4 Aug 2023
4 Aug 2023
Description (or HER record listing)
NEHL - Almost the entirety of this mid 19th century waggonway is walkable. The first section of the line likely opened just after the sinking of the A Pit in 1836, coinciding with the opening of the Durham to Sunderland line in 1837. A year after this the Leamside Line opened, providing further access to the staiths at the Wear. First edition Ordnance Survey maps imply the Leamside Line was constructed above the Whitwell Branch to the Durham and Sunderland, with part of this branch being double track. Sidings and a spur linked to the Leamside Line eastwards. The Durham and Sunderland Line was constructed out of the remnants of the Old Durham Waggonway, with the pit at Broom Hill being its terminus.
The waggonway further extended southwards in 1838 with the opening of the B Pit, while C Pit just north east opened in 1855. Around a decade and a half later the line connected with the pre-existing waggonway through Cassop Vale, providing a southern link to Thornley Colliery and the Sunderland to Hartlepool Railway.
By the 1890s, over 90% of this railway didn't survive. A small stub remained at the site of Whitwell Colliery A Pit connected to the Leamside Line. The link from Whitwell Grange to Sherburnhouse had severed at least a decade prior.
This is an incredibly special line to traverse. For a waggonway that closed 150 years ago, earthworks and embankments are evident round every turn. The alignments are still enclosed, while the seperation between fields makes for a pleasant walk from Whitwell Grange to Cassop. Please be mindful that cattle free roam parts of the waggonway, and thanks to the thin and narrow enclosure alternative routes may be necessary. A number of pit heaps and old colliery sites are still free to walk around too, namely at Cassop Vale.
The ground is uneven and overgrown at points. If you are a comfortable walker and feel safe around cattle, when this is certainly one of the best waggonway walks i've experienced. It's worth starting around the Sherburnhouse area and making your way south over the Leamside Line.
Ordnance Survey, 1861
The earthworks can be clearly seen here from A Pit to B Pit and C Pit, 2023
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The best preserved section is seen here, betweem A Pit and B Pit, 2023
Historic Environment Records
Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past
Tyne and Wear: Sitelines
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