Weardale Railway News 2004

26 Dec 2004


A Merry Christmas to all Project supporters!


The Santa Special runs went exceptionally well. Six coaches were in use with the second brake compartment fitted out as Santa’s grotto, and traction provided by a class 20 diesel. All seats were sold out well in advance and the feedback from customers was most encouraging. Many were so impressed that they have already booked seats for next year.

The success of our first Santa runs is the result of the dedication and hard work of a lot of people, so a big vote of thanks to organisers, train crews and station staff for giving the paying public such an enjoyable experience, not to mention Santa and all his little helpers for being there every run to distribute presents and seasonal cheer. I think we must also recognise the “invisible” and often forgotten contributions made by P-way and depot workers. People had to walk the 6 miles of track before each weekend to ensure its integrity and passenger safety. People had to be at the depot hours before each run to check vehicle safety and put the train together so that it could be out on time, then work more hours after its return to clean coaches, fill fuel tanks and deal with routine maintenance. Without all of this hard work Santa would have been left sitting at Wolsingham twiddling his thumbs! So a huge vote of thanks to all concerned.

If you missed those weekends, don’t forget that there are 2 runs per day from Boxing Day to Monday Jan 3rd inclusive. NELPG’s P3 is back in Wolsingham, so some of those runs will be steam hauled. See the Timetables section for details.


Santa put in one extra run last Wednesday when the Emerald Nursery, based in the original Frosterley Station buildings, chartered the train for all the children. They’ll be talking about it all year! This is an opportune point to advertise the Trust’s latest publication “The Little Nursery on the Line”, a short book written by local author Jean Evans and illustrated by John C. Longstaff (Northern Echo cartoonist “Cluff”). It tells the story of the re-opening of a heritage railway in Weardale and is intended for reading to children aged 3 to 6. Available now from the Trust office at Stanhope, price £4. The Little Nursery on the Line.


And a Happy New Year

3 Dec 2004


Definite confirmation of the motive power for our Santa Specials and Christmas Holiday running schedule!  NELPG's P3 (J27) is to arrive at the depot next week and is expected to be in steam for the 26th December run. An added bonus is that a class 20 diesel has already arrived as backup. This loco could easily haul the full compliment of coaches if called upon, thereby avoiding the problems of reduced capacity if the 141 units were our only fallback. It had its test run today with four of the six coaches made ready for the Santa Specials, and performed admirably. It will be performing this duty tomorrow and Sunday for the first Santa Special weekend runs, and the next two weekends unless the P3 arrives early.
Three Mk 1 coaches have also arrived, having been bought from the P&DSR. "Anna" has the luggage area fitted out as a shop / cafe / bar. "Nina" is an open 1st class coach. Although in need of a little exterior work, they are both in good order and will be in use over the December / January running period. The third coach is also in good general order and should be ready for work by Easter.

20-189 in the running shed.

20-189 coming out for its "Santa Special" test run.

Ready to leave Stanhope Station after a faultless journey.

"Nina" and "Anna" ready for Santa Special service.

Nina's interior.

Mk 1 corridor - to be ready by Easter 2005.

The Santa Specials have been a sell-out, but if you were too late to book seats, remember there will be two return runs per day from Boxing Day to January 3rd, all expected to be steam hauled.


23 Nov 2004


The search for motive power for our Santa Specials and Christmas Holiday running schedule has taken many twists and turns over the last couple of weeks. The 141 units had their test run for the Weardale Railway Trust members before the A.G.M. and performed well. A class 31 diesel was then offered for use, then withdrawn. Finally NELPG's P3 (J27) was made available to us and will hopefully arrive next week. This is excellent news, as the loco was a firm favourite when working in Weardale last summer. It is also powerful enough to haul one or two extra coaches. This means that many disappointed people (most Santa Special runs had been over-subscribed) can now book seats after all.

If you had previously tried to book places, phone 0845 600 1348 now and you may be able to claim seats in the extra allocation! For more information go to the Timetables page.


8 Nov 2004


The search is on to find a replacement for the Mardy Monster in time for our Santa Specials and Christmas Holiday running schedule. Necessary repairs to the Monster have proved to be more extensive than first thought, so it will not be running again this year.
Whilst there are a number of possible replacements being considered, our 141 DMU set has been serviced and made ready for use just in case Santa needs diesel power to bring his little friends to the Station Grotto. The 141s are expected to have their trial run on Saturday 13th November taking Trust members from Stanhope to the Wolsingham depot and back before the A.G.M. 
The decision has now been taken that next year's extension to the line will definitely be to Eastgate. This means that we need to complete track clearance, bridge repairs and fencing, replace Unthank crossing, install watering facilities, lay a run round loop and build a station - all in time for a proposed opening date of June 4th.
The canopy at Stanhope Station is moving a step further this week with the installation of the cast iron framework. During our running season only the supporting pillars were in place. Whether or not the glazing is in place before the Santa Specials depends on many things, not least the weather, but if you visit during the Christmas season, you will notice a difference. The down platform waiting room has now been fitted out as an interpretive and educational centre. It now forms a useful base for visiting parties, particularly schools.
One of our newly formed groups, The Weardale Railway Locomotive and Carriage Trust has made a deposit on its first purchases. Three Mk 1 coaches will soon be on their way from Devon to Weardale. Two of them need only a small amount of tidying and painting and should see service from Easter. The third needs more work but is a very useful vehicle. Its final purpose could well be as a buffet car. Watch this space!
If you are interested in the work of our volunteer groups, visit the Groups area of the web site for more details.

Although not connected with the Railway, an interesting development is the arrival of 4 trams in Weardale. They are currently being stored awaiting a suitable site for renovation. Two are from Budapest and are basically sound. The other two are from Holland and are in great need of TLC (by the bucket load!). The hope is that they will eventually form part of the internal transport system of the planned visitor centre for the old Lafarge cement works site at Eastgate.


3 Oct 2004


THE FIRST OPERATING SEASON has now finished. Although we had planned to continue until today, technical difficulties with the Mardy Monster meant it was wise to end a couple of days early. Time will now be spent in ensuring that we have suitable stock in place for our Santa Specials and Christmas Holiday running schedule, details of which can now be found in our Timetables area.
Work is well advanced on the infrastructure renovation to open the Stanhope - Eastgate section next summer, and lineside clearance is progressing towards Witton-le-Wear keeping us on track to open the long section back to Bishop Auckland in 2006. 

Up to now, Trust members wishing to spend time "hands on" to help renovate historic locos or rolling stock have joined the Weardale Railway Locomotive Preservation Group. While this group continues to grow, there will soon be extra groups working with specific aims. The first of these is the Weardale Railway Locomotive and Carriage Trust. This group is concentrating on the acquisition of steam locomotives and rolling stock appropriate to the project. The members hope to be able to tap into new sources of money for the railway, as well as obtaining a reliable source of income from regular donors. All donations will be gratefully accepted, but to become a 'voting member' a minimum annual donation of £100 is required, either as an annual payment or in monthly installments.
Another group in the process of forming is for enthusiasts of Heritage Diesels. The group members' payments will give them shares in the vehicles owned by the group - again the intention is that they will see work on the Weardale Railway.

More information on these groups will follow soon. In the meantime if you want to be "in at the start" you could contact:

Locomotive and Carriage Trust......

Dr Michael Wood

Heritage Diesels......

Dave Hollingsworth (07980 359020)
or www.nehdg.org.uk

Messages for either can be left at the Trust office at Stanhope Station.


9 Sept 2004




  • The Railway has now been operating every day for 7 weeks – traffic levels have been close to our projections, despite the rather disappointing weather in August. The last Bank Holiday weekend tested the capacity of our service and of the car parking space at Wolsingham.
  • It has been gratifying to receive much positive feedback from visitors both at the stations, in writing and via this web site. Many visitors have given additional donations and Trust membership has now risen to 820. The website now receives 800 to 1000 ‘hits’ per week.
  • Additionally there has been favourable comment in the press and a very comprehensive coverage in the Railway press. There were detailed articles in the July issues of ‘Heritage Rail’ and ‘Steam Railways’ . The August and/or September issues of  every railway Journal had news coverage and photographs  - a particular favourite seems to be the picturesque River Wear crossing near Frosterley which attracts photographers almost every day.
  • More positive aspects of the reopening of the Railway are making their effects felt in the Dale. We are getting feedback from businesses in Stanhope and Wolsingham of significantly increased trade – up to three times in some case. One hostelry has reported its lunch time trade is up by a factor of five times.
  • The station café at Stanhope - ‘The Signal Box’- has  been also been a great success – Joanne Clark and her staff have set a high standard. A shop has been opened in Stanhope station and its scope and sales potential is being gradually increased.



  • Perhaps the main news here is the arrival at our Wolsingham Depot of the ‘Mardy Monster’. This is an 0-6-0 Peckett tank engine built specifically to handle traffic on the steep gradients at Mardy colliery in South Wales. (First pictures in the Gallery). As such it is one of the most powerful locomotives in its class and will make light work of the Weardale gradients even with up to 9 coaches. It is hoped we can first run this locomotive in a top and tail configuration with NELPG's P3 on Stanhope Show weekend (11, 12 September). Thereafter it will take over the regular duties as the P3 is leaving Weardale after the weekend.
  • The current  operating season will continue until Sunday October 3rd. Services will be resumed in December over the Christmas – New Year period.
  • Booking information for the Santa Specials is being finalised and will be issued on the press, in leaflets and on the website in mid September. Bookings will be accepted via phone or in writing for specific assigned seats on the eight operating days prior to Christmas Day.
  • A special service will also operate daily between December 26th and January 2nd.
  • There are several further articles coming up in the press and media on the railway. One which may be of interest if you are following our progress, is on a DVD published by Railway Monthly as its August issue – which includes a long feature on the opening and operating of the Railway. We will have copies for sale in our shop shortly, or visit www.therailwaymonthly.com
  • The Railway will feature as part of an item on Weardale in an upcoming edition of the BBC 1 ‘Holiday Programme’ – no date yet announced. Also- for local viewers- the ‘Dales Diary’ programme will include an item on Stanhope and the Railway which  will probably go out in late September.
  • Meanwhile advance planning is turning to our next operating season when we hope to be able to offer increased services from Easter onwards, special event weekends and the opening of a further section of the line towards Eastgate. More on this later.




  • Since the opening on July 17 the Project Team has been busy completing a lot of behind the scenes work and in the inevitable de-snagging jobs which became apparent once we reopened a railway after a decade of disuse. Perhaps the most obvious was the repair job required on the toilet drains leading from Stanhope station – now completed and the car park is resurfaced. Less obvious is the work , still ongoing, to lay further sidings at the Depot and remedial work on drainage along the track – the violent storms in August caused extra work here.
  • At Stanhope station most of the painting is now completed. We hope to have the South Waiting Room finished with seats installed and interpretive boards in place in the next week. In future seasons this will also used as a classroom facility for visiting school parties.
  • One question often asked by visitors to Stanhope station is: ‘Why are the platform light standards so tall?’ The answer is because current lighting regulations require it – the rules relate to light intensity at ground level and elimination of light pollution which would result from reflected light if the lights were lower. So, like the ‘bubble’ strip along the platform edge for sight impaired persons, this will be another non-original feature of the station refurbishment required by new legislation.
  • One feature that will follow the original design will be the platform canopy at Stanhope station. The parts for this are all ready to be installed following the end of the present operating season in October and no doubt will be a welcome feature when Santa visits the station in December.
  • Once these tasks are finished and some further de-snagging and Depot works are completed, the Project Team will start on Phase 2 of the Weardale Railway Reopening Plan. More details in a later report.
10 Aug 2004


We have now been operating for 3 weeks.

The last fortnight has been a huge learning curve for us. The number of visitors has been phenomenal with capacity numbers on many runs. At Stanhope Station the cafe has been struggling keep up with demand at times, and the plumbing gave up twice, not helped by the fact that the main drain had suffered damage during some of the refurbishment. Wolsingham has proved a more popular starting point than expected, so urgent plans for next year must include shelters and an extended car park there.

NELPG's P3 has been out of use for much of the last fortnight so No. 22 has proved the mainstay of operations, gallantly hauling its two coaches to Stanhope before re-coaling, watering, oiling round then heading back down to Wolsingham. Pictures of this little hero are now appearing in our Gallery area and more will appear as soon as I can get them, but if you want more info you will find a link to its regular home, the Bowes Railway, on our Contacts page.
As the running times are different for No. 22, this information is now shown on the Timetables as soon as possible. However we recommend a call to 0845 6001348 if you are travelling any great distance.

The Visit Britain agency's "Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Service" has recently completed an inspection of our railway and pronounced us a quality attraction. Their report highlights some minor areas to upgrade in the future, but they were impressed with the way in which the operation has started, and had no hesitation in recommending us for the award.



23 July 2004


We have now been operating for 1 week.
Saturday 17th July saw our Gala Opening incorporating a ceremony at each of the three stations during the inaugural run. Three further return journeys followed in steadily improving weather conditions. Despite a wet start, huge numbers of people turned out to witness this long-awaited event. For a fuller description and pictures of Day 1, click here

Services on Saturday and Sunday were all "topped and tailed" by our first two visiting locos, No. 49 from Tanfield Railway and NELPG's P3 on a season's visit from NYMR. No. 49 worked solo on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to Tanfield, while the P3 underwent a boiler flush and other maintenance in readiness for continuous use.
Thursday and Friday saw 0-4-0 No. 22 from Bowes Railway doing duty, hauling two coaches to a modified timetable.
P3 no. 62392 takes over on Saturday 24th July as the regular motive power hauling between three and six coaches as passenger numbers demand. See pics of all three locos in our Gallery.


17 July 2004


To coincide with our Gala Opening.......
A new railway book has been printed. "Rebirth of a Heritage Line" by Tom Hutchinson & John Askwith charts the history, decline and re-opening of the Weardale Railway. This 50 page, soft backed book includes a multitude of archived photographs, maps and diagrams - a must for any would-be Weardale Railway expert. It retails for £4.95 from Stanhope Station and other selected outlets. 

15 July 2004

Progress Update




  • Today we received the final clearances from the HMRI (HSE) and ORR to operate trains and the three stations at Stanhope, Frosterley and Wolsingham, so our planned services will begin as scheduled on Saturday July 17th.
  • Finishing touches are being carried out at all three  stations – station nameboards, seats, etc. and some ‘instant’ gardens.
  • There will be a catering facility in the main platform building at Stanhope serving pre-packed food and drinks. Also on both Saturday and Sunday a catering and drinks marquee on the field adjacent to the station plus some other displays for the visiting public.
  • The opening ceremony will start at 10.30am on the Saturday – and  the first train will leave at 11.15am. All tickets have been sold or allocated for this inaugural service – there will be space for spectators to observe the ceremony.


  • We have the two steam engines, as previously mentioned and 5 coaches on site and we plan to use at least 3 coaches on the Opening Day. All tickets have been sold or allocated for the first train. 
  • However there will  be room for ‘walk on’ passengers on the 3 subsequent trains which depart Stanhope at 12.45, 14.45 and 16.15, returning from Wolsingham at 14.05, 15.30 and 17.00.
  • Return tickets on these special first day trains, which will be pulled by two engines in steam are £15. This  includes a souvenir first day ticket and a gift bag of ‘goodies’ sponsored by the Northern Echo.
  • Tickets on the Sunday (18th) will be £10 / £5. Trains leave Stanhope at  11.15, 12.45. 14.45 and 16.15 and from  Wolsingham at 12.00, 14.00, 15.15 and 16.30 .

14 July 2004 The three Llangollen coaches, topped and tailed by steam had a practice run today - all went well. The first two coaches from the Caledonian Railway are expected tomorrow, as is HMRI for hopefully their last inspection.


9 July 2004 Both steam locos and a rake of three coaches from Llangollen are now in Weardale. See Gallery for pics.


8 July 2004

Progress Update


Still Looking O.K. . . . .  


  • Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate has been visiting the line as part of the final steps in the process of obtaining the relevant Safety approvals and Operating Certificates. The process is proceeding on schedule and we expect to be officially classified as an operating railway from Monday.
  • The WR is therefore on track to open on the 17th of July. The mammoth task of restoring over 5 miles of track which had been unused for 10 years, reconstructing 3 stations and building an entirely new engineering base and running shed is on schedule to be completed in a few days.
  • Arrangements have been confirmed for 2 steam locomotives and 6 passenger coaches which will form the  first trains – deliveries by road to the Wolsingham Railway Centre started last Tuesday, and will continue throughout the next week.
  • The newly reconstructed stations at Wolsingham and Frosterley   and the resurfacing of the platforms at Stanhope are on target to complete by the end of this week. The running shed at Wolsingham is being completed today – it will have 3 lines of track for weatherproof maintenance and storage purposes. It was erected in just 7 days using pre fabricated building panels.
  • It has been a complex project – involving  scores of volunteers and a Project staff of 31 persons many of whom were long term unemployed who the Railway has employed under the ‘Back to Work’ Scheme.
The railway plans to operate a daily service of 4 trains each way between Stanhope and Frosterley from July 17 through to the end of September. For fares and times see the Timetables area of this site.

  See new pics in Gallery - Work on Infrastructure and Rollong Stock.

1 July 2004

Progress Update


Some advance details of Opening Day arrangements . . . .


Is July 17th  still on?

As previously mentioned, the Project remains on track to open on 17th July.  However, any intending visitors, particularly those travelling some distance, would be wise to monitor this website or call 01388 526262 and double-check before travelling, as we cannot, as yet, guarantee that this date will be met.


Will trains be steam hauled?

We can now confirm that there will be at least two steam locomotives in steam on opening day.  For the more technically minded one will be a J27 (NER  P3) 0-6-0 tender engine, number 62392, and the other will be an Austerity 0-6-0 saddletank engine number 49, built by Robert Stephenson Hawthorn, and restored by the Tanfield Railway.


Will both engines be hauling?

Yes; to avoid running round on opening day, these two engines will ‘top and tail’ the coaches (hopefully six).  Further news on the locos and coaches will follow once we are in a position to confirm.


Who will ride on the first train?

Invitations to ride on the first train have been sent out to those persons and organisations who have helped to make this project a reality.  Acceptances are almost 100%.  Further seats on the first train, are bookable now. See the Timetables section or phone 01388 526262 for details.


What is the timetable for Opening Day?

A special timetable will operate on this day.  The Railway Opening Ceremony will be at Stanhope at 10.30 a.m. and the first train will depart at 10.45 a.m.  The first stop will be at Frosterley for an opening ceremony, and the unveiling of a Frosterley Marble sculpture. The train is due to arrive at Wolsingham at 11.20 a.m. where again there will be an opening ceremony.

It is planned to run a further four round trips on the 17th between Stanhope and Wolsingham.


What will the fares be?

Prices:  Adult (Child) return on the first train will be £30 (£18).  On subsequent trains that day £15 (£10), and on Sunday 18th - £10 (£5)  All passengers will receive a special commemorative medal and ticket.

After the 19th July fares will be £5 (£3).  Family tickets, single tickets, etc. will be available and Frosterley Station will be brought into use.



The field adjacent to and behind Stanhope Station, will be in use during the Opening Weekend, and refreshments and various activities will take place there.


More information . . . .will be advised through this website as plans are firmed up.

. . . . took place this weekend. Saturday's weather was poor keeping the crowds down, but the sun shone on Sunday and made up for it. As expected, this firm favourite on the calendar was an excellent event with something for everyone -  steam rollers, wagons and traction engines, stationary engines, fairground rides, vintage cars, bikes and trucks, organs, miniature engines and railway, "the wild west", trade stands, food and beer. New pics in Gallery - Special Events.
. . . . and next year you'll be able to arrive by steam! Put it in your diary now - last weekend in June.


25 June 2004

Progress Update




Good progress continues to be made on all the main project construction and restoration projects. With 3 weeks to go to our planned opening we believe that we can complete all the essential works at the three stations, on the track and at the Wolsingham Centre. Loco and coach acquisition is proceeding well. 




  • Work on the Main station building restoration continues and is now 98% complete. The Local Authorities have inspected and approved the new toilet installations and drainage system. Interior painting and refurbishment by volunteers is also continuing.
  • All the castings for the new canopy support columns are now complete. After painting they will be delivered to Stanhope and installed prior to July 17. As previously explained, the canopy itself cannot be installed and completed until after the operating season.
  • The existing platform surfaces on both the Up and Down platforms have been excavated – the excavated material will be used as backfill at the two new station platforms at Frosterley and Wolsingham. After the Up platform foundations have been extended westwards to accommodate 8 coach trains, new surfaces to current standards will be installed on both platforms.
  • New platform lamp standards, again to an original pattern, are now being installed, on both platforms and on the passenger overbridge.
  • Work on the overbridge is planned to start on the 28th June. The bridge, which is also a public Right of Way, requires new timbering on the treads. Final painting work on the Down platform Waiting room continues.
  • Materials to reinstall the level crossing immediately to the west of Stanhope station (access to the Bondisle field ) has arrived on site and will be installed this  week in time for the Steam Festival traffic.



  • Trackwork has been reinstalled on Bridge 28, the river crossing immediately east of Stanhope Station, after replacement of the waybeams as mentioned in the last report.
  • Work will start this week on a similar replacement programme on Bridge 30 west of Stanhope Station. It is interesting to note that because of shortages and high prices for treated hardwood timber in the UK it has proved more economical to purchase the timbers from Canada and the Australia and ship them via airfreight – globalisation hits Weardale!
  • Work continues on the sleeper replacement between Frosterley and Wolsingham. 188 of the programmed 312 sleepers have so far been replaced.
  • Work on the Wiserley Hall level crossing will start this week and on the Broadwood level crossing in the following week. Occupation crossings (16 in total) are being cleared and warning notices installed.
  • Significant work is needed to rebuild a culvert near Rogerley Hall – work will start this week.
  • Despite the many hours weeks and months of activity by our volunteers in clearing 10 years of growth on this 5 mile section  the early summer growth showed the need for more clearance work. To carry this work out we will this week be utilising a RailRoader machine which will cut, flail and shred the overgrowth and load into an adjacent wagon, meanwhile it will also tamp the track.



  • The platform wall is now installed and work is starting on the backfill prior to laying the platform surface.
  • Gates for the level crossing at the west end of the platform are ready for installation.
  • Courtesy of the Sherburn Stone Co. a Frosterley Marble sculpture has been donated to stand as exhibit on the platform at Frosterley station. The ‘marble, actually a limestone, has a part polished surface revealing the details of the fossils which make up the rock. This stone was used as a decorative feature in Durham Cathedral and other buildings in the North East and beyond.



  • Work on the new platform is progressing well. The platform wall is now 35% complete. Work has also started on the disabled access ramp from the road to the platform – it will be lined using local stone.
  • The car park is 95% complete only fencing and white lining remain to be done.



  • Work on the concrete pad and the inspection pits is on programme and targeted for completion at the end of June. Meanwhile 16 of the 40 sections of the ‘flat pack’ running shed building are on site and the drainage work is 75% complete.
  • The security gates for the rail access side of the site are now installed
  • The off loading ramp for road deliveries of rolling stock is 50% complete, as is the coal bunkering facility and the foundation work for the water tank.
  • The 141 DMU’s have been repainted and work on their refurbishment continues – it is hoped to test them on the line in the near future. They are intended to be available as standby emergency equipment.
  • Seven of the ten switches (points) required for the layout in the Centre have been installed. The remaining 3 will be installed once the running shed has been erected. Work on the 11 sidings in the Centre will start next week, all the necessary track is on site – one of the sidings is aligned such that it can run through to the Steelworks in the future, should traffic offer.


  • A  Safety Audit was held with Network rail and HSE representatives last week. Paul Foxton, our H & S Officer, and WRL and Project management attended. We are on track to receive a clean bill of health.  Our next key meeting is with the Railway Inspectorate (HMRI)  at the end of this month.
  • Major Harrison of the Royal Engineers has confirmed that the engineering team will return to the railway and spend a week based at Eastgate in late July extracting track and other railway equipment from the cement works site. We acknowledge the assistance and cooperation of Lafarge in facilitating access to the site.



  • The Board of WRL acknowledge the magnificent achievements of our Project Manager Tony Greenup. He joined us in February 2003 after working in project management with Rolls Royce in the UK, Europe, South America and South Africa. Since then he has driven the project forward with enthusiasm and determination, surmounting obstacles and meeting demanding deadlines. His enthusiasm is such that he continues working as a volunteer at the weekends on top of many additional hours throughout the week.
  • Now that the total full time staff has reached 20 and with contractors and volunteers we can have over 50 people working on a linear site 5 miles in length  (and soon to increase) the Board has sanctioned the addition of an Assistant Project Manager to the organisation. We are pleased to welcome David Briggs as Assistant Project Manager starting this week.  David joins us from Balfour Beatty – his previous work included a period on the Sunderland extension of the Tyne & Wear Metro.


11 June 2004

Progress Update



  • Work on the rooms within the main station building is 90% complete – the target is to have the work ready for approval by the Authorities on June 17.
  • The existing corrugated iron canopy over the front entrance has been completely replaced. The  new canopy is glass covered and is part of the programme to restore the station as closely as possible to its original 1895 appearance.
  • Volunteers have repainted the ticket office – thanks here to Tracey Dixon, the Project ledger clerk and others.
  • Work on the castings for the main platform canopy, again to the original design, has commenced – as previously mentioned, work on reconstructing the canopy cannot be carried out until the end of the summer season.
  • A fireplace, to the original design, has been installed in the Down platform waiting room. John Askwith is coordinating design work on interpretive displays – linking the railway history and restoration work with the support of our various funders which will be installed in this room.
  • The diagonal slotted wooden platform fencing is 80% complete and work has commenced on extending the usable platform length by 75 metres.
  • The passing loop has been canted and set at the correct height, ready for HMRI inspection at the end of this month. 
  • Materials for the disabled crossing at the platform end have been delivered to the site.


  • Work is progressing well on the sleeper replacement programme, 288 sleepers in total have been replaced between Stanhope and Frosterley, completing the work on this section. Work by the PW gang now moves on to the Frosterley – Wolsingham section where 130 sleepers have been replaced so far.
  • Bridge 28, the river crossing immediately east of Stanhope station required a complete replacing of the timber way beams supporting the track. This work is complete, it required 15 tons of specially treated Canadian timber. Similar work on the Bridge 30, the river crossing to the west of Stanhope station has commenced.
  • As mentioned previously the materials for the level crossings at Broadwood and Wiserley Hall are onsite, the level crossing orders have been submitted and we now anticipate official approval to install the gates on or by June 23.
  • As is required by regulations we have written to inform the users of the 16 occupation crossings on this stretch of line that the line will become an  operational railway. As a point of interest there are 65 occupation crossings between Eastgate and Bishop Auckland.


  • Work on the station car park is now 98% complete, only final tidying up and painting of white lines remains to be done.
  • The track through the station has been aligned and is now at the correct height, the platform wall is 75% complete. Work on the platform surface should start next week.


  • The track through Wolsingham station has also been slewed to the new platform alignment. Foundation work on the new platform commences this week. An electricity junction box has been relocated and installed.
  • Work on the station car park has commenced and is 70% complete, and the access road has been resurfaced.


  • So far 1000 tons of cement has been poured and 500 tons of reinforcing rods installed for the foundations of the new running shed. Materials for the ‘flat pack’ shed building,  which will take 12 days to erect, is due to arrive on site on June 23.
  • Meanwhile other work for the new running shed is well underway, drains are being installed, the inspection pits have been excavated and concrete laying has commenced.
  • The new electrical sub station is being constructed – it will appear to be a brick building but is actually a specially moulded plastic. On site completion is targeted for early July.
  • The 20,000litre water tank is now on site – work on installation commences in the next two weeks as will work on the coaling station and the offloading ramp for road deliveries of rolling stock.
  • The security gates for the rail access side of the site will be installed in the coming week. This will complete the permanent perimeter security of the centre.
  • Seven of the ten switches (points) required for the layout in the centre have been installed – 30 metres of connecting track work are complete. Further track will be laid as soon as the site drainage work is complete.


  • The Office of the Rail Regulator has confirmed that our go ahead to commence to operate the Railway will take effect once the HMRI have approved our Safety Case, which as stated previously should be towards the end Of June.
  • Funding:  The paperwork on one of the three major grant contract remains to be finalised, this work should be completed in the next few days.


  • We are pleased to welcome Nicola Garvin onto the Project team. Nicola who lives in Cowshill, joins us as Financial controller and takes over the task of maintaining the financial stewardship of the Project – expenditure on which will exceed £1million this year.
  • It is with great sadness that we must report the passing of Gil Chatfield following a struggle with cancer. Gil was a founder member of the Society in 1993 and until very recently gave his time freely as Trust Chairman or Director, and was the first point of contact in the Trust office. He will be fondly remembered by the many who met him.


  • We stated earlier that July 17 was a demanding target – are  we on track to meet this date? Broadly the answer is yes. There was some slack built into the critical path items, as is normal in project planning. We have used up a lot of this slack, but the key items remain on schedule for a July 17 opening. Some items, such as HMRI approval, are outside our direct control, but our current information is that all such items are proceeding satisfactorily.
  • What about loco’s and coaches? We could not begin detailed negotiations on these until we had two key items confirmed. First the completion of the match funding to finance the restoration of the infrastructure and second that we could guarantee to have all weather storage and maintenance facilities ( i.e. the new running shed) . These confirmations came last month, since when we have entered detailed negotiations with several parties – these negotiations are ongoing and to date the omens are good. More information as soon as we have confirmation.


20 May 2004

Progress Update



  • Work continues on the restoration of the main building – electricity and water connections are complete – over the next two weeks it is planned to complete the interior work on tiling, light fittings and the toilets. The new telephone exchange is installed and is operational.
  • The bases of the old canopy support columns have now all been removed ready to commence work on the new canopy supports and trusses.
  • The waiting room on the  down platform is now 100% structurally complete – only electrical work remains to be finished.


  • Work is progressing well on the sleeper replacement programme, 110 sleepers have been replaced since the last report.
  • Level crossing orders have been submitted and we await official approval to install the gates, etc all of which have been obtained.
  • As is required by regulations we have written to inform the users of the 16 occupation crossings on this stretch of line that the line will become an  operational railway. As a point of interest there are 65 occupation crossings between Eastgate and Bishop Auckland.


  • After a break, work on the station car park has resumed and it should be complete by the time of the next report.
  • After some sterling work by a group involving Alastair Bruce (Construction Supervisor), Steve Race(PW Engineer) and Arran Anderson (Track Clearance) work on the foundations on the 200m new platform have been completed. Work on the platform surface has now started.


Work on the new car park should start in this coming week and on the platform the week after. Work to slew the track along the edge of the new platform should also commence soon.


  • After some concerted volunteer effort culminating in a full weekend of work – in this case assisted by Tony Greenup our Project Manager (on his days off!) plus notable help from a Corus employee, also on his days off, the connection to the main line is finally completed and three turnouts leading into the sheds have been installed.
  • Meanwhile work on the new running shed is well underway, drains are being installed, the pits are being excavated and concrete laying has commenced.

See new pics in Gallery - Work on Infrastructure.


  • Work continues on the recommendations of the HMRI for our Safety case approval, another on site meeting with the HMRI contact was held last week.
  • We expect to hear from the Office of the Rail Regulator that our go ahead to operate the Railway became effective as of  May 14th the date given in the Statutory Notice.
Of the three major grants for our £3million Main Project funding, we have received and signed the offer letters for two of the grants and expect to complete the third shortly, at which point we would plan a formal press release.


  • There are two changes to announce regarding the volunteers on the Board of Weardale Railways Limited. First, Kelso Yuill our Finance Director since the beginning of the Starter Project last year has asked to stand down.
  •  No praise can be too high for the work Kelso has done in setting up the accounting system and controlling the cash flow in the critical early days of the  project. The success of our recent major funding drive is due in no small measure to the reputation we gained for accurate and prudent financial stewardship during this early period. Kelso intends to remain an active volunteer – there are even rumours about a position as crossing keeper at Witton le Wear!
  • Because of the increased financial workload due to the higher activity and expenditure we are recruiting a full time financial accountant. However the Board would still wish to have a suitably qualified Finance Director to oversee the function and report to and sit on the Board of WRL. So if you are or know of a  person with experience as a Controller of finance and who has some time he/she could devote, we would like to hear from you.
  • Secondly we welcome on to the WRL Board David Fawcett. David is a former Chief Mechanical Engineer for BR – since when he has worked for several of the rail contract companies. Now he has joined us and is giving valuable help and advice on rolling stock and loco procurement and maintenance.
  • To coordinate the training of the operating staff we have secured the services of David Hollingsworth an EWS  driver now transferred to our  Project.


AN OPERATIONS VOLUNTEER DAY has been arranged for Sunday May 23rd at Stanhope Town Hall. Over 100 invitation letters have been sent out to our registered volunteers .The purpose is to start the detailed organisation of the volunteer effort for this seasons operating  programme – this will include training and preparing rosters for the various operational activities.

          Gerry Mudd


8 May 2004

Progress Update



  • Work continues on the restoration of the main platform building. New internal walls are complete and ceilings are being installed. Components for the bicycle shed have been delivered and it will be erected nearer our planned opening day.
  •  The small waiting room on the down platform is now structurally complete and work is now proceeding on the internal fitting out and electricity supply. The original building had a chimney for the waiting room fire. A chimney in North Eastern Railway style was located in Carlisle and is now installed.
  • To facilitate disabled access to and from the down platform a crossing is required - the materials for this crossing were delivered last week.
  • 500 tons of ballast have been delivered to Stanhope from Tyne yard.


  • Now the full track assessment survey is complete, work has started on essential sleeper replacement. Equipment to construct cattle grids at the level crossings has been ordered.


  • Work on the station car park continues. Kevin Hillary and his fellow volunteers are clearing the area for the newly resited platform, on which work should start shortly.


  • The land required for a passing loop has been cleared and 2000 tons of ballast delivered.


  • Contracts have been awarded for the sub-base and for the main building, to construct a new running shed for locos and coaching stock.
  • Track work leading from the mainline into the old gunnery shed and also towards the new running shed is being prepared.
  • Security: Two trespassers have been apprehended and have been cautioned by the police.


  • Surplus rail line obtained from a contractor on the main network in Northumberland has been delivered to Wolsingham.
  • The Safety Case: the HMRI recommendations are being implemented. We hope to have final clearance by mid May, which is also the date when our application to the Office of the Rail Regulator to operate the railway should come into effect.
  • We continue our efforts to implement good environmental practise on the land under our control. There has been a significant growth of trees and shrubs since the line was mothballed over 10 years ago – we are making sure that any such material is destroyed well away from housing. Bird boxes are being installed along the line and also last week at the Caravan Site for disabled people at Eastgate.
  • Finally and most importantly, we now have final approval from all three of our major funding bodies – the Heritage Lottery, the European Regional Development Fund and One Northeast. These grants award us £3million over the next 5 years to cover the cost of restoring the line and stations all the way to Bishop Auckland. The next step is to receive and sign the three offer letters.

          Gerry Mudd


6 May 2004


The  Wolsingham Railway Centre

The groundbreaking ceremony was held at 10.00 am today to mark the start of the railway’s first new building: a running shed (engine and carriage shed) at the Wolsingham Railway Centre within the Wolsingham Steelworks complex. 

Brian Morris the Managing Director of Weardale Railways commented “This is a major step forward towards our planned opening on 17th July this year. The running shed will hold up to six coaches or an equivalent amount of locomotives in high quality storage. The timescale for construction is tight and as a consequence we have decide to use a “flat pack” sectional building which will be delivered by road and erected within a week of delivery on the pre-prepared foundations. The building will then be fitted out ready for use in good time for the delivery of the locomotives ready to haul the first passenger trains.”



1 May 2004


Diary Dates:



The third annual Steam Transport Festival will be taking place in the field behind Stanhope Station on 26th and 27th June 2004 from about 10 am each day.  Don’t forget to add this to your diary, and enjoy an excellent day - or even weekend - out!!


    Attractions will include:

  • Showman Engines
  • Traction Engines
  • Miniature Steam Engines
  • Vintage Tractors and Wagons
  • Trade Stands
  • Western Re-enactment
  • Vintage Cars and Motorbikes
  • Organs
  • Model Railway    
  • Miniature Railway
  • Beer Tent
  • Entertainment
  • Photo Displays   
  • Craft Stalls

 Admission:   Adults £4.00,  Children and concessions  £2.00


If you would like further information, or if you would like to participate in any way, please contact:

David Foxton  Telephone  01388 817907

    or     John Toulson  Telephone  01833 640492


It would be appreciated if anyone willing to assist over the weekend would contact Kevin Hillary (01388 775126) or David Foxton before the event, to help the staffing planning.

Posters are available for advertising the event.

Camping is also available again. Please contact David Foxton.


See pictures from previous years in the Gallery.


21 April 2004

Progress Update:



· The loop line at the station is now ready for use. Since the last report 450 tons of ballast were laid, tamped and the track profile raised and aligned. The successful completion of this task was supervised by Trevor Horner, our Permanent Way Manager.

· Work continues on the restoration of the main platform building. The underground drainage for the new toilet complex, Gents, Ladies and Disabled, was installed. We plan to complete all interior refurbishment for the opening day – however the full re-erection of the platform canopy may have to be postponed until the end of the season as work cannot continue while the platform is in active use.

· Restoration of the small waiting room on the down platform continues to progress with the front wood and glass panels now being completed. It is planned to place interpretive boards on the interior walls from our project and other associated projects.


· Greg Dales and his team have completed their survey of the track.


· We have now submitted all the documentation for the reinstatement of the level crossings at Broadwood and at Wiserley Hall to the Secretary of State and DCC – and await the completion of the 28 day notice period. Materials for the new crossing have already been acquired.


· Work on the station car park continues, when completed it will hold 10 vehicles. A team under the supervision of Alistair Bruce has slewed the track into position alongside the site of the new platform, on which work will start shortly.


· Work on the entrance path to the new platform is now complete. The road and pathway at the entrance to the platform has been re-tarmaced. Gravel has been laid and levelled on the approach to the new 29 place car park which will be located to the east of the station house.


· Tenders have been evaluated for the sub base for the new running she and will be awarded in the next few days. The shed will have 3 running lines, two of which will be provide with pits. The contracts for the shed building and ancillary works will be awarded in the next two weeks.

· Work on the connection has been completed and has been inspected by the HMRI.

· The security team has a new member, Judy, a Rottweiler. You will recognise her as she has taken to permanently wearing a day-glo Weardale Railways vest. However you are advised not to approach.

· Security fencing is installed around the site - only a permanent security gate still needs to be installed at the rail entrance side once trackwork is complete.


· The Railway has had a great boost courtesy of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). A team under the leadership of Major Harrison retrieved 500 sleepers from the quarry at Coxhoe and transported them to Wolsingham over the weekend 18/19 April.

· Plans are being prepared with Major Harrison and his engineers to carry out further work at Wolsingham and Eastgate – more on this later. We are extremely grateful for this wonderful assistance from the REME.

· Through the good offices of Acquisition Officer Arthur Temple and Jarvis we have now in possession of a further 45 sixty foot lengths of rail – transport is being arranged this week.

· The Safety Case is progressing well. We have had a visit from the HMRI Principal Inspector whose recommendations are being implemented – this means we will shortly be able to run works trains.

· Our application to the Office of the Rail Regulator has now been accepted and he has given notice that he intends to authorise us to operate the initial section between Wolsingham Railway Centre and Stanhope. The Statutory notice has been published and comes into effect on 14 May 2004.

· Payment for purchase of the line and the contingent legal fees has been made to Network Rail and acknowledged, we await completion of the legal formalities

· Good progress is being made in finalising the £3 Million grant funding for the Main five year Project. All three of the grant applications have been appraised successfully and two (Heritage Lottery and European Regional Development) have been approved, the third goes forward for final approval in the next few days. We hope to receive the formal offer letters for all three imminently.

                    G C Mudd

See new pics in Gallery - Work on Infrastructure.


 16 April 2004

Australian news - Our Australian member, John Dowden was in touch recently. Apparently the rail line north has been extended from Alice Springs to Darwin and the new passenger service called Ghan commenced on 3rd Feb 2004. John was one of the lucky people to travel from Adelaide to Darwin on its inaugural run.
Below are some of his photos, including one showing the Trust magazine "Between the Lines" being displayed in Darwin!

Commemorative banner.

John with his Trust magazine in Darwin.

First day cover carried on the train.

The town centre in Stanhope, Australia.

 6 April 2004

Progress Update:


  • The loop line to facilitate running round at the station was completed this weekend ready for appraisal by the authorities on the 6th April. 150 tons of ballast were used in this operation. We acknowledge the assistance and equipment provided by Corus to our volunteers working with Kevin Hillary to complete this work.
  • The new Project portacabin office suite situated in the old goods yard at the station is now fully operational. We now have a four line telephone exchange and multi station computer network in operation
  • On the main platform rebuilding work has started on the new toilet facilities which are 80% complete, the Training room has been refurbished, whilst the Trust office , now manned  Monday to Friday, is fully operational.
  • The footbridge has been surveyed and tenders have been requested for its refurbishment.
  •  .The derelict waiting room on the down (south ) platform  has been re-roofed and water and electricity supply facilities have been installed
  • A Bicycle shelter has been ordered, it is to be positioned on the west side of the main station building,


  • Greg Dales and the track clearing team have started work on in track clearance between Stanhope and Eastgate.  The crossing immediately to the west of Stanhope station has been cleared , ready for refurbishment.


  • The level crossing at Broadwood has been cleared, we now await the licence to commence work on the reconstruction of the crossing to current standards.


  • Work on the station car park is 30% complete, the old platform has been cleared and work has started on the foundations of the new platform.


  • Work has started on the entrance path to the new platform and also on the road to the new car park. Work should start on the new platform in the week beginning April 6.


  • Tenders are about to be evaluated for the sub base for the new running shed.
  • The site now has round the clock security after several incidents in the last few weeks which have affected the railway and also several other businesses in the area.
  • Work on the rail connection to the main line is  now 98% complete and should be ready for HMRI ( Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate) inspection later this month.


  • We are in the final stages of completing the purchase of the line from Network Rail. Payment has been made and we await completion of the final legal documentation.
  • The Safety Case documentation is with the HMRI awaiting their approval to operate.
  • The Grant Funding for the Main Project is in the final stages of assessment/approval. We hope to have confirmation by the time of the next Progress Report.

          G C Mudd

See new pics in Gallery - Work on Infrastructure.

 23 Mar 2004

Progress Update:


  • The old goods yard area adjacent to the up platform has been completely cleared and resurfaced with tarmac, apart from a small area of hard standing. Parking bays for 20 vehicles are marked out and there is space for a double stack of Portacabins for temporary offices.
  • A loop line is to be laid at the station for run around purposes on the bed of the former down line. The track area for this loop was cleared of vegetation and debris using a scraper ‘mole’ from Railway Performance Ltd and last week ballast laying was completed – ready for rail to be laid.
  • Work has started on the Station building restoration Project – waiting room restoration is the first part of this project.
  • FUTURE PLANS : It is planned to have the Portacabins operational on and from Monday March 29, on which date a new multi-line telephone exchange will be operational, plus a revamped and extended computer network. Work can then start on the remainder of the Station restoration including the reconstruction of the up platform canopy and the rebuilding of the down platform  shelter.


  • FUTURE PLANS : Work is planned to start on this section of track on March 29 – this with the assistance of 13 volunteers from the British Trust for Conservation.


  • Work has started on the car park at this station.


  • FUTURE PLANS : Work is planned to start on the completely new platform at Wolsingham on the 6th April


  • A new security fence has been completed around the WRL site at the Wolsingham steelworks.  Original drainage has been replaced and new drainage installed and the whole site to the west of the old Gunbarrel Shed has been levelled and graded, ready for building and track laying.
  • Portacabin offices are on site and telephone communication installed.
  • FUTURE PLANS :  Work on the sub base for the new three road running shed is planned to start in mid April.
    Work has commenced on the layout of the connection of the Centre trackwork with the main running line.


  • To coordinate and supplement the volunteer effort  the Project now has 18 employees covering the following functions : Purchasing, Accounting, Permanent Way, Depot/Rolling Stock, Structural Design,  Health & Safety,  Stores , Signalling & Telegraph, Civil Engineering, Mechanical & Electrical Engineering, Medical, Track Clearing, Surveying , Marketing and Secretarial.

          G C Mudd

 19 Mar 2004 Another Major Grant Confirmed: 
Yesterday, in a special ceremony  at Stanhope station, attended by Hilary Armstrong MP and Board members of Weardale Railways, an award of just under £1 Million from the Heritage Lottery Fund was confirmed.
 This grant, on top of the earlier announced two stage £1 Million grant from the European Regional Development Fund, means that the total Match Funding requirement of £3 million is close to being achieved.
We hope to have news  about  the final Grant which will complete the Funding package within the next 10 days.
To see the Heritage Lottery Press release click here.
 3 March 2004
 As the final pieces of funding fall in to place (hopefully) and the full Project team gets into place and the new volunteers are trained up, planning for the opening days is commencing. We will try to update you via this website as these plans develop. Here is the first bulletin:
Events  are being planned for the two opening days, Saturday the 17th and Sunday the 18th of July. On the Saturday after an opening ceremony mid morning, and a first train for invited guests ( the funders and big league supporters etc), a special service will operate on both days at a slight Premium to normal prices - this will include a souvenir Brochure and a special opening days ticket etc. Ceremonies are being planned for all three stations  - more on this later. Stanhope will also be the location of other events and facilities in the adjacent field.
Advance publicity for the railway is well in hand - A leaflet is in press and we are already included in the 2004 regional Tourist Board literature - further publicity will be built up as opening day approaches and as confidence rises that we can overcome all the remaining obstacles.
We will need many more volunteers for these and subsequent days - so if you have time to help in any way, please register your willingness via the Trust, contact details on this website - phone, fax or email.
 6 Feb 2004 A Major European Grant Confirmed: The European Regional Development Fund is backing our Project with £200,000 now and hopefully another £800,000 to be confirmed in March. Will a million pounds get the show moving? - You bet it will - for the full press release Click Here


 25 Jan 2004 Another Grant Confirmed: The Northern Rock Foundation, who have already shown their support with a £14,500 grant towards the cost of a small tipper truck, a JCB and a steam cleaner, have also granted the Trust £53,000 for the purchase of an operational steam locomotive for use on the line. A likely vehicle has been located and if satisfacory, it could be in the Wolsingham depot after Easter.


 10 Jan 2004 A Major Grant Confirmed: The County Durham Environmental Trust (CDENT) are helping to kickstart the project by coming on board with funding of £93,500 under the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme (LTCS).
CDENT is one of the first organisations to deliver its financial support to the project and the Weardale Railway now hopes that other organisations will be encouraged to do the same to allow them to fulfil their dream of bringing a heritage steam service back to the area. CDENT’s funding will help to reopen the line and pave the way for the return of the trains, with money ring fenced for track reinstatement in addition to improvements to footpaths, platforms and stations along the route.
John Wearmouth, chairman of CDENT, said: “We are proud to be at the forefront of such an innovative venture which, as well as restoring part of the region’s rich railway heritage, has the potential to give a much needed boost to the local economy. We hope that the funding provided by CDENT will encourage others to assist this project.”


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