© The Weardale Museum.
Our story of the Weardale Railways begins with the incredible pioneering age which brought industrial lines over the moors from Tyneside to exploit the mineral deposits in the valleys at Stanhope (1834) and Rookhope (1846). Every conceivable method of haulage from, locomotives, horse power, self acting inclines, cradles and rope haulage by standing engines was employed in the task.
The second phase of railway building 1845-1862 was an extension, up the main valley of the famous Stockton and Darlington line. Again the main reason behind this line was the enormous mineral wealth of Weardale’s limestone quarries. The Wear Valley Act of 1845 enabled the Stockton and Darlington Railway Co. to reach Frosterley in 1847 before eventually extending to Stanhope in 1862.
The last stage “The Wear Valley Extension Railway” constructed between 1893-5 was built in response to an urgent appeal to try to revive the dale’s fortunes after the closure of its lead-mines.
Children’s medals struck to celebrate the cutting of the first sod of the line to Wearhead in 1893.
There are striking resemblances to the situation today, with the re-opening of the Weardale Railway as a tourist line between Bishop Auckland and Stanhope, and the proposed redevelopment of the redundant Eastgate Cement Works site.
The Weardale Railway operates a heritage line at weekends during the summer.