From the junction with the A689 at Stanhope, the B6278 ascends nearly 800 feet in just over 1.5 miles – it is steep.  Climbing north through Crawleyside to Weatherhill, where even the Speed Twin demands a downshift, the one thing you are not thinking is – “what a grand place this would be to build a railway”.

And yet, in the 1830s, this is precisely what was done in order to ship limestone and other raw materials for iron ore production in the northeast and beyond. Rope worked inclines were assisted by beam engines sited at Crawleyside and Weatherhill.  According to the North Pennines Virtual Museum

… the beam engines at Weatherhill and Crawley were part of the 1834 Stanhope and Tyne Railway, one of the first railways in the country, constructed to transport lime from the Stanhope kilns to the many lime depots located at strategic points all the way to South Shields. Its construction presented fantastic difficulties to overcome the rugged terrain and all means of power available were used to haul the cargo of lime from the kilns at Stanhope. Locomotives, horse power, self-acting inclines, cradles and rope haulage by standing engines were all employed in the task. The inspiration behind this railway was Westoe Wallis, a colliery owner from Medomsley in North West Durham. T E Harrison was the engineer and Robert Stephenson was the consultant engineer.

The Crawley incline was only 934 yards in length but by using grades of 1 in 8 and 1 in 12 it gained some 327 feet of vertical height. The haulage engine at Crawley was of 50 h.p. designed by George Stephenson and made by Hawks & Co., with a 2ft. 4in. diameter cylinder and 6ft. stroke.

Wagons were still faced with the long upward haul to the crest of the bleak moorland plateau at Weatherhill. This incline no less than I mile 128 yards in length had grades of 1 in 12 and was exposed to the mercy of the weather. The haulage engine at Weatherhill was another 50 hp. non-condensing engine by Hawks, again with a 2ft. 4in. diameter cylinder but a 5ft. stroke. Together with two winding drums 9ft. in diameter, this was located in a lofty stone edifice on the summit. This incline was on the three rail principle with a passing loop, and wagons were raised and lowered in sets of four or six which balanced up well with the shorter Crawley incline where the rule was for only two or three wagons per set.

The Weatherhill beam engine is now at the York Railway Museum, but at its original site, virtually no evidence remains, other than the Waskerley Way footpath that follows the line of the Stanhope and Tyne Railway. However, at Weatherhill summit, to the east of the main road, a line of vertical sleepers have been erected – at one time they presumably acted as a snow barrier. I like to think they were lifted from the nearby incline:

The Sleepers

The Speed Twin facing north

Looking south, giving some idea of the incline

The sleepers


  1. restlessjo · 23 Days Ago

    Love the black and white sleepers shot, Robin. As they say… needs must!

    • northumbrianlight · 23 Days Ago

      Thanks Jo – trust all is well with you and yours. As you will have gathered, I have been neglecting WordPress again – too many other things going on.

      • restlessjo · 23 Days Ago

        That’s usually good news, Robin 🤗🩵

  2. Chris Barker · 23 Days Ago

    I can imagine the steepness of that incline, Robin. And I can imagine how chilly was the ride on a bike without fairing!

    • northumbrianlight · 23 Days Ago

      It was a viscous cold wind CB – quite painful across my forehead – I was pleased to down to lower levels again.

      • Chris Barker · 23 Days Ago

        Yes, the viscous winds tend to be the worst, and the thickest 🙂

      • northumbrianlight · 23 Days Ago

        The very worst sort – as a flyer, you will know about these things 😀

  3. Chris Barker · 23 Days Ago

    Some incline, Robin. And I bet it was chilly on a bike without a fairing in this weather.

    • Chris Barker · 23 Days Ago

      Sorry for the double comments. My first one didn’t appear on the logged in page initially.

      • northumbrianlight · 23 Days Ago

        No worries CB – I don’t get that many these days as I have been neglecting WordPress for some time now 😉

  4. Sue · 23 Days Ago

    Love the atmospheric black & white sleepers, Robin

    • northumbrianlight · 23 Days Ago

      Thanks Sue – trust all is well. As you will have noticed, I have been neglecting WordPress of late – very busy elsewhere.

      • Sue · 23 Days Ago

        Well, hope we’ll see you now and again!

  5. Aviationtrails · 23 Days Ago

    Engineering at its best. When faced with seemingly impossible odds, engineers will always find a way. Great photos as always.

    • northumbrianlight · 17 Days Ago

      Many thanks re the photos. Some remarkable industrial archaeology in this area but virtually no evidence remains.

  6. cyclemasterron · 18 Days Ago

    Great article and photos.
    I’ve ridden up Crawleyside on my 50cc Puch moped and it’s steep!
    Have you visited the Brusselton where there was a stationary engine?

    • northumbrianlight · 17 Days Ago

      Many thanks for the generous comments. That must have been quite a struggle for the Puch – you must weigh much less than me 😉 Thanks also for the Brusselton reference – I haven’t been there but will now. Intrigued by this and the incline –

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s