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5 stations of Durham

A private booking by a railway aficionado led me to develop a walking tour that investigates the history, location and remaining evidence of the five stations of Durham. Yes indeed, five stations! They are, in date order, Shincliffe 1, Shincliffe 2, Gilesgate, Durham (the existing station) and Elvet.

The very first station was built on the line from Sunderland in 1839 which came via Hetton, Murton and Sherburn House and very little infrastructure can be seen of this early railway. Beyond Shincliffe, the railway continued westwards to service coal mines at Houghall, over a bridge of the river Wear, through a small tunnel and terminated at Low Burn Hall.

In 1841, the master engineer and entrepreneur George Hudson began building the main line from Newcastle to York and at Shincliffe a second station was built, known as Shincliffe Bank Top or Shincliffe York. The remnant line is known as the Leamside line and although the track bed is there, the rails were taking up some years ago. There is ongoing discussion to try and reopen this line as it would service the population of Washington and give extra capacity. Today , Shincliffe Bank Top is a private residence though for many years was a successful restaurant.

In 1844, a branch line from Leamside, was brought in to Durham and terminated at what we call today, Gilegate roundabout. This served for about 13 years until the new main line and Durham viaduct was built. The station and other buildings can be seen today and are used by Travel Lodge and the Little Sicily Restaurant, though some may remember it being Sambuca. Going back even further it was for many a year the builders merchants Archibald’s.

As a passenger line , this station was closed in 1857, though it was used as a goods line until 1966. The reason was quite simple, for in 1857, the Bishop Auckland line came to Durham and over the very impressive 11 arch railway viaduct. Even more impressive is the outstanding vista one has when coming into Durham with the immaculate 11th century cathedral and castle dominating the skyline. Initially a branch line, if you had taken a train southwards in 1857 the first stations would have been Brandon and Brancepeth! It was later that decade that the connection via Tursdale and then north to Chester-Le-street was complete.

The final station to be built was in 1893 when a new line came to Elvet and terminated near the junction of Old, Elvet Green Lane and Whitney Hill. This led to the closure of Shincliffe Town station, although Elvet only really saw regular action up until 1931. It then became a goods line lasting until 1949. However up until 1953, the line was used for a major event, once a year, the day that all miners looked forward to, that is the Miners Gala which even today takes place in the second Saturday in July.

If you would like to come on a guided walk of these stations and a great opportunity to see some hidden gems of Durham then please join me on Saturday 16th December at 2pm. To book your place, contact me here or text me on 07591468066. Cost is just £5 per person. If you cannot make this date but wound like a private tour then again, please do get in contact.

My thanks go to the invaluable books Durham City by David Simpson and Michael Richardson‘s Durham City: Pictures from the past and of course the internet, checkout

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