(All photos © Jordan Thompson)
In 1881, plans to extend the Rothbury branch northwards to Cornhill - known as the Central Northumberland Railway - faced vigorous opposition from the traders of Alnwick, fearful that valuable agricultural traffic from Wooler would disappear to rival markets in Rothbury. And so, with some reluctance, the North Eastern Railway was prompted to promote its own 36-mile line from the existing terminus at Alnwick to Cornhill via Wooler. The company's proposal was by far the cheaper and an enabling Act passed through Parliament on 19th May 1882. Having cost £272,266 to build, communities along the route joined the age of the train on 5th September 1887.
Rich in engineering features, it would be easy to overlook some of the branch's lesser structures. There are several substantial culverts, three of which are shown on this page. About a mile south of Powburn, a cattle creep was constructed to provide a means of passing along Lincomb Dean which the railway crossed on a high embankment. The structure is predominantly stone-built, except for the arch which is brick.
Further south towards Whittingham, a deep cutting had to be excavated, the sides of which are supported by lengthy retaining walls.
Long term, the Cornhill branch was not a roaring commercial success. Passenger services were withdrawn on 22nd September 1930, just 43 years after they started; the section of line through the cutting closed completely on 2nd March 1953.