Points on the former Penrith-Darlington railway, near Barnard Castle, County Durham, May 2015 | Other Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Points on the former Penrith-Darlington railway, near Barnard Castle, County Durham, May 2015


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Not sure why I didn’t post this explore from back in May 2015. Maybe I thought it didn’t have the ‘wow’ factor. Looking back now at the amount and quality of railway explores currently left in the UK has made me look at it in a slightly different light.

The report documents the most tangible remains of the former Penrith-Darlington railway around the Barnard Castle area. We were having a long Bank Holiday Weekend in Barnard Castle, so it seemed rude not to check these places out. All pretty relaxed explores and enough in their own right to merit a bit of a look-see.

1. Broomielaw Station and Signal Box
Not a vast amount to see here but the station is virtually intact, albeit in a very dilapidated condition. The platform is overgrown by vegetation and trees but the brick and timber station building and the canopy remain. The former covered stairway down from the road above has now long since gone though. The signal box is at the west end of the station along with a number of other small railway-related buildings, alongside the old siding to the north of the station. The station house on the road above the station is a private house. Here's the history.

Broomielaw was originally a private halt on the Darlington and Barnard Castle railway. It was opened on 8th July 1856. It was closed to passengers on 30th November 1964 by British Railways (North Eastern Region). Initially it served as private halt for the influential Bowes-Lyon family who lived in the nearby Streatham Castle. The halt had a single platform situated in a cutting on the up side of the line with the aforementioned covered stairway down from the road above. The halt was also used by children from the local village when catching excursion trains before the station was opened to the public during World War II on 9th June 1942. In 1950 timetable the station boasted seven trains each way. The trip to Darlington took approximately 40 minutes while the journey time to Barnard castle was a mere six minutes. The station had no freight facilities although it did have a siding on the north side of the line, controlled by a signal box to the west of the station. Broomielaw did handle parcels though right up until the final closure of the line on 5th April 1965, as a result of the Beeching railway closures.

Picture of the station and signal box taken on 8th May 1965, shortly after the line's closure:

The signal box is in a rather poor way:

As are the nearby railway-related huts:

As short distance West the platform of Broomielaw Halt appears:

As the undergrowth gives up its secret:

The platform canopy is still intact:

Which is quite amazing for a predominantly wooden structure:

And the odd bit of concrete:

And, of course, the platform itself:

2. The Percy Beck Viaduct
Lying on the section of the line west of Castle Barnard and just west of Castle Barnard itself is the viaduct over Percy Beck. Hidden amongst the trees of Flatts Woods in Barnard Castle, the trains for Stainmore and Middleton-in-Teesdale crossed it as they headed west out of the town's station. The station has been levelled and now plays host an industrial estate. The support pillars have insets that lighten their load. The viaduct was built in 1860, opened in a year later and was in use until the line’s closure in 1964. Flatts Wood is now trying to reclaim the viaduct which currently carries a road over the deep valley to a private farm. Back in 1968, four years after closure, it all looked very different:

In November 1994 the viaduct was awarded a Grade II listing. It is built of rock-faced sandstone with fire-brick arches. It is one of the few remaining bridges on this line.

Here are the pictures:

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3. Lartington signal box

The Lartington West signal box is just clinging to life near the northern abutment of Deepdale Viaduct, at the foot of the steep climb up to Stainmore. The line past to box, built by the South Durham & Lancashire Union Railway, was engineered by Thomas Bouch and was operational from 1861 until 1962. The steps up to the cabin are long gone. When the railway closed BR appears to have boarded up the box and left it. The local farmer who now owns the structure uses it as a store and it has a sturdy looking padlock door so externals only here, I’m afraid. Here are the pictures:

4. Bowes Station
The fifth and final point on the ex-Penrith to Darlington line is the station at Bowes. Four miles west of Barnard Castle, this place has been well-documented in photographs over the years. It’s fair to say that now the former single-story station and station master’s house is fast approaching a pile of rubble. Situated on the South Durham & Lancashire Union Railway between Barnard Castle and Kirkby Stephen East, it served the village of Bowes from 26th March 1861 until its closure 22nd January 1962. Even three years after its closure (in 1965) the buildings looked in a sorry way (photo by Ben Brooksbank):

Ten years later in 1975 the roof was starting to go (photo by John Buckley):

By 1987 its days were numbered (photo by Keith Ward):

Today the up platform survives, albeit in very poor condition, while the main station building, and stationmaster's house are total ruins. One of the two goods sheds still stands, on the opposite platform but is also a roofless shell with trees growing out of it and a large farm building now stands across the track at the east end of the station. Two sets of stone steps up to the station from the road below do however also still remain.

Often when railways close it is the station houses that survive as family homes. Sadly, this didn’t happen with Bowes Station. Who knows why, as it would have made a delightful residence, along similar lines of what happened up the line at Lartington.

Perhaps, then, no surprise it is in the state it is today. Anyhow – here’s the current state of Bowes station:

One of the two sets of steps up to the station:

The ‘up’ platform and station:

One of the two goods sheds remains:

The station is in very poor condition:

In its prime it was a stylish building:

But time is now nearly up:

…as the walls crumble and window-frames fall out:

The fine mullion stone windows at the front make one last stand of defiance:

And the fireplace stands firm for the moment:



28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Have wandered around this area for years so this brings back some very happy memories thanks for posting. I had a feeling there wouldnt be much left of Bowes station it looked pretty bad the last time i saw it about 15 years ago. A great report and well photographed.


Regular User
Never been a spotter but well remember lots of childhood wandering along newly abandoned railways around Lancashire and Cumbria.
All those 'mens' magazines in railway sheds and woodlands. They had great articles about cars and stuff like that in them!
To see how well those signal boxes have survived uncared for is quite amazing really given their utilitarian build. Most modern brick structures won't fare so well as the bricks are now such poor quality they start spalling almost immediately they get soaked.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Amazing, amazing report and pictures. We have nothing like this in the US. Once something is not of use we send in the bulldozers which is why I always remember the years that I was stationed at RAF Lakenheath (79-85) with my cameras. and my moped.

Bikin Glynn

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Amazing, amazing report and pictures. We have nothing like this in the US. Once something is not of use we send in the bulldozers which is why I always remember the years that I was stationed at RAF Lakenheath (79-85) with my cameras. and my moped.
I was birdwatching at Lakenheath a few weeks back ;-)