The Coldstream Branch. The NER branch from Alnwick to Coldstream closed to passengers on 22 September 1930, yet much survives as these photographs by Bob Prigg illustrate. There is some confusion over the branch's name, since it is often referred to as the Cornhill branch, but this is because the station at Coldstream was called Cornhill until 1873. (Coldstream and Cornhill are only 1½ miles apart, but Coldstream has the better public relations thanks to the Coldstream Guards!) The route opened to all traffic in 1887 and initially flourished, but after World War 1 it suffered badly due to competition from cheap and more convenient local buses. Notwithstanding the loss of passenger trains, the branch remained open for agricultural freight traffic until August 1948, when a summer storm severely damaged a bridge between Ilderton and Wooler, thereby splitting the line in two. The section from Alnwick to Ilderton held on until 2 March 1953, while the Coldstream to Wooler section survived until March 1965, when it was axed as part of the Beeching cuts. During the line's freight-only years, old carriages and disused waiting rooms along the line saw seasonal use as self-catering holiday lets.

Above: A track level view of the island station at Whittingham, Northumberland. The building has survived remarkably well considering its 78 years of disuse. March 2008. (Bob Prigg)

Above: A close-up of the platform, showing the elaborate supports for the now missing canopy roof, although the decorative valancing remains in place. March 2008. (Bob Prigg)
Above: The main passageway between the platforms, lined with high quality glazed bricks. The valancing from the canopy can be seen clearly on the far side. March 2008. (Bob Prigg)
Above: A close-up of one of the booking office windows at Whittingham, which are situated in the passageway illustrated above. The glazed and lettered bricks are a remarkable survival. The second ticket window is situated about 8 ft. to the right of this one; the fact that two were installed indicates the NER's high hopes of trade at this remote rural outpost. March 2008. (Bob Prigg)
Above: Ilderton station, viewed from the public highway along the former station drive. Given the remote rural area which it served, all of the stations on the Coldstream branch were large and lavish. Ilderton was formerly the home of Chris Donald, founder and editor of Viz, the adult comic magazine. March 2008. (Bob Prigg)
Above: Wooler station. As can be seen, this building is in the same style as that at Ilderton. Although slightly smaller in scale, the hipped roofs are a common feature. In August 1948, Wooler became the terminus of the line from Coldstream following a bridge collapse between here and Ilderton, brought about by a severe storm and associated flooding. March 2008. (Bob Prigg)
Above: Akeld station, viewed here from the public highway, is the mirror image of Ilderton, although it has retained (or perhaps acquired?) a porch over the main entrance. Once again, this is a huge building for a community that, in the end, delivered so little trade to the railway. March 2008. (Bob Prigg)
Above: It isn't just the old stations, signal boxes, bridges, viaducts and tunnels that survive on the former Coldstream branch. As can be seen, this old road sign still directs passengers to Mindrum station, although anyone arriving there in search of a train will be sorely disappointed. Incidentally, Bob is right when he remarks how much infrastructure survives on this route; apart from the stations illustrated above, he and his team also found three or four signal boxes, plus goods sheds and even stone-built coal staves. We conclude that so much was left behind because the line closed at an early date, i.e. before the railway had adopted a 'scorched earth' policy with regard to land disposals. March 2008. (Bob Prigg)