Group and School visits please complete our request form or call 0785 0916484 

Except for events pre booking is not required for public visitors 

OPEN WEEKEND last Saturday and Sunday of each month 10am till 4pm

The World's Only Standard Gauge Cable Railway

Join us as a Volunteer


History of Bowes Railway

Bowes Railway was originally a colliery railway built to carry coal mainly from pits in north west Durham to the Tyne at Jarrow. The earliest section was designed by George Stephenson and opened on 17 January 1826, making it one of the world’s first modern railways. It was 15 miles long when completed in 1855. Each end was locomotive worked; the six mile middle section consisting of rope worked inclines with very steep gradients.



  • "What a lovely and surprising place this is. The guide was very knowledgeable. Set aside 2.5hrs for the visit. A snack from the cafe is well recommended, don't miss the sausage rolls. Will definitely be back."

    Colin Thompson

  • "I had a great morning at The Bowes Railway yesterday. I was shown around by enthusiastic guide Wilf and a very busy Amanda. He went above and beyond in escorting me around the site and inside most of the various sheds and engineering shops for over an hour. Thank you both very much"

    Rob Davidson

  • "Fantastic place all the staff were really helpful and welcoming. My son (2 years) loved seeing all the engines and trucks. We took part in the crafts and there was a good range to keep him entertained for a couple of hours, then he didn't want to leave. Thanks to the excellent team"

    Emma Mcmain


Latest news

09 May 2022

Friday after school club

Children enjoyed planting on the allotment this week at Bowes after school session followed by some fun games and crafts. Held Friday's 4pm till 6pm 

Read more
09 May 2022

Northumbria Water Volunteer Project

A huge thank you to Northumbria Water's Project Manager Richard Johnston and his amazing team 

Read more
06 May 2022

Easter fun with children from Washington and Sunderland

Enjoying Sunderland's Holiday activity and food programme (HAF), 4 Easter sessions were held to learn cooking skills, outdoor activities and crafts

Read more
06 May 2022

Thornbeck College Students enjoying a tour of the Wagon Shop

Taking time out to explore the museum Students from Thornbeck College in Aycliffe who are attending weekly volunteer experience sessions at Bowes Railway

Read more
06 May 2022

WEA Learners session to achieve Volunteering Award Level 1

Only 1 week to go until the W.E.A participants complete their Volunteering Award Level 1 ! Enjoying a session outside in the sunshine

Read more


WALK THE LINE & Discover your Heritage 2022

Challenge Yourself in 2022 -WALK THE LINE with us!
If you fancy more of a challenge register for our 6 mile walk from Burnopfield to Kibblesworth
A new series of short and medium level guided walks led by our experienced Tour Guides to following the 15 mile stretch of Bowes Railway line.

 Over a series of weeks we will be covering a variety of walks including  Dipton's Delight Colliery, Burnopfield, Tanfield Railway, Birkheads Crossing, Kibblesworth down to Team Valley, passing underneath the East Coast main Line A1M and A167, then up hill to Blackfell Engine House and Blackham's Hill Winding House which will be opened for viewing on selected dates.

If you would like to know more about the walks or register to receive a schedule of walk dates please contact us for more information




Birds & Bugs printable activity

Half Term Making Bird Feeders

February Half Term Sessions were supported by Sunderland Council

Washington Ward Holiday Activity & Food Programme Fund

Children enjoyed a variety of activities including making healthy banana and egg pancakes and creating bird feeders for their garden