was from the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway’s Redheugh in Gateshead, adjacent to the River Tyne, which ascended at 1:23 through Greenes Field to Oakwellgate; this was operated by a stationary engine. A self-acting incline from Gateshead Quayside was opened with it on the same day, 15 January 1839. The route from South Shields to Monkwearmouth opened on 19 June 1839, followed by the connecting lines between Gateshead and Cleadon Lane (later East Boldon) and between Brockley Whins and Green Lane (north-east of Brockley Whins) on 5 September 1839. A chord known as the Newton Garths branch opened on 9 September 1839 between East Boldon and West Boldon junctions, immediately south-east of Pontop Crossing, but this was not used by passenger trains. On 9 March 1840 the west-to-north link between the BJ and S&T opened at Pontop Crossing which enabled through services between the several termini at Gateshead, South Shields, Monkwearmouth and the Durham Junction Railway’s Rainton Meadows to operate. However services from the south had, at first, to reverse from just north of Pontop Crossing to reach Brockley Whins in a complex operation (described on the Brockley Whins page).

The Durham Junction Railway (DJ) was authorised by an Act of 16 June 1834. It became an important link in the chain of railways forming the ‘Old Main Line’, the original intention was merely to redirect to the Tyne coal from the pits in the Houghton-le-Spring area, and from pits served by the Hartlepool Railway. Even these modest ambitions were not realised as its southern terminus was to be at Rainton Meadows, two miles short of Moorsley, its intended destination, and the Houghton-le-Spring branch, authorised by an Act of 1837, was never constructed. Nevertheless a ‘Station Road’ was partly constructed in Houghton – the triumph of hope over reality – which was to be one of the largest population centres in the North-East never to have the benefit of a passenger station.

The DJ’s crowning glory was the stately stone viaduct over the River Wear between Penshaw and Washington, and based upon the Roman bridge at Alcántara, Spain. The last stone was laid on the day of Queen Victoria’s coronation, 28 June 1838, thus it was named Victoria Bridge (or Viaduct). The engineer T E Harrison constructed four main arches, those at each end of 100ft span and the two central arches of 160ft and 144ft; the total length was 811ft and the height above water level was 135ft. In 1843 the DJ became part of the portfolio of the ambitious George Hudson (the ‘Railway King’) as part of his plan for an integrated east-coast route. The Act of 23 May 1844 which confirmed his purchase of the line also made provision for the project of bridging the Tyne.

At Washington the DJ connected with the Stanhope & Tyne whose metals were used as far as Brockley Whins. Here the BJ line was joined, and the passenger service between Rainton Meadows and Gateshead took this route from its inception on 9 March 1840. The S&T owned over half of the DJ shares and also worked the services. As noted above a reversal was necessary at Brockley Whins, and this inconvenience was compounded by congestion caused by the DJ and S&T/P&SS trains sharing the line between Washington and Brockley Whins. To allow more efficient operation powers were sought to construct a direct curve and to widen the line between Washington and Brockley Whins: an Act of 23 May 1844 authorised these projects. The curve was on a difficult site intersected by the River Don and was constructed on a wooden viaduct which stood until 1940. The viaduct was used by main line trains until 1 October 1850 when the more direct route between Washington and Pelaw via Usworth was opened.

For the next stage in the evolution of the ‘Old Main Line’ through County Durham it is necessary to return to the 1830s. The Great North of England Railway obtained its Act for a route from Redheugh Quay at Gateshead to Croft (south of Darlington) on 4 July 1836. After opening from York to Darlington the GNE decided, for financial reasons, not to construct the route onward to Gateshead, and on 5 October 1841 agreed to relinquish the powers to Robert Davies, James Richardson and John Hotham, who acted on behalf of the embryo Newcastle & Darlington Junction Railway. The N&DJ agreed to apply for powers to finish the line and pay all costs. The N&DJ was incorporated on 18 June 1842, and on 11 April 1843 the northern part of the GNE was transferred by Act of Parliament to the N&DJ. Work proceeded swiftly, and the line opened throughout on 15 April 1844 to mineral traffic and to passengers on 19 June. The short section between Belmont Junction (where the Durham branch left the main line) to join the Durham Junction line at Rainton Crossing was the last to be completed. There was now a direct railway link from London to the Tyne: on 18 June 1844, the day before the route opened to regular passenger traffic, a special train made history when it ran from London (Euston Square) to Gateshead in 9h 21m, including stops totalling 70 minutes. At the time of opening the N&DJ did not actually own the line beyond Washington, but had a station at Gateshead, reached via the P&SS and BJ railways: although only authorised by the Act of 23 May 1844 the station was illustrated by an engraving in a Gateshead newspaper four weeks later.

The early days of the N&DJ were difficult owing to strained relations with the GNE. For details see K Hoole’s Regional History vol 4.

The original ‘East Coast’ main line of 1844 therefore ran from Ferryhill to Gateshead via Shincliffe, Leamside, Penshaw, Washington, Brockley Whins and Pelaw. The Gateshead terminus was at Oakwellgate, which had opened on 5 September 1839. On 2 September 1844 Oakwellgate closed, and the service was diverted to the Greenesfield terminus, which had opened on 19 June 1844. This terminus, in turn, gave way to a new through station which would eventually be known as Gateshead East, when the main line was extended to Newcastle Central, crossing the River Tyne on a temporary bridge (opened 1 November 1848) then on the High Level Bridge, which opened on 30 August 1850. From 1 October 1850 the new, shorter route via Usworth was used between Washington and Pelaw, avoiding Brockley Whins. This ‘Old Main Line’ or ‘Leamside’ route was used until 15 January 1872 when through express services were diverted to the route via Durham.

The ‘Old Main Line’ continued life as an important freight route and retained its stopping passenger service between Leamside and Ferryhill into LNER days. This service - latterly amounting to four up and five down trains on weekdays and one up on a Sunday, calling at the intermediate stations of Shincliffe and Sherburn Colliery – was to have been withdrawn in 1939 but closure was deferred until June 1941. Thereafter the Leamside – Ferryhill line was used for passenger trains diverted from the main line via Durham and for freight traffic. In 1991 British Rail mothballed the line, but owing to dumping of rubbish on the lines, removal of rails at level-crossings, theft of 2½ miles of track near Penshaw in 2003, and effects of overall neglect Network Rail decided to close the line entirely and the rails were removed by April 2013. Concrete sleepers recovered from the route are understood to be destined for re-use on the Waverley Route currently under construction between Edinburgh, Galashiels and Tweedbank.

The Durham diversion was, like the development of the Leamside route, a result of evolution rather than one direct action.

Access to Gateshead from the south was via Leamside until 1872, when the present-day East Coast main line superseded it. However much earlier, in July 1846, the York & Newcastle Railway announced its intention to promote a Bill for a line following a route via the Team valley from Gateshead (and ultimately Newcastle). On 30 June 1848 the Y&N – by now the York, Newcastle & Berwick Railway – obtained an Act authorising construction. The proposed route was from Gateshead via Team Valley to Newton Hall, where a branch to Durham and Bishop Auckland continued southwards, while the main line curved eastwards for about a mile then turned south to join the main line near Belmont Junction. However in 1849 the work was postponed owing to the downfall of George Hudson.

The NER in 1862 revived the project, but the line authorised was only between Gateshead and Newton Hall on the Bishop Auckland branch north of Durham, which had opened from Leamside in 1857. The section eastwards from Newton Hall had been constructed as part of the Bishop Auckland branch, but there was no west-to-south curve near Leamside to allow through running from the north onto the old main line via Shincliffe. Consequently the new line could be used only as an alternative route to Durham and the south via Bishop Auckland; and at first there were only four stopping trains in each direction between Newcastle and Durham. The Team Valley route opened on 1 December 1868, and it became part of the ‘new’ East Coast main line on 15 January 1872 when the line between Relly Mill Junction (one mile south of Durham) and Tursdale Junction (one mile north of Ferryhill) was completed.

Sources and bibliography:

Tickets from Michael Stewart. Bradshaws from Chris Totty. Route maps drawn by Alan Young.

To see other stations on the Old Main Line click on the station name: Felling 2nd, Felling 3rd , Felling 1st, Pelaw 1st, Pelaw 3rd, Pelaw 4th , Pelaw 2nd, Usworth, Washington 2nd, Washington 1st, Penshaw 1st, Penshaw 2nd, Fencehouses, Rainton, Rainton Meadows (on branch), Leamside 1st, Leamside 2nd, Belmont Junction, Durham Gilesgate (on branch), Shincliffe & Ferryhill

See also Coxhoe (branch from Ferryhill)

See also: Springwell, Brockley Whins (1st site), Brockley Whins (2nd site)
& Boldon (route prior to 1850)

See also Sunderland and Durham (via Leamside):
Durham (still open), Frankland, Cox Green, South Hylton , Hylton, Pallion 1st, Pallion 2nd , Millfield 2nd, Millfield 1st, Millfield 3rd , Sunderland Fawcett Street (on branch) & Sunderland Central (Still open)

Station still open as part of the Tyne & Wear metro

Looking south from the down platform at Sherburn Colliery station c1900. Because the railway is in a cutting, the station building is at a higher level, adjacent to Front Street whose bridge is seen here. The canted bay window on its lower floor is a distinctive feature of architect G T Andrews’ stations. A path is seen sloping from the station entrance and the main building down to the up platform. The splitting signal close to the foot of the path controls the crossover beneath the bridge. Beyond the bridge the signal box cabin and roof can be seen on the up side of the lines.
Photo from Alan Lewis collection

1897 1:2,500 OS map. In 1897 the village of Sherburn amounts to a few short terraces, an Anglican church, a Primitive Methodist Chapel and a railway station. Immediately north, and giving its name to the station, is Sherburn Colliery. The station building is close to the station name on the roadside, west of the bridge over the railway. Paths lead down to the two railway tracks where the two platforms were located, although they are not marked on the map. The waiting shelter is shown east of the tracks. The signal box and a goods siding can be seen south of the road bridge. On the south side of Front Street a ramp leads down to the goods dock on the up side.

1961 1:2,500 OS map. By 1961 Sherburn Colliery station has closed to passengers, and possibly to goods too, though a goods siding remains south of Front Street bridge. ‘Station House’ – the main station building – is still in place, as are the two platforms. The passenger shelter on the up (east) platform has been demolished. The nearby colliery has closed, but the ‘Mineral Railway’ still connects a more distant colliery to the Old Main Line, and the sidings associated with the old Sherburn Colliery are seen to the north of the map.

Looking north from the up platform at Sherburn Colliery in August 1948. Although closed to regular passenger services since 1941 occasional excursions continued to call, which perhaps explains the retention of the running-in nameboard seen on the down platform. One of the NER ‘rabbit hutch’ enclosed timber waiting sheds can be seen some way along the up platform. The platforms
are no longer lit.
Photo from JW Armstrong Trust

A Peppercorn-designed A1 Pacific ‘Saint Mungo’ enters Sherburn Colliery station from the north in 1950. Built by BR to an LNER design, it entered service on 23 March 1949 at Gateshead shed and was withdrawn just over seventeen years later from 50A, York North shed on 19 June 1966 and sold for scrap two months later to Drapers of Hull. Although closed to regular passenger traffic since 1941 Sherburn Colliery had occasional later use by excursion trains, and the LNER running-in nameboard has been retained, possibly re-painted in BR(NE) tangerine.
Photo by NE Stead

Sherburn Colliery signal box and station are seen from the south c1950. A goods siding is seen to the right on this side of the bridge. The loco travelling north, bunker first, is Raven-designed Q6 No.63445, built by the NER. It entered service in September 1920, numbered 2288, at Borough Gardens shed in Gateshead. This 0-8-0 was renumbered by the LNER to 3445. On 26 June 1966 it was withdrawn from Tyne Dock shed and was broken up in the following September.
Photo from by W. Longstaff from Ken Hoole collection

Sherburn Colliery station, looking north from the road bridge in 1955. According to the headcode, this is a class F express freight hauled by 62059, a Peppercorn modification of Gresley’s K1 design. Entering service on 13 December 1949, this 2-6-0 was built at North British Loco Co and had a very short service life of just over seventeen years. It was withdrawn from 52F, Blyth North shed on 12 February 1967 and sent to Hughes Bolckow for scrapping during the following April.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

Looking south at Sherburn Colliery station in May 1969. The down platform, to the right, has been demolished, but the station building at the right hand end of Front Street overbridge is still standing: it would be demolished within the next two years.
Photo by Nick Catford

Looking north from Front Street bridge at Sherburn Colliery station in January 1988. Both platforms have been demolished.
Photo by John Mann

Looking north towards Front Street bridge, with the site of Sherburn Colliery station beyond, in June 2011. The ‘mothballed’ down line is to the left, and up line to the right.
Photo by Nick Catford

The base of the two-ton yard crane survives at Sherburn Colliery goods dock on the south side of Front Street in June 2011.
Photo by Nick Catford

In March 2013 the rails have recently been removed through Sherburn Colliery station. In the process the vegetation that had invaded the site has been removed, allowing the goods dock to be seen. The view is northward with Front Street bridge in the background. The station was on the
far side of the bridge.
Photo by Jamie Martin from his Flickr Photostream

The site of Sherburn Colliery station looking south towards Front Street bridge in October 2013, a year after the track was lifted.
Photo by Ali Ford

Click here for more pictures of Sherburn Colliery station




[Source: Alan Young]

Last updated: Friday, 26-May-2017 10:56:15 CEST
© 1998-2013 Disused Stations