Etherley Incline

NGR NZ186399

The S&DR directors arranged for a horse drawn bus service to connect with the southern railhead of the Durham Junction Railway at Rainton Meadows, some 5 miles from the centre of Durham. They even employed a man at Darlington Station, to meet passengers and try to persuade them to make use of this service for their journey northwards. By November 1843, the line had been extended from South Church all the way to Crook, serving Bishop Auckland on the way. It also provided a new means of access to the Phoenix Park Pit area of Etherley, obviating the need for the original inclines and thus allowing the coal to be taken by locomotives via Bishop Auckland.

The principal colliery at Witton Park lay about 450 feet up, near the Wear valley to the West of Bishop Auckland. The shortest route would have to rise to a summit level of some 650 feet at High Etherley, and then descend nearly 300 feet to cross the valley of the River Gaunless, a minor tributary of the Wear, near St Helen Auckland. It must then rise again to 450 feet to Brusselton summit before descending again to Shildon, near the later settlement of New Shildon, where locomotive working could begin. Thus four cable-worked inclines were needed west of Shildon, where the workshops were established, and later designed and built. The Etherley Incline was part of the transport development of the coal in the South West Durham Coal Fields as before only 1,000's of tons were moved. After the introduction of the Stockton and Darlington Railway this freight was measured in millions of tons. So the movement of coal from the South Durham Coal Fields resulted in passenger railways being introduced to the works (a bye product of the movement of coal). The Etherley Incline was used from 1825 till 1840's