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  Barnard Castle Station

From 1861 until the withdrawal of the town's last passenger service, at the end of November 1964, Barnard Castle was served by the station built by the South Durham & Lancashire Union Railway and much extended during its first fifteen years. 'Barney' was a railway crossroads, with lines heading off in four directions, with the final layout being a classic one-sided station with a single through platform and a bay either end.

Station designs for the SDLU were supplied by their Engineer, Thomas Bouch, but created for him by the Edinburgh architect Hector Heatley Orrock (1831-62). A typical station was a mildly Tudor-revival design of just one storey, comprising an open-fronted waiting shed flanked by an office wing and the stationmaster's house. At Barnard Castle, no house was required since the stationmaster continued to live in one some distance away, purchased by the Darlington & Barnard Castle Railway. The station was therefore a picturesque but modest affair with gabled office wings flanking the waiting area. This was soon deemed inadequate for a junction station serving a town of some importance in an area where inclement weather was not unknown.

The SDLU was merged into its parent S&D in 1862, and the following year saw radical improvements underway to the design of William Peachey, the S&D Architect. By the time these were finished, around June 1864, the S&D in turn had been absorbed into the North Eastern Railway.

Barnard Castle station c1970. The central vestibule began life as Hector Orrock's waiting area, while the gables immediately flanking it belong to his office/waiting rooms. The outer gables, with their twin windows, belong to the 1863 Peachey extension.

Peachey extended the office range in a sympathetic manner, providing a much greater range of facilities, including a refreshment room. Behind the gabled frontage in the view above can be seen a long roof sweeping continuously over the side wings of the office building and, in the middle, covering a quite spacious concourse. From this one entered a trainshed with a pitched roof borne on curved cast-iron ribs. The arrangement anticipated on a modest scale the sequence of grand spaces which he would create at Middlesbrough Station a dozen years later. The resemblance extended down to the provision of a handsome arcade, with cast-iron columns and mildly gothic spandrel panels, to separate the shed and concourse.



Elevation and plan showing Peachey's first phase of extensions to Barnard Castle Station. The green shading, depicting the area of the original 1861 building may slightly under-estimate its extent. 

The platform layout conformed to the S&D preference for a single platform accessible to all the facilities, something of particular value in a junction station such as 'Barney'. Thus there was a through platform for the Darlington and Kirkby Stephen trains and a bay for the terminating service from Bishop Auckland. At either end of the trainshed were additional stretches of steeply-gabled platform roof.

The introduction of a passenger service to Middleton in Teesdale, in 1868, meant that a further bay platform was required. At some point, therefore, the through platform was lengthened and also widened to take in the site of the Bishop Auckland track, two new bays being formed on the opposite (south) side of the platform. In 1875 the west platform, outside the main shed, was given a glazed ridge & furrow verandah supplied by Walter MacFarlane, whose Saracen Foundry exported its products all over the world. A plan to do the same at the east end was never implemented but that end retained the gabled 1860's platform roof instead.

A period view of the west end, with a train for Middleton in Teesdale waiting in the bay platform. The scale of the verandah roof seems more reminiscent of contemporary Midland practice than the big roofs which would be favoured by William Bell when he became NER Architect.


In 1907 the NER built a new house for the stationmaster, a detached villa somewhat closer to the railway than his former residence. All the station subsequently received in the way of enhancement was a rather clumsy platform roof of steel joists, taking the place of the handsome verandah seen above. By the 1960's the writing was on the wall. The Stainmore route to Kirkby Stephen closed in January 1962 and the line from Bishop Auckland in June. This just left the route from Darlington to Middleton, where there were extensive limestone quarries. This lost its passenger service at the end of November 1964 and closed completely the following April. The station was left to moulder away gently before being demolished in the closing part of 1971 and early 1972.

View into the trainshed from the concourse after closure. The wooden platform barrier makes a rather crude contrast with the spandrel brackets, in which the age-old motif of diminishing circles is given a gothic touch by the use of cusping.






© W. Fawcett, 2011