Alnwick branch line

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Alnwick Branch Line
Locale Northumberland
North east England
Dates of operation 1850 – 1968
Successor line North Eastern Railway
Line length 2 34 miles (4.4 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
UK road A1068.PNG
railway overbridge demolished
UK road A1.PNG
bypass cutting through former line
Alnwick Lionheart
Aln Valley Railway
Heritage railway
Cawledge Viaduct over Cawledge Burn
Alnmouth National Rail
East Coast Main Line

The Alnwick branch line was a railway line in Northumberland, northern England. It ran from Alnmouth railway station, on the East Coast Main Line, to the town of Alnwick, a distance of 2 34 miles (4.4 km).

It opened on 5 August 1850 to both freight and passenger traffic; passenger operations included direct Newcastle to Alnwick services, as well as regular shuttle runs between Alnmouth and Alnwick. As late as 1966, some of the Alnmouth to Alnwick shuttles were operated by steam locomotives.


All Newcastle-Alnwick services and some local trains were taken over by diesel multiple units from 21 April 1958, with schedules cut by up to 15 minutes.[1]


It was closed in January 1968 on cost grounds. The old embankment after the line had crossed the A1 road now forms the rear boundary of some of the gardens on the Royal Oak Gardens residential development.

Preservation and revival[edit]

The first preserved steam service

The Aln Valley Railway is a project to reopen the old branch line in stages from a new terminus station in Alnwick back to Alnmouth, managed by the Aln Valley Railway Trust, a registered charity.[2] The first stage is complete with the construction of the new Alnwick Lionheart Station. This was made necessary by the unavailability of the original site and new buildings on some of the trackbed into the town centre. The second stage of connecting the new station site to the original trackbed began in October 2015.[3]

Planning permission was granted by Northumberland County Council on 1 July 2010, the lease for the site signed on 22 February 2012 and the site opened to visitors five months later on 14 July. The first train (an engineer's train) ran on 3 November 2012.[4]

The new site opened to visitors in the summer of 2012 to demonstrate the ongoing work alongside exhibits of rolling stock as well as an indoor exhibition area, cafe, souvenir shop and model railway. The first operating season followed in 2013 culminating in the first trial steam service on 10 September. The railway was formally opened by the Duke of Northumberland on 30 October 2013.

The new built "Alnwick Lionheart" terminus of the Aln Valley Railway. The A1 Alnwick bypass passes the site in a cutting immediately beyond the far boundary fence. 27 September 2015.

The new "Alnwick Lionheart" station site at Alnwick is on a different site from the original Alnwick station due to the A1 dual carriageway being built across the original trackbed after the 1968 closure. Between April 2000 and November 2014 the Aln Valley Railway also had a presence at Longhoughton goods yard, used for the temporary storage of stock and preparation work prior to obtaining the Lionheart site.

Rolling stock[edit]

Steam locomotives[edit]

  • Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T no. 9 "Richboro", built in 1917. Operational
  • Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST no. 3799 "Penicuik", built in 1935. Stored undercover at Lionheart. Undergoing cosmetic restoration.

Diesel locomotives[edit]

  • Drewry 0-6-0DM no. 8199 "Drax", built in 1963. Operational.
  • Andrew Barclay 0-6-0 no. 615, built in 1977. Operational and on loan (private owner). This was the final surface locomotive to work for the National Coal Board.
  • British Rail Class 11 0-6-0 no. 12088 "Shirley", built in 1951. Operational. Undergoing major overhaul (April 2017). Also requires minor body work before being repainted into BR black.
  • Ruston and Hornsby 0-4-0 no. S518256, built in 1948. Pending major restoration.
  • Ruston and Hornsby 0-4-0 no. L2, built in 1952. Requiring major works. Currently on display at the entrance of the Lionheart site.


Point Coordinates
Western end – Alnwick railway station 55°24′36″N 1°41′56″W / 55.41000°N 1.69889°W / 55.41000; -1.69889 (Western portal)
Approx. midpoint 55°24′02″N 1°40′17″W / 55.40056°N 1.67139°W / 55.40056; -1.67139 (Approx. mid-point)Coordinates: 55°24′02″N 1°40′17″W / 55.40056°N 1.67139°W / 55.40056; -1.67139 (Approx. mid-point)
Lionheart railway station complex 55°24′08″N 1°41′11″W / 55.40222°N 1.68639°W / 55.40222; -1.68639 (Lionheart railway station under construction)
Eastern end – Alnmouth railway station 55°23′47″N 1°38′28″W / 55.39639°N 1.64111°W / 55.39639; -1.64111 (Eastern end - Alnmouth railway station)



  1. ^ Railway Magazine June 1958 p. 432
  2. ^ Charity Commission. THE ALN VALLEY RAILWAY TRUST), registered charity no. 1063332. 
  3. ^ Aln Valley Railway Trust[full citation needed]
  4. ^ Branch Line News (1174): 420/12. 8 Dec 2012. 


External links[edit]