When the railway reached Stanhope in 1862 it became the terminus of the Weardale Railway. In order to extend the line to Wearhead (1895) it was necessary to build a new station nearby on the line of the new extension, so the original building became the goods station. After the closure of the passenger service in 1953 Stanhope station gradually deteriorated and lost its canopy but was eventually purchased and given some structural refurbishment by Wear Valley Council. It is currently used as the headquarters of The Weardale Railway Trust Ltd and is also the registered office of the Weardale Railway Company Ltd. One of the current projects is to totally renovate the station, replacing the canopy and reconstructing the 'down' platform.
Stanhope village is the largest settlement west of Wolsingham. It has an attractive cobbled market place and the historic Church of St. Thomas. Built into the wall here there is a large fossilised tree stump 250 million years old excavated while road building on the moors nearby during the last century. At the west end of the village the ancient Stanhope Old Hall stands near the start of the Stanhope & Tyne Railway track bed. It preceded the Weardale Railway by several years (1834), and was rope-hauled up the valley side using stationary engines. When operational, the nearby branch to Rookhope had the highest section of standard gauge railway in the U.K. at Bolts Law 1670 feet (514m) above sea level.
The original station building situated in Station Road still exists today but is disguised on the edge of the William Cook foundry site. Across the river (back towards Frosterley) there was an engine shed, originally built as a single road, extended to three roads and then later in life cut back to single. During the Second World War, Locomotion No.1 and Derwent were stored in the shed for safekeeping. It is still possible to locate the turntable pit hidden in the undergrowth if you look hard enough.
The main line was extended to Wearhead in 1895 but was impossible to use the
existing station building because of its position. Therefore a new station was built at a cost of £2700.00 heading in a northwesterly
direction. Two platforms were provided through the station, being originally connected by a wooden footbridge, to be later replaced by a
standard North Eastern railway pattern type in 1920.
With the opening of the new line the original station took on the role of being the Goods Station.
Despite losing the passenger traffic in 1953, the goods facility continued until 1st November 1965 when all business was transferred under the control of Bishop Auckland.
In 1988 the newly refurbished platform opened to accommodate an experimental Summer Sunday service, which was an extension of the Darlington to Bishop Auckland Heritage Line service. Station improvements costing £9,000.00 were carried out prior to the introduction of the service, being financed by contributions from Durham County Council and the Heritage Line Group. The service was to prove an outstanding success and was repeated each summer until 1992.
Wear Valley District Council bought the station building from British Rail in 1992. Volunteers from the Weardale Railway Society carried out some initial renovation work before the Council took over and saw the project through to completion in early 1995.
Stanhope Station 2004
|Today the station is
the headquarters of the Weardale Railway Trust who are a voluntary group and of Weardale Railway’s
Limited, the operating company for the ‘Weardale Railway’.
During the running season, the station provides a car park, shop, cafe, ticket office and toilet facilities (including disabled). On the south side platform a display and information centre is being prepared in the reconstructed waiting room.
Stanhope has a good selection of shops (including Post Office and chemist), cafes, public houses and the area Health Centre. It is also the location of the Durham Dales Centre T.I.C. and local crafts, and has an open-air swimming pool in use in the summer months. There are braches of Barclays Bank and HSBC both with "hole-in-the-wall" cash dispensers.
For a printable map showing the exact location of Stanhope Station Click here