Tanfield Railway – The World’s Oldest Operational Steam Railway
Travelling on the Tanfield Railway is different from travelling on any other railway. Few steam railways offer the variety and character of scenery, locomotives and rolling stock available here. Most lines offer a trip in B.R.’s 1950s big steel cast off carriages, at Tanfield the carriages are a variety of small four and six wheeled vehicles dating back to the 1880s, with Victorian hardships like wooden seats but the pleasure of opening windows and, if you wish, the choice of a small compartment.
The opening windows and also the balconies on some carriages let you soak up the sound and smell of the small steam engines working hard on the steep gradients. The opportunity to walk around the loco sheds and yards is unusual but extremely interesting. The railway is especially fortunate in the variety of landscape through which it runs, it is a surprise to most people that such attractive rolling farmland and wooded valleys exist only seven miles from the centre of Newcastle
Causey Arch picnic area
Causey Arch, built in 1725-6, is the oldest surviving single-arch railway bridge in the world. It spans the gorge of Causey Burn.
Footpaths through the wooded gorge link the car park and picnic area to the Arch. One path leads down to the valley bottom. This route takes you alongside a massive man-made earth embankment before following the Burn upstream to the Arch, crossing a series of footbridges on the way. An easier alternative route takes you alongside the Tanfield Railway and onto the course of the original wagonway before reaching the Arch.
There is an extensive rights-of-way network linking Causey Arch with the Beamish Valley.
The Tanfield Railway was opened in 1725 and is the world’s oldest operating railway. It was constructed to take coal from Stanley and Marley Hill to the River Tyne. Originally, horses hauled small wagons along wooden track. They were replaced in the 19th century by metal rails and locomotives. The line closed in 1962 but is now being run by a private company assisted by enthusiastic volunteers.
The Tanfield Railway currently operates a passenger service on several miles of track between Sunniside and East Tanfield which calls at Causey Arch. For enquiries about the Tanfield Railway telephone 0191 388 7545 or visit the Tanfield Railway website.
Roll back time and take a romantic journey on the steam locomotives of Tanfield Railway. Built in 1725 it is the oldest still-working railway line in the world, and was a considerable feat of engineering construction when it was built. Today it is run by passionate volunteers who have lovingly restored it to its Victorian heyday. What’s on offer is both entertaining and educational. Visitors can learn about the tough life of the railway workers, admire their tenacious skills, and take a ride on the big steel locomotives as they pound their way through spectacular wooded valleys and past Causey Arch, the oldest railway bridge in the world. Special events, including children’s days are run throughout the year, and trains can be hired for private parties.
Trains run every Sunday and Bank Holiday throughout the year, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays during school summer holidays.