Founded in 1826, the Bowes Railway is the oldest and best preserved standard gauge cable railway system in the world. It remained in commercial operation for 148 years, at its peak serving 13 collieries along a 15 miles route. The oldest section was designed by George Stephenson and extended from the Mount Moor Colliery to the Staithes at Jarrow. This included four working inclines: two self-acting (Jarrow and Springwell) and two hauled sections. The latter were hauled by a stationary steam engine housed at the top of Blackham Hill and working the Blackham Hill East Incline (Springwell Flat) and the Blackham Hill West Incline (Blackham Short).  A detailed survey of the remains of the track and structures was carried out.

The survey identified that the trackbed associated with the two inclines is fairly well-preserved and relatively complete.