5. Newcastle & Carlisle Railway

Obtaining it first Act of Parliament in 1829 the Newcastle & Carlisle was one of the very first railways, the first public railway in Cumbria and the first cross-country route linking the Irish and North Seas. The scheme had it roots back in the canal era when several fruitless proposals had been put forward to link Carlisle with Newcastle from the 1790s onwards. Originally intended for the use of horse traction, steam locomotives were in use from the opening of the first section from Blaydon to Hexham in March 1835. The western end, from Carlisle to Blenkinsop, near Greenhead, was opened on 19th July 1836, with completion of the line throughout from 18th July 1838. An interesting feature or the N&CR was its adoption of right-hand running which lasted until merger with the North Eastern Railway in 1862.

The branch to Brampton long predated the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway having originally been part of the early waggonways which have become known as "Lord Carlisle's Railways", at one time providing a home for Stephenson's "Rocket" before it was preserved in the Science Museum. This network of lines had a complex history, and at one time extended right through to Lambley on the Alston Branch.

The Alston Branch was first mooted in 1841 to go as far as the lead mining centre of Nenthead but the last few miles were not included in the final scheme which was completed in stages during 1851/52. Steeply graded, and with many bridges and viaducts, the line handled quantities of lead, lime and coal. Closure proposals came from the late 1950s onwards, but the branch continued to link remote Alston with the outside world until 1st May 1976, the final rites only being permitted after the construction of a new road. The southern section of the branch has since been reopened as the narrow-gauge South Tynedale Railway.

Openings and Closures

     Hexham to Blaydon 9 March 1835
     Hexham to Haydon Bridge 28 June 1836
     Carlisle to Blenkinsopp Coll (Greenhead) 19 July 1836
     Blaydon to Redheugh (Newcastle) 1 March 1837
     Blenkinsopp Colliery to Haydon Bridge 18 June 1838

Stations (west and south of Haltwhistle only)

     Carlisle London Road closed 1 January 1863
     Scotby closed 2 November 1959
     Wetheral closed 2 January 1967
reopened 5 October 1981
     Heads Nook closed 2 January 1967
     How Mill closed 5 January 1959
     Brampton Junction open
       Brampton Town closed 29 October 1923
     Naworth closed 5 May 1952
     Low Row closed 5 January 1959
     Gilsland closed 2 January 1967
     Greenhead closed 2 January 1967
     Haltwhistle open
       Featherstone Park closed 3 May 1976
       Coanwood closed 3 May 1976
       Lambley closed 3 May 1976
       Slaggyford closed 3 May 1976
       Alston closed 3 May 1976

For further reading see Bibliography

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25 October 2011 DM

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