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This line opened in 1861 to take coke from Durham to the ironworks of Cumberland. It ran from Spring Garden Junction to Tebay. It linked the Stockton and Darlington Railway near Bishop Auckland with the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway at Tebay, via Barnard Castle, Stainmore Summit and Kirkby Stephen. The final section was opened two years later.
At Stainmore Summit it reached 1,370ft and trains were often held for bad weather.
1861 Newspaper Report 
'OPENING OF THE SOUTH DURHAM & LANCASHIRE UNION RAILWAY.
This railway is opened today. A Train starts in the morning from Darlington, with the Directors and their friends, and returns to Darlington in the afternoon, where the opening dinner takes place.
'The total length of the line is 47 1/2 miles, and of this length a distance of 35 miles is opened to-day, namely from the junction with the Stockton and Darlington Bailway at Barnard Castle to Tebay, on the Lancaster and Carlisle Bailway.
The objects of the line may be briefly stated, namely, to connect the ports of the German Ocean with those of the Irish Sea to unite the manufacturing districts of Durham, Northumberland, and Cleveland with those of Lancashire and the West; to promote the development of the Iron and Coal Trade of the East, and the Iron Mining and Iron Trade of North Lancashire and Cumberland ; to form a main line of railway on the south-east of Westmorland; to open the population of the east to the attractions of the Lake District, and to the people of the west, the great resorts for Sea Bathing on the East Coast.
'Within the last quarter of a century, several efforts have been made by projects across this portion of the North to effect these objects, and some received Parliamentary sanction; but from one cause or another their aims were not accomplished. The first attempt to organize a Provisional Directory for the present line took place on the 20th of August, 1856. The first meeting of the Directors was held at Kirkby Stephen about that time. The Act of Parliament authorizing the construction of the line received the Royal Assent on the 13th of July, 1857, and the subsequent "Deviation Act" was finally passed on the 1st of August, 1859. The first general meeting of the incorporated Shareholders was held at Darlington, on the 5th of August, 1857. Of 337 landowners and 311 occupiers, only 20 of each expressed even formal dissent to the measure, and not one in either class appeared in Parliament, so that both Bills passed without opposition. All these facts speak well for the energy of the Directors, and the indefatigable exertions of the Secretary, Mr Geo. Brown.
'At Barnard Castle, the line unites with the Stockton and Darlington Railway, and is thereby placed in communication with that line and the North Eastern Railway, and with the important commercial districts and ports of South Durham and Cleveland.
'There are on the portion of the line this day opened, a number of magnificent Bridges and Viaducts. Some of the viaducts rank among the largest and most famous structures of their class in Europe. The following are the chief Viaducts on the Line.
'Percy Viaduct, near Barnard Castle, is a handsome stone structure, with five brick arches ; length 300 feet, height 70 feet; six arches of 30 feet span, and two arches of 13 feet span.
'The Tees Viaduct, is a noble work, consisting of stone piers and abutments, and ornamental lattice-girder of wrought iron. Length of bridge 830 feet, height from surface of the water to formation level 130 feet, from foundation to formation 150 feet. The Bridge has five spans of 120 feet each from centre to centre of the piers, with a fine skew-arch through each abutment. The depth of the lattice-girder is 16 feet. The masonry is by Mr D. P. Appleby, Barnard Castle, and the girder was executed by Messrs [[Kinnaird of London. The foundation-stone was laid in October, 1857, by John Wakefield, Esq., the chairman of the Company.
'The Deepdale Viaduct is an iron structure with stone foundations and abutments. It consists of columns of iron with cast and malleable iron struts and tie-beams, tapering from the foundation to the main girders, at which latter point they are 24 feet wide. Each pier is composed of six columns of iron, and the Bridge is a little over 160 feet high from the surface to the formation level. Its length is 740 feet. It contains 11 openings of 48 feet, clear and 60 feet if measured from centre to centre of piers. It contains 553 tons of cast iron, and about 285 tons of wrought iron. It is on a curve of 30 chains radius, and spans one of the loveliest glens in the district. The effect when seen from a point about 200 yards south-west, is singularly imposing. The iron work was executed by Messrs Gilkes &, Co. of Middlesbro' and the masonry by Mr. D. P. Appleby of Barnard Castle. The foundation stone was laid in October, 1837, by the Hon. T. Witham, of Lartington Hall. Mossgill Viaduct is a stone structure, 106 feet high, and 215 feet long ; spanning a romantic ravine, by six arches of 30 feet span, and forming a conspicuous object on North Stainmoor. It is situate near Barhouse Station.
'The Beelah Viaduct crosses the picturesque vale of the rivulet in Westmorland whose name it bears. It is of similar construction, but considerably longer and higher than the Deepdale Viaduct. It 1,000 feet long, and 197 feet high from the surface of the ground to the formation level. The openings are 16 of 48 feet span each. It contains upwards of 800 tons of cast-iron, and about 400 tons of malleable iron. The iron work is by Messrs Gilkes and Co. of Middlesbro,’and the masonry by Mr Boulton, of Rye Hill, Newcastle-on-Tyne. The foundation-stone was laid by Henry Pease. Esq , M.P., the Vice Chairman of the Company.
'These Bridges were built from designs by Thos. Bouch, Esq., and carried out under the supermtendence of A. L. Nimmo, Esq., resident engineer. Ihe Viaduct of Aytigill, or Redgill, is a stone structure, of 9 arches. Span 30 feet each. Total length 279 feet; height 94 feet.
'Merrygill Viaduct is also a beautiful stone building. It has 9 arches of 30 feet span each. Length 306 feet; height 75 feet.
'Podgill Viaduct spans a romantic dell in Westmorland, and, like Merrygill, is situate close to the ancient site of Hartley Castle, the former seat of the Musgrave family. Podgill Viaduct is of stone. It is 375 feet long, and 82 high, and has 11 arches of 32 feet span each.
'The viaducts of Aytigill, Podgill, and Merrygill are also from designs by Thos. Bouch, Esq. C.E., the work being executed by Messrs Chambers and Hilton, of Birmingham, contractors under the superintendence of James Affleck Esq., the resident engineer of the western section of the railway.
'Smardale Viaduct is a large stone structure in Smardale-gill, where the railway traverses the side of a deep wooded ravine, at a great height above the river which winds its way in the centre of the valley. A shelf or ledge has been in many places cut in the abrupt limestone slopes of this valley for the reception of the permanent way. The bridge contains 14 fine arches, 30 feet span each. Its length is 473 feet, and height 92 feet. It was built by Henry Wrigg, Esq., contractor, Preston, from design of the same engineer, and carried out under the superintendence of Mr Affleck. Besides the above, there remain to be executed on the western section, between Barnard Castle and the Coalfield -
'Forthburn Viaduct, of freestone, 231 feet long, 49 feet high; four arches of 35 feet span, and two abutments.
'Langleydale Viaduct, a stone structure, 366 feet long, and 85 feet high; eleven arches of feet span.
'Gaunless Viaduct. Fire-brick, with malleable iron lattice girder. Length 645 feet, height 132 feet; four openings of 120 feet each, from centre to centre of pier.
'Particulars to the dinner &c, shall be given next week. The opening of this line has necessitated changes in the Time Table of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, particulars of which will be found in another column. It will be seen that Market Train will run to and from Kirkby Stephen to Barnard Castle every Wednesday.'