South Tynedale Railway

From Wikishire
Jump to: navigation, search
South Tynedale Railway

Northumberland, Cumberland

Narrow gauge Polish engine at new home on South Tyndale Railway.jpg
Polish locomotive Nakło at Kirkhaugh Station
Gauge: 2 feet
Grid reference: NY696495
Location: 54°50’24"N, 2°28’26"W
No. of stations: 3
Track: 3½ miles
Owned by: South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society

The South Tynedale Railway is a preserved, two-foot narrow gauge heritage railway in Northumberland and Cumberland.

The route runs from Alston in Cumberland to Lintley in Northumberland by way of the South Tyne, Gilderdale and Whitley Viaducts. It is Britain's highest narrow gauge railway.

The railway is operated by a charity, The South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society, which was registered in 1983.

Passenger trains operate on the railway Spring through to Autumn and attract 40,000 people to the district every year. Special trains operate including Santa Special trains on certain days in December each year. Although no Santa trains ran in 2011 as volunteer efforts were put into completing the extension to Lintley in time for the 2012 season, they ran again in 2012 on two successive weekends, 15–16 and 22–23 December. In 2013 Santa trains ran on 14–15 and 21–22 December.

At Alston station there is a café and gift shop both operated by the railway company. Free car and coach parking is available adjacent to the station which is located about a quarter of a mile north of the town on Hexham road.


The present line is now currently more than three and a half miles in length, crossing the county border, and there are plans to extend the line by a further mile and a quarter to Slaggyford. The South Tynedale Railway is built on the southern end of the track bed of the disused standard gauge Haltwhistle to Alston Branch Line, which formerly connected with the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway at Haltwhistle.

The popular South Tyne Trail shares the trackbed with the railway, fenced off for safety. It is a walking and cycle trail that provides a cut-off for part of its length for the Pennine Way national trail.

The standard gauge branch line was closed down by British Rail on 1 May 1976 and the track bed is mostly intact. Exceptions: at Lambley where the station house and garden are in private ownership: near Haltwhistle where construction of the A69 Haltwhistle by-pass road severed the trackbed on the bypass itself and on an adjoining secondary road. The Society has in its principal aims a hope to completely reopen a branch line railway to Haltwhistle.

Signalling Infrastucture

The signal box was dismantled when British Rail closed the branch so a new box had to be sought and erected. The replacement signal box at Alston formerly stood at Ainderby, on the branch line to Redmire, it being acquired from British Rail and re-erected on a new brick base. The level crossing barriers and mechanism came from the now-closed How Mill station on the Newcastle and Carlisle line.

The signal box houses a 21 lever frame, made by McKenzie and Holland. In addition there is a manually operated gate machine to operate the level crossing barriers - this combination of manual gate wheel and lifting barriers (rather that gates) being somewhat rare in the United Kingdom. The frame has had a chequered life as it was constructed for the Highland Railway by McKenzie and Holland and first installed at Kingussie. It was removed in 1926 when a replacement level crossing mechanism was installed in an emergancy. The frame had developed a crack and had to be sent to be repaired by Westinghouse who had taken over McKenzie and Holland in 1920. The frame was then installed on the North Staffordshire Section of the London Midland & Scottish when a road at a level crossing was realigned to cross the railway. The old frame with the gate mechanism at this box was inadequate because of worn bearings so the repaired spare frame from Kingussie was installed by Westinghouse. It remained in service until the North Staffordshire signal box closed. The frame was sold to the South Tyndale railway and installed at its present location.

The signals are standard British Rail ones using a former LMS design but the signal to the carriage sidings is unusual. It is a semaphore ground signal mounted onto a conventional signal post.


  • Naklo – Polish built 0-6-0 No. 10 of 1957 - undergoing overhaul.
  • Helen Kathryn – private owner Henschel & Son 0-4-0T No. 14 of 1948 - stored awaiting overhaul.
  • Thomas Edmondson – Henschel 0-4-0T No. 6 of 1918 - in ticket and operational, returned to service in 2006.
  • Carlisle – Hunslet Engine Company 0-4-2T No. 16 of 1937 – stored awaiting restoration – funding in place to send to works for full overhaul and return to traffic by 2016.
  • Barber – Thomas Green & Son 0-6-2 No. 441 of 1908 – in ticket and operational, restoration completed in 2015.
  • 740 - Orenstein & Koppel 0-6-0T No. 2343 of 1907 - stored awaiting overhaul.
  • Diesel Naworth Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0DM No. 4 of 1952 – operational.
  • Diesel Hunslet 0-4-0DM No. 9 of 1952 – operational.
  • Diesel Cumbria Hunslet 4wd No. 11 of 1967 – operational.
  • Diesel Old Rusty Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0DM No. 18 of 1961 – operational.

Passenger rolling stock

Trains are made up daily depending on predicted passenger numbers. There are four all-steel open-ended gallery coaches built by a contractor in Alston, two wooden-bodied coaches and two brake vans constructed in the railway workshops. Additions to the fleet in 2011 were an all-steel buffet coach, originally built by Gloucester Carriage and Wagon for Sierra Leone Railways, and re-gauged from 750mm to 610mm for use at Alston, and a re-gauged former Romanian steel coach now converted to be fully accessible for disabled passengers.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about South Tynedale Railway)