Morpeth & Rothbury Branches John Speller's Web Pages Morpeth & Rothbury Branches

John Speller's Web Pages - North British Railway
Morpeth & Rothbury Branches
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Reedsmouth to Morpeth

The Wansbeck Railway (affectionately known as the "Wannie Line") was chartered on 8 August 1859 to build a single track railway through the Wansbeck Valley from Reedsmouth on the Border Counties Railway to Morpeth. The Engineer was John Furness Tone (1822-1881), also the Engineer of the Border Counties Railway, and the Resident Engineer was William George Laws (1836-1904). On 23 July 1862 the line opened as far as Scotsgap, but by 1863 the company had run out of money and was forced to amalgamate with the North British Railway, who completed the line and opened it to Reedsmouth on 1 May 1865. The Blyth & Tyne Railway, the only line on this part of the East Coast that had hitherto managed to maintain its independence from the North Eastern Railway, ran from Morpeth and served Blyth, Tynemouth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Whitley Bay among other places. There was some hope that the Blyth & Tyne Railway would eventually come under the control of the North British Railway rather than the North Eastern. The Blyth & Tyne Railway maintained a separate station at Morpeth, and the Wansbeck Railway chose to run into the Blyth & Tyne terminus rather than the North Eastern Railway's station on the East Coast Main Line, despite the fact that this created the inconvenience of having to back in and out of the station at Morpeth. However this was so inconvenient that in 1872 the North British Railway threw in the towel, built a connecting curve and began using the North Eastern Railway's station. Two years later the North Eastern Railway absorbed the Blyth & Tyne. Passenger service was withdrawn from the Reedsmouth to Morpeth line on 13 September 1952. Goods traffic east of Woodburn was withdrawn on 9 November 1963, and the final section between Reedsmouth and Woodburn closed on 29 September 1966. A video of the line between Woodburn and Morpeth may be seen here.

Roxbury Branch

The Northumberland Central Railway was chartered by an Act of 1863 to build a line from Scotsgap on the Wansbeck Railway to Ford on the North Eastern Railway's Berwick to Kelso line, with a short branch to Cornhill. Funds were short, however, and the section of the line beyond Roxbury was abandoned under an Act of 1867. The line from Scotsgap to Rothbury opened on 19 October 1870, and merged with the North British Railway in 1872. A serious accident occurred just south of Longwitton on 3 July 1870, when a train derailed and fell down the embankment. The rear guard and three passengers were killed, and 25 were injured. Passenger service was withdrawn on 13 September 1952, with complete abandonment following on 9 November 1963.

Map of the Reedsmouth to Morpeth and Scotsgap to Rothbury lines of the North British Railway
Scotsgap station in around 1905
Fontburn station on the Rothbury Branch in around 1905. The locomotive is No. 158 "North Berwick," one of Dugald Drummond's "R" Class 0-6-0 tanks (LNER Class "J-82"), which were an enlarged version introduced in 1875 of Stroudley's famous Brighton "Terriers"
Angerton station on the Wansbeck Railway in a postcard view of circa 1905
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