Station Name: WEARHEAD


[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 21.10.1895
Location: On the north side of Front Street (A689)
Company on opening: North Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 29.6.1953
Date closed completely: 2.1.1961
Company on closing: British Railways (North Eastern Region)
Present state: The station buildings and platform are extant and in use as a private residence.
County: Durham
OS Grid Ref: NY860394
Date of visit: May 1968 & April 2006

Notes: Wearhead is about 1100 feet above sea level and was the terminus of the Wear Valley Extension Railway. It was 22 miles from Wear Valley Junction.

The station layout was quite complex, containing a single road engine shed, turntable, signal box, goods warehouse, water column and a run round loop. The branch engine was stabled at Wearhead, being a sub shed of West Auckland. The last engine to be stabled there was class J21 0-6-0 no. 314 later 65064.

Principle traffic dispatched in 1923 was roadstone 29000 tons, clay and ganister 8,600 tons.After WW1 the Durham County Water Board proposed an enlarged Burnhope Reservoir for which they obtained an Act of parliament in 1922. The Act provided for a tramway from Wearhead to Burnhope with a siding connection at Burnhope goods yard and a long holding
siding was built in 1930 for water board traffic. Construction of the resrvoir was completed in 1936 but the tramway was never built and the siding at Wearhead was abandoned. The agreement with the LNER was terminated on 2.9.1935..

Wearhead Station was closed to all traffic on 2nd January 1961, when the line was cut back to St. Johns Chapel. For a time some of the sidings were used to store redundant wagons and track was still in place in August 1963.

After closure the station yard was occupied by A. Corbett & Son as an office and base for lorries. The locomotive shed was still standing but its single road had been lifted. By 1977 the station area was occupied by J. Hodson Ltd, a Landrover agency, the brick goods shed had been restored as a store. A bungalow has now been build behind the former station building and the back wall of the station building has been retained. The former station masters house has been converted into a private residence and the locomotive shed has been demolished.

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. 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 a new one was 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), Eastgate, Westgate-in-Weardale & St. John's Chapel

Wearhead Station in 1901
Copyright p
hoto from John Alsop collection

Wearhead Station in 1967
hoto by Roy Lambeth

The station entrance in April 2006
Photo by Hadrian Thackray

Click on thumbnail to enlarge




[Source: Nick Catford]

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