Narrow Gauge Pleasure

The South Tynedale Railway

The Railway Today

In the North of England the Cumbrian countryside boasts a blend of rugged hills, high moorland and secluded valleys making it an attractive area for tourists, although, mercifully, it is not as overcrowded as some of the tourist honey pots of Britain. In the midst of this natural splendour lies the south Tynedale railway a 2' gauge railway of fairly recent origin and 2 and a half miles or so in length.

The main station at Alston boasts a shop and tourist information centre while a cafe and model railway exhibition, independent of the railway, are also on site. The railway runs through the beautiful Cumbria countryside via Gilderdale Halt to Kirkhaugh which is a secluded spot with no road access although it is the starting point for many interesting walks.

The railway sports a small but interesting collection of steam with two German locomotives as well as a fascinating example of Polish roigin, rebuilt in the UK to produce a very good looking machine. Two Hunslet built locomotives are more recent in construction than the usual quarry saddle tank Hunsletts found on British narrow gauge railways and are unusual and interesting because of that.

Passenger stock is all built to the railways own designs with a blend of coaches built on site and others whose construction was undertaken by a local company.

History and Origins

In 1973 BR were about to close the Alston to Haltwhistle branch of the Newcastle to Carlisle railway. A group of local people formed The South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society with a view to buying the line and operating it in preservation. Regrettably the attempt was unsuccessful and BR closed the line and immediately lifted the track in 1976. In 1977 The preservation society decided to build a narrow gauge railway on the site, construction of which finally commenced in 1980, after three years hard work by the volunteers a three quarter mile stretch to a temporary terminus was opened in 1983.

In 1987 the railway was extended to Gilderdale halt giving one and a half miles of passenger running. Subsequent extension to Kirkhaugh brought the line to the state we see it today with two and a quarter miles of useful running. The society has no intention to rest on its laurels as plans are afoot to extend to Lintley and then Slaggyford giving a five mile run, then, possibly, even further.

Comments on this Railway

Add your comment on this railway.

John   27 Aug 2012
This line has great potential as a tourist attraction and could open up some of the north's as yet untapped scenic resources.
K. Thompson   27 Jul 2012
I would just like to say what a friendly and well run railway this is. The scenery along the line is breathtaking and this railway is well worth a visit.
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