The prospect of a wider market for the Fourstones coal brightened when, on 5 January 1795, William Chapman published his plans for a Tyne - Solway canal. These plans did not tempt enough potential investors to make a success of the scheme, and on 26 September 1796 Chapman deposited parliamentary plans for a Newcastle - Haydon Bridge canal. However, Parliament rejected the Bill.
Prospects brightened once again with a public meeting held in Newcastle on 26 March 1825 to promote the construction of a railway between Newcastle and Carlisle. At about this time, the lessee of the mineral rights beneath the ground at Fourstones was Richard Heslop. He was described in Parson & White’s Trade Directory of 1827 as a colliery owner and lime burner. The limestone for burning was obtained from quarries high on the hillside above the village. It may be that the kilns were close to the quarries, as the 1865 Ordnance Survey shows ‘Limekilns’ above Fourstones village. In contrast, the various coal pits were down in the valley bottom; the Newcastle - Haydon Bridge canal would have been routed through the middle of a cluster of such pits. Greenwood’s 1828 Map of Northumberland includes a label ‘Engine’ close to the riverbank south-west of Fourstones which presumably also marked the site of a colliery as the so-called Little Limestone coal outcropped here.
The plan to construct the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway was – eventually – blessed with success, and Fourstones was connected with the eastern end of the railway on 28 June 1836. Connection with the western, Carlisle, end was effected when the entire railway was formally opened on 18 June 1838. At Fourstones the railway was constructed not far above river level, lower down the hillside than the canal would have been. The tracks were passed very close to the ‘Engine’ marked on Greenwood’s map, and Fourstones Colliery subsequently developed on the opposite, landward, side of the railway. Fourstones station, located east of the colliery, was opened in 1839. (The ‘Station’ marked on the map was authorised in 1879; the original station building was converted into a house for the stationmaster.)
By 1855, the lessee of the mineral rights was William Benson of Allerwash House. Benson continued to extract both coal and stone. Some of the coal went for landsale, and may have been conveyed locally by cart, but most was despatched via the railway. Coal was also used to fire the kilns built adjacent to the colliery where limestone was burned either for agricultural or for building purposes. The colliery was never a large-scale producer, however, and according to The Hexham Courant of 27 December 1873 the average output was about 100 tons per day. The coal workings were entered via a drift, and tubs loaded with coal were drawn out the same way by a winding engine. According to the Courant: ‘as soon as a train emerges from the tunnelled entrance and gets over the brow of the hill, an old man standing by makes a frantic dash at the leading tub, and, throwing himself athwart it as it runs, reaches down and unhooks the wire rope…’ This was a typical working practice of the time, no doubt.