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Gallery 1 > North-East of England > Tanfield Railway, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear

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The Tanfield Railway is a 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge heritage railway in Gateshead and County Durham, England. Running on part of a former colliery wooden wagonway, later a steam railway, it operates preserved industrial diesel and steam tank locomotives. The railway operates a passenger service on Sundays all year round, as well as demonstration freight trains. The line runs 3 miles (4.8 km) between a southern terminus at East Tanfield, Durham, to a northern terminus at Sunniside, Gateshead, with the main station, Andrews House situated near to the Marley Hill engine shed. A halt also serves the historic site of the Causey Arch. The railway claims to be "the world's oldest railway".

 

The early years of the railway as a preservation project concentrated on Marley Hill, preparing locos for steaming, working on the shed structure and acquiring basic needs such as water and electricity. Locomotives No.21 (Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns engine of 1954) and No.5 (Malleable) were steamed in public in 1973. The first passenger train ran for a week August 1975, using locomotives No.21, No.32 and Sir Cecil A Cochrane, and a small carriage acquired from the British Steel Corporation site at Teesside.

 

The preserved line was first built from Marley Hill to the current northern terminus, Sunniside Station, with passenger trains beginning on 2 July 1981, and an official opening ceremony on 14 July 1982. Andrews House station just south of Marley Hill sheds was completed between 1987 and 1989 and was equipped with platforms, a water tower, a station building and a footbridge. The first train south to Causey was on 27 July 1991, with the official opening ceremony being held on 15 August 1991. The first train further south to the current end of the line at East Tanfield occurred on 18 October 1992. East Tanfield Station itself was opened in 1997. The Causey to Tanfield section is through a wood lined gorge.

 

Part of the reason the line was preserved was the fact Marley Hill shed remained open until 1970. The vintage machinery in the workshop is still capable of full locomotive overhauls. The oldest locomotive on the railway was built in Gateshead in 1873, and all of the railway's carriage stock dates from the 19th Century.