Prior to 1894, the line through Leadgate was single track and, with the opening of the new line from Ouston Junction to Annfield Plain and the subsequent introduction of a passenger service to Annfield Plain, it quickly became a bottleneck so, in May 1894, the North Eastern Railway invited tenders to widen the line from Annfield Plain to Consett to double track.
Initially, the Consett Iron Company objected on the basis that the introduction of a passenger service on the line would interfere with the Iron Company’s rail traffic. Having accepted a tender for the work from AJ Cooke of Stockton for £11,887.36, no time was wasted and the work began in August 1894 and was completed in August 1896 and the Newcastle – Annfield Plain passenger service was extended to Blackhill via Leadgate and Stanley.
A school at Brooms, just outside Leadgate, did make a claim for land taken and ‘severance and injurious affectation’ due to the work for £1,475. The NER originally approved compensation of £150 which a jury later increased to £220.
The station at Leadgate was on the north side of St Ives Road (the main road through the village) and was opened by the North Eastern Railway Company on 17 August 1896. In 1923, as part of the Grouping, it became part of the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) then, in 1948, after the nationalisation of the railways, passed to the ownership of British Railways (BR). The station was built on an embankment that also took the line over the Roman Road of Watling Street (known as Durham Road by the locals) and, further through the village, over West Street.
As shown in the period photographs and postcards further down the page, the station consisted of two wooden platforms with the main station buildings on the Newcastle bound platform with Consett bound passengers getting a simple shelter all constructed, as was the North Eastern Railway standard on the line, from timber with brick chimneys, slated roofs and glass verandas. The Consett bound platform was also the site of Leadgate Signal Box which controlled access to the goods yard.
The National Coal Board (NCB) and Consett Iron Company (CIC) had running rights over the lines through Leadgate between Eden Colliery just outside the village and the steelworks. Between East Castle and the Jolly Drovers was South Medomsley Signal Box and the junction to South Medomsley Colliery which closed in 1962 after it was merged underground with Eden colliery.
At the west end of the village the line branched north at Bradley Crossing to Derwent Colliery and Medomsley Colliery. The line also branched to the NCB Bradley Workshops which were right next to the cricket ground. Carrhouse goods station and coal depot was located at the junction with the Medomsley branch, this had been a short lived passenger station from 1 July 1858 to 1 October 1868.
After the station was demolished, some of the larger timbers from the structure were left behind and have, subsequently, been incorporated in to newer buildings in the village or used to make furniture.
The tracks through the village were lifted in September 1984.
The station issued 56,673 tickets in 1898, 71,975 in 1903 and 67,733 in 1913 becoming the only station on the line to issue fewer tickets in 1913 than in 1903 with total receipts in 1913 of £2,146.
The introduction of the local bus services in the early 1920s run by the Venture bus company proved to be the death knell for passenger services not just for Leadgate but for all stations on the line. In 1931 Venture buses operated between Consett and Newcastle (via Rowlands Gill) every twenty minutes, including Sundays, whilst Northern bus 33 provided a half-hourly service via Leadgate and Burnopfield. Further Northern buses (service 11 via Rowlands Gill and 29 via Whickham) also plied between Consett and Newcastle once an hour. This intensive service was a sharp contrast to the railway service of around a dozen trains on weekdays, and two on Sundays.
The station closed to passengers, like the other stations on the line on 23 May 1955. Local excursion trains to the coast did run for a short time after this as evidenced by the photo further down the page of a passenger train at the station in September 1955.
Prior to the construction of the station, at the west end of the village was Carrhouse Goods Station as shown in the 1895 map further down the page.
Like most of the stations on the line, Leadgate had a small goods yard consisting, originally, of three sidings on the northern side of the line leading towards Newcastle albeit, by 1947, the shortest siding next to the Newcastle bound platform had been removed as had two small buildings at the rear of the yard as well as the headshunt that ran parallel to the main lines towards the east.
Goods traffic at Leadgate in 1899 (excluding major minerals such as coal, coke, lime and limestone) consisted of 1,445 tons sent and 6,450 tons received. As with the other stations on the line, the goods traffic lasted nine years longer than passenger traffic, being finally withdrawn on 10 August 1964.
There were four railway bridges in Leadgate, the first, at the Jolly Drovers public house took the railway over the A692 road, the next took the railway over Watling Street followed by a bridge taking the railway over West Street before a road bridge took the A692 over the railway at the west end of the village.
All the bridges were demolished in the late 1980s following the closure of the line with the exception of the road bridge at the west end of the village which survived until 2016 resulting, ironically, in the road out of the village to Consett following, for a short distance at least, the path of the old track bed.
At East Castle, a bridge (still standing) took the line over Stoney Heap Lane and a further, small bridge, took the line over a subway next to Our Lady and Saint Joseph Catholic Church Brooms, next to Eden Colliery.
Maps of Leadgate
Leadgate in 1895 prior to the building of the station with the railway through the village still a single line. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.