Bowes Railway or Monkton Mineral Line 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.
Waste from the smelting of iron ore for Palmers Shipyard began being dumped in open fields to the north of Monkton Village, eventually creating a vast slag heap which resulted in the Bede Burn being culverted. Smelting and shipbuilding continued for well over a century.
The railway remained virtually intact until 1968. Between 1968 and 1974, most of the line was closed until only the last 3.5 miles between Monkton and Jarrow staithes were operated by the National Coal Board.In the late 1980's the last section between Monkton and Jarrow Staithes closed.
In 1990 work started on reclaiming the land as Bedeswell Park / Campbell Park , covering a 50 acre green area for recreation and nature. The former railway ran along the eastern boundary of Bedeswell Park / Campbell Park and has now become a long distance trail and part of the national cycle network 11.
Bede's Well, an ancient water source named after the famous Jarrow monk who reputedly discovered it, survives in Campbell Park / Bedeswell Park. It was customary to immerse diseased children in the well to cure ailments or use it as a wishing well. In the late 19th century the well was in danger of being buried due to the tipping of slag in the area. To prevent this, a brick wall and iron railings were placed around it. When the Slag Heap was finally removed the whole area was given a makeover. The site of the well was paved and park benches provided.