The Eden Valley and Stainmore Railway was built to carry coal and coke from east to west, and iron ore in the opposite direction. Much is made of this in the early references to the route, and its passenger potential are not mentioned no doubt because of the sparsely populated area through which the Eden Valley Railway passed. It was in 1857 that the South Durham & Lancashire Union Railway was formed with the object of building a line from Bishop Auckland to Barnard Castle and on to Tebay, over the Pennines separating Yorkshire and Westmorland.
The engineer appointed to supervise the construction of the Eden Valley Railway and to design the numerous viaducts was Thomas Bouch, whose brother, William, was Locomotive Superintendent of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. Thomas Bouch later the designed the ill-fated Tay Bridge, for which he received a knighthood on June 27, 1879. six months and a day before the bridge collapsed. The Act for the construction of the Lancashire Union line encountered practically no opposition, and the Royal Assent was granted on July 13, 1857. However, it was necessary to change the route of the Eden Valley and Stainmore Railway slightly between Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle to avoid passing through the game preserves of the Duke of Cleveland. Unless it was diverted, he insisted on a tunnel where it passed through his land, but he must have been friendly to the railway as he cut the first sod at Kirkby Stephen on August 25, only six weeks after the line was authorised.
At a meeting on 13th November 1857 two possible routes were discussed for The Eden Valley Railway, one either side of the River Eden. They finally agreed on a route leaving Kirkby Stephen and turning North into the Eden Valley through Great Musgrave, Warcop, Appleby East, Kirkby Thore, Temple Sowerby and Cliburn before joining the L&NWR at Clifton.
The Route from Barnard Castle - The line immediately crossed over Percy Beck and then the deep valley of the Tees, curved south through Lartington, crossed Deepdale viaduct and turned through 90° to head SW. At Bowes it joined the valley of the River Greta and this was followed along with the Scotch Corner to Penrith road (A66) to the summit at Stainmore. Between Tees viaduct and the bleak Stainmore Summit 1,370ft above sea level the gradient was rarely less than 1 in 69 for thirteen miles. Stainmore was marked by a large metal elevation sign and was provided with up and down running loops and a standard NER signal box. Starting from Kirkby Stephen East Station in the opposite direction initially at 1 in 72 there was an unrelenting 1 in 59/60 for 8 miles. West of Stainmore the line tuned SW to Barras and then made a wide loop to cross the River Belah over the famous Belah Viaduct, the tallest bridge in England, built at a cost of £31,630. Several more viaducts including Redgategill, Merrygill and Podgill were crossed before reaching Kirkby Stephen station which had extensive buildings and an overall roof. On the north side there was a goods yard, cattle dock and engine shed whilst, to the south, a series of goods loops. Take a trip on one of the first diesels over Stainmore Summit in this article from British Railways magazine in 1958 Click Here
The Route from Kirkby Stephen - Half a mile west of Kirkby Stephen East Station (GR763078) it left the Tebay line and turned north to Musgrave where it bridged the River Eden and turned NW. The Eden Valley Railway then passed through Warcop and Appleby East all the way to Temple Sowerby. At Appleby the Midland’s S&C line comes in from the south and the two stations were adjacent. Leaving Appleby it passed under the MR line and at Temple Sowerby, after crossing the Eden, swung west and started to climb with the next five miles to Clifton Moor at 1 in 100/80 finally joining the West Coast Main Line at Eden Valley Junction (GR537265). The Redhills Curve avoiding line diverged from the WCML at Eamont Bridge Junction (GR507283) bridged the Penrith - Stainton road passed, under the CK&P then ran west alongside it for half a mile before joining it at Red Hills Junction (GR495285). Have a look at the Crowther maps of the railway line Click Here
Excellent sources for information on the line are the two books The Eden Valley Railway - Robert Western and The Stainmore & Eden Valley Railways - Peter Walton
Please help support The Stainmore Railway Company restore the former Kirkby Stephen East Station
Many thanks to everyone who helped with information and photos for the website Bibliography