Cornhill Community Action Group



Creating an Archive of Births, Marriages and Deaths for public access




Help us to record villagers' memories

Two training sessions (free)

equipment provided

Contact: Teresa 01890 883330

or Elizabeth 01890 882578



Photographs old and new of Cornhill for an archive and a photographer to work with the project.


Details on our Community Action Group Page


CPC Meeting

The next

Parish Council Meeting

will take place in the Village Hall on:

Thursday, 14th November 2019, at 6.00pm



Minutes of the Parish Council Meetings are available on our archive page

(Drop-down menu on the Parish Council page menu).


Community Walk

Details about the 6th Community walk can be found on our

"In and Around Cornhill" page


St Helen's Church

Latest Stained Glass Project update

on our St Helen's Page

Cornhill Community Action Group


Identifying and implementing projects that benefit the Parish of Cornhill-on-Tweed

Details on our NEW PAGE via the Community Page menu


 A brief write-up about the recent Summer Fair

is available on the Community Group Page:



 Parish Council current financial statement is available

  on our

"Parish Council" page


 Plastic Packaging


You can help in the reduction of plastic packaging by signing a petition via a link on our "Community Page"


 Cornhill Festive Lights Project


Details on our "Newsletter" page

 Planning Notices

Visit the Planning Page via the Menu Link on our Parish Council Page

 Parish Council Accounts

Are available on our Parish Council Page

 OilCAN Community Oil Buying Scheme

 Run by Affinity and Community Action Northumberland

Not a Member:

Joining details, Current Oil Prices for Members
and full information on our

Community Page


 Superfast Broadband now available in Cornhill!

Full details on our Community Page


What's going on with our Ambulances?

Is a protocol on paramedic breaks endangering lives in North Northumberland?

Please share your view on our ambulance cover



Coldstream Station



Cornhill Station 1 Cornhill Station 2 Cornhill Station image 3

Cornhill Station image 4 Cornhill Station image 5

Click on images to enlarge

This extended look at Cornhill’s railway history is to mark the 50th Anniversary of the final withdrawal of passenger trains in June 1964.

The opening of the railway from Tweedmouth to Sprouston on 27 July 1849 (extended to Kelso June 1851) was an event of major significance. Prior to that, Cornhill was served by a daily mail coach between Berwick and Kelso, and by carriers’ waggons conveying both goods and passengers. Some local people had horses, occasionally a carriage, but for most, shank’s pony was the only means of transport. The overwhelming predominance of agriculture, with long hours and very low pay, meant that most people’s horizons were limited, although the annual hiring system did generate much short-distance migration.

The new railway connected at Tweedmouth/Berwick with the main London-Edinburgh line, offering unprecedented opportunities for travel, by those who could afford the fares and the time. Initially, it was probably more important for the rapid movement of agricultural produce to new markets and for importing coal and fertilisers. The railway replaced the age-old droving of livestock from to the urban markets of England, ensuring that cattle arrived far more quickly and in better condition. Cornhill developed an extensive goods yard, with a livestock market next to the station, where the octagonal auction mart building was added in 1881 (wantonly demolished in 2009/10).

Cornhill’s population reached its all-time peak in 1851, thereafter decline by one-third to 1911. Coldstream was not immune from this decline. From a peak in 1851, the population of the town had fallen by 31% in 1901. In 1836, the Royal Mail stagecoach from London took about 36 hours to reach Berwick. By March 1850, there were three trains each way on the new line (two on Sundays), giving a best time to London Euston of around 16 hours, soon reduced by the opening of the direct line to Kings Cross. Although Cornhill station in Aberdeenshire was opened in 1859, our station was not renamed Coldstream until 1 October 1873.

A proposal of the 1860s for a railway from Rothbury to Coldstream Bridge was stillborn, but eventually, an expensively-built line from Alnwick to Cornhill opened on 5 September 1887, including a footbridge at Coldstream. The passenger service was withdarwn on 22 September 1930. The Kelso-Berwick passenger service lasted until June 1964; the last train was the 1602 from St Boswells to Berwick on Saturday 13 June, the official closure date was 15 June, just short of 115 years since the line opened. Both Berwick and Wooler (to which the service had been cut back after flood damage in August 1948) lines closed for freight from 29 March 1965.

By 1887, the passenger train service had settled into a long-lasting pattern of six weekday and two Sunday trains. The fastest journey between Coldstream and London now took 9h22m. The service was identical in 1895, but a further 75 minutes had been shaved off the London journey time. By then the Alnwick line had three trains each way, plus one extra on Saturdays. There was never a Sunday service on this line. The growth of the livestock market led to the provision of special farmers’ trains from Berwick and Wooler on alternate Mondays to coincide with sale days. Between the wars, road transport grew rapidly in importance, and a network of bus services that served the centres of population better was in place by the 1930s, further reducing the appeal of the train service.

The April 1910 service to Berwick line was more complex. The six weekday trains were supplemented by extras on Fridays, Mondays (2) Saturday, two of them described as ‘motor’ trains, denoting a push-pull locomotive and carriage combination. The Sunday service continued at two trains. On the Alnwick line, there were three trains each way, plus one extra on Mondays and Saturdays and the market train on alternate Mondays. There were significant reductions after 1918. By mid-1922, the Alnwick line was back to three trains each way, while there were five Berwick-Coldstream trains on weekdays, plus one terminating at Tweedmouth. In July 1938, the Alnwick line service no longer operated, but there were still five Monday-Friday trains on the Berwick line and six on Saturdays, but only one on Sundays. The fastest journey time to Kings Cross was now 7h12m. Sunday trains soon disappeared, leaving a basic weekday service of four each way, plus a fifth on Saturday in 1947. By the late-1950s, the service was down to three trains each way. All the stations between Tweedmouth and Kelso apart from Norham and Coldstream closed to passengers in July 1955.

Goods train services were more variable, reflecting factors such as the peaks in livestock traffic. In winter 1892/3, for example, an all-stations train left Alnmouth at 1005, calling at Coldstream 1610/1645, and finally reaching Tweedmouth at 1735. The southbound train left Tweedmouth at 0900, calling Coldstream 0945/1040, indicating a substantial amount of shunting and marshalling of wagons. Wooler-Coldstream and Tweedmouth-Wooler livestock trains ran alternate Mondays.

In summer 1908, the through Alnmouth-Tweedmouth goods trains were similar to 1892. On Mondays, a livestock train from Tweedmouth to Morpeth via Coldstream, with a train of empty cattle wagons Tweedmouth-Wooler as required. A goods and livestock train ran from Kelso to Wooler (alternate Mondays). (It is impossible to calculate the number of sheep and cattle moved by rail to and from Cornhill, as wagon capacity varied depending on the size and weight of the animals.)

In 1913, outward traffic at Coldstream station included 2285 tons of barley, 697 of potatoes and 418 of oats, plus 1090 livestock wagons. The principal inwards traffic was coal. Some 22,341 tickets were issued, equivalent to six journeys per head of the catchment population, similar to Norham, Carham and Wooler.

Census returns between 1851 and 1911 provide information about railway workers who lived at Cornhill. There were five in 1851, two years after the line opened, 12 in 1881 and 17 in 1901/11. They supported around 25 people in 1851-71, 35 in 1881-91 and 65 in 1901-11, against a significant decline in population; the railway element grew from about 3% 1851-71 to 10% 1901-11.

For many years, the only accommodation provided by the railway was the station house and two crossing-keepers’ cottage at Green Lane. Other staff had live in the village. Cornhill had four station masters during this period: Adam Thomson (1851), William Deans (1861-91), John Robson (1901) and Thomas Paterson (1911).

In total, the Census records 55 railwaymen, though others probably came and went during the ten-year intervals. Although railway employment may have offered a ‘job for life’, promotion often involved moving. Forty-two men (75%) are only recorded in one Census, with ten appearing twice (18%).










Coal Agent



Coal Carter






Goods Porter


















Station Master






Telegraph Linesmen







Porters Douglas James and Peter Watson, and station master William Deans occur in 1861-91. Platelayer Thomas Swan (1871-1911) lived at Green Lane Gates and was still working at 69. The first gate-keeper at Green Lane, James Litster had been born in 1799! Those described as ‘railway labourer’ probably worked on the track, replaced later by the term platelayer. There was a turntable and a water tower at Coldstream station, but never an engine shed; no footplate staff ever lived locally.

The late-1880s saw a radical change in the nature of railway work here, probably coinciding with the opening of the Alnwick line. Before then, only rudimentary signalling was provided on the Kelso line, and no associated staff were based at Coldstream, where the most important grades platelayers and porters. The need to provide continuous block signalling, plus the additional tracks and points associated with the new branch and expansion of the goods yard to handle increased livestock traffic, led to the erection of a substantial signalbox on the up (Berwick) platform and installation of a range of signals.

This upsurge in railway employees led the NER to provide two short terraces of red-brick cottages on the west side of the tracks. The three-bedroom houses with living room, scullery and back yards with ashpit, privy and coal store. (Bathrooms were only added in the 1960s.) They were to standard designs by the company architect, William Bell, and cost around £180 each to build. Three (now 6-8) were completed just before the 1891 Census, the others (2-5) soon afterwards. Priority was given to housing the new signalmen, who occupied two or three cottages. Otherwise assorted porters and track workers lived in what was probably far superior accommodation to many older village properties.

Cornhill railway workers came from far and wide, about half from rural north Northumberland. Many had previously been agricultural labourers. Eleven men were born in Scotland and similar number in in south Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. William Deans, the long-serving station master, was born at Galashiels in 1813. He was a clerk at Longhoughton station in 1851. His son John, a clerk at Cornhill in 1861, was later station master at Horsforth and Otley in Yorkshire. Deans’ successor John Robson was born at Stocksfield on the Newcastle-Carlisle line where his father was station master, and where he worked for many years before coming to the Border. He died in 1904, and was succeeded by Thomas Paterson, born at Forres, who become an NER clerk on Tyneside by 1881.

The arrival of the railway at Cornhill in 1849, a very early date for a branch line in an agricultural area, not only made a strong physical impact, with major engineering works like the Till and Panama viaducts and various cuttings and embankments, all hand-built, but also had far-reaching economic effects. Railway work, at the station, in the goods yard or on the track, was very different from the life as an agricultural labourer or salmon fisherman, many of whom embraced the new technology. The cost of goods such as coal and fertiliser was reduced, while markets for local crops and livestock were significantly broadened. Between 1849 and 1914, railway facilities at Cornhill/Coldstream station greatly expanded, while safety improvements saw offered new types employment. After 1920, the rise of road transport had a severe impact on rural lines such as these, although the long-postponed end only came in 1964-5, by when services had declined to the level of 1850. Subsequently, the station and its facilities were swept away, leaving only Station Cottages as a legacy.

© Dr. Keith Bailey - author

Local Events


Cornhill Village Hall 

Quiz Night

Last Friday

of every month


Cornhill Village Hall


Community Choir 2018

Enjoy singing?

Come along and join the Community Choir at Cornhill Village Hall


Tuesday Evenings

from 7.30 to 9 pm


More information from

Val Carr

The Vicarage, Branxton TD12 4SW

01890 820239


Cornhill Village Hall

Thursdays 12 noon

(Includes lunch, tea, coffee, and biscuits)

Everyone welcome. Transport available. 

For more information or to request transport, contact:

Jane at Bell View

01668 219220


Cheviot Centre 


Click HERE to see what's on at the Cheviot Centre this week, (External Link

Tillmouth Village Hall


Tillmouth Recreation Club


There is billiards,

bar billiards, darts,

table tennis etc.

If you don’t have transport it can be arranged too.

More information:

Phone 01890 882305.


Council Links

The  Minutes of the Cornhill Parish Council meetings are available on the archive page.


Citizens Advice Service

Contact details on our

"Community Page"


The County Council has introduced a new way of reporting potholes.

Information on how you can help by reporting potholes

on our Parish Council page

The Scottish Government

has introduced a licensing system for air weapons in Scotland.

From 31 December 2016, you will generally need a visitor permit to own, use, purchase or acquire

air weapons while in Scotland.

Visitor Permits are issued by Police Scotland.