Category Archives: Some Early Lines

Posts about lines and branches which ceased operations – some restored, some sadly lost for ever.

Some Early Lines – Six Counties Scenes

Some Early Lines

Six Counties Scenes

Pic 1Fintona Junction was one of those Irish stations at which, because it was a junction and a single-line passing place, everything happened at once between long periods of inactivity. GNR 4-4-0 goods engine No.73 of Class ‘P’ stands in the bay, having shunted its train to await the passing of the two passenger trains of the evening of August Bank Holiday Saturday, 1954.

Pic 2Cookstown Junction lay between Antrim and Ballymena, on the NCC main line from Belfast to Londonderry. The branch from the junction took the form of a loop which joined the main line again at Macfin, close to Coleraine. No.57 ‘Galgorm Castle’ leaves Cookstown Junction with a train for Cookstown via Magherafelt on 20th June, 1938.

Pic 3The Beyer Peacock 4-4-2 tanks were the standard passenger engine used on the Belfast & County Down Railway, and they worked the branch to the end. Unlike many Irish lines, the County Down ran its tank engines bunker first when it suited them; No.13 waits at the terminus at Donaghadee for the right away to Comber and Belfast. This branch was the last section to go, under the 1950 closures.

Pic 4In 1948 the Belfast & County Down Railway fell into the hands of the newly formed Ulster Transport Authority, and by 22nd April, 1950, the whole of the Railway had been shut down, with the exception of the Bangor branch which apparently still prospered. The first section to go was the main line south of Comber in January, 1950, and with it the branch to Ballynahinch, which was sometimes worked by the only remaining tender passenger locomotive 2-4-0 No.6

Some Early Lines – The Spa Valley Railway

Some Early Lines

The Spa Valley RailwayDiesel haulage from Eridge

Diesel haulage from Eridge

A group had chartered this train on the Spa Valley Railway for the day, but invited members of the public to join them for a reasonable fee for a day rover ticket. It was “topped and tailed” by two diesel locomotives. Here, 33063 is at the rear of the train as it leaves Eridge; 37153 was hauling. © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Spa Valley Railway (SVR) is a standard gauge heritage railway that runs from Tunbridge Wells West railway station in Tunbridge Wells to High Rocks, Groombridge, and Eridge, where it links with the Oxted Line. En route it crosses the Kent and East Sussex border, a distance of 5 miles (8 km), along the former Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells Central Line / Cuckoo Line. The railway headquarters is at Tunbridge Wells West railway station.


The railway was engineered by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway’s (LB&SCR) Chief Engineer Frederick Banister, as part of the East Grinstead, Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells Railway (EGGTWR), itself an extension to the Three Bridges to East Grinstead Railway which had been completed in 1855.

The EGGTWR was part of a regional race between the LB&SCR and the SER, and a specific race to access the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells:

“ The LBSC was becoming concerned at threatened incursions by the [SER] on its territory. So a battle was on. Tunbridge Wells was first reached from East Grinstead in 1866 via Groombridge. Two years later, with the South Eastern Railway (SER) looking towards Lewes, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway countered with a line from Groombridge to Uckfield. ”

The LB&SCR opened Tunbridge Wells West in 1866 as the eastern terminus of the EGGTWR; there was also an extension to Tunbridge Wells Central. From Tunbridge Wells West there were direct services to the South Coast at Brighton and Eastbourne and to London Victoria. The Victoria services ran via Groombridge and Ashurst. As a sign outside the station proudly proclaimed, “New Route to London: Shortest, Quickest and Most Direct. Frequent Express Trains.”

Eridge Station platformsEridge station platforms

This is a shared station. The left hand track here is under the control of the private Spa Valley Railway. The right hand track is owned by Network Rail and served by Southern Railway trains in both directions on the Uckfield branch. SVR has its own part-time booking office on the platform; Southern’s booking office is on the footbridge.  © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


The Spa Valley Railway (SVR) has its origins in a charitable society formed on 13 September 1985, to purchase and reopen the Tunbridge Wells West to Eridge line. Named the Tunbridge Wells and Eridge Railway Preservation Society (TWERPS), it began a long struggle to reopen the line. The campaign received a setback in the late 1980s when Tunbridge Wells Borough Council gave planning permission for the construction of a large Sainsburys supermarket complex on the site of the derelict goods yard of Tunbridge Wells West. While the 1891 locomotive shed and station building were protected as listed buildings, the remaining area of the site was obliterated, including the goods shed and signal boxes. However, planning permission was subject to the condition that the developer pay for construction of a new station platform and restoration of the engine shed.

In 1996 the North Downs Steam Railway relocated from Dartford, where it was experiencing vandalism problems, and merged with TWERPS. It transferred its assets and helped establish a base in the former LB&SCR locomotive shed. Also in 1996, the group acquired the line as far as Birchden Junction. Alongside the loco shed a new platform was built, from where services began running to Cold Bath Bridge (about 0.75 mile away) in December 1996. Services were extended to Groombridge in August 1997 and to Birchden Junction in 2005.

In 2007, SVR marked the tenth anniversary of the opening of the line by transforming Groombridge into a busy interchange station, with trains arriving or departing every 15 minutes. The funds raised from this event went towards the “Return to Eridge” appeal to raise £500,000 for the extension to the Uckfield main line at Eridge. The heritage railway finally re-opened the line to Eridge on 25 March 2011Groombridge StationGroombridge station

A view from Station Road bridge  © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


The SVR provides a way of getting to other local tourist attractions, such as Groombridge Place, High Rocks and the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells. On 25 March 2011 the SVR extended passenger services to Eridge, where there is a footbridge interchange with Southern services on the London Bridge to Uckfield line.

The railway holds a number of special event days, including A Day Out with Thomas weekends, Santa Specials, and both steam and heritage diesel weekends.05190 Topham 0-6-0ST Bagnall 2193-1922 West Cannock

Bagnall 2193/1922 – Under assessment at Spa Valley Railway.

Pictured at work at West Cannock Colliery.  Chasewater Railway Museum Collection.

Some Early Lines – The Stamford and Essendine Railway.

Some Early Lines

The Stamford and Essendine Railway.Stamford Station

Stamford Station

 A very cold but bright day this is Stamford station looking west towards Oakham on the Peterborough to Leicester line. The station building house is a book shop now.  © Copyright roger geach and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 There were two stations in Stamford, both outstandingly attractive, of which one survives as a station, the other as a private dwelling.

The first station in Stamford was called Town station and was built in 1848 by Sancton Wood for the Syston & Peterborough Railway. This company was a protege of the Midland Railway intended to resist incursion by the Great Northern into what the Midland considered to be its own territory. The Marquis of Exeter at Burghley House required the railway to be invisible as it passed through the grounds of his estate so immediately east of the station the railway enters a tunnel. The station itself is in the Tudor style with tower and belfry, gables and bay windows. It remains in railway use though most of the building is a bookshop.

Stamford East was built in 1856 by William Hurst. The Marquis of Exeter had initially rebuffed attempts by the Great Northern Railway to pass through Stamford with its main line, and so the railway was routed through Peterborough instead. He then had second thoughts, and himself promoted a short 6km.(4m.) branch line to the Great Northern line at Essendine. For a short time he operated it himself but gave up in 1872. Meanwhile a second branch was opened to Wansford in 1867.

To accommodate this modest little railway he had built a gorgeously extravagant Elizabethan style manor house, replete with gables, finials, perforated parapet, tall mullion windows, and a square tower with a pierced parapet. It survived as a station until 1957, whereupon it was converted into two houses.

The Stamford and Essendine Railway.

Source: The Illustrated London News, Jan. 3, 1857Stamford Railway Station

This railway was opened for public traffic on the 1st November. It forms a junction with the Great Northern main line at Essendine, which is distant nearly twelve miles north of Peterborough; and by means of this communication the fine old town of Stamford is brought within about two hours of the metropolis. The works, which are constructed for a double line of rails, were commenced about two years ago, under the auspices of the Marquis of Exeter, the promoter and principal proprietor of the line.

We engrave (from a drawing by Mr. W. Hurst, jun.) a picturesque View of the Stamford Station, as seen from the bridge at the foot of St. Mary’s Hill. It is a handsome stone building of Elizabethan character, and consists of a booking-hall, with offices and residence for station-master. The principal front includes two peaked wings, having ornamented gables, and a central projection with perforated parapet, carrying a shield in sunk panel, containing the arms of Stamford, surmounted with a coronet, and relieved by foliated scrolls and ribbon, bearing the name of the railway and the date of its construction.

The front elevation is pierced by mullioned windows of varied dimensions, after Burghley House, and bisected for its entire length with an overhanging screen or verandah, ten feet in width, which is carried upon brackets of appropriate design, and affords effective shelter for passengers alighting at the door of the booking-hall.

This hall, which measures 27 feet by 32 feet 6 inches, is lofty and of peculiar design—the roof being carried upon cambered timber beams, set in pairs, and springing from neatly-carved corbels firmly grafted in the walls. It is lighted principally from the ceiling, which is partitioned in recessed compartments, having pendant ornaments at the intersections of the panels.

A gallery, supported on tastefully-scrolled brackets, runs round the building, and is faced with elegant cast-iron railing; from which, at the angles, rise ornamented columns with globular gas glasses at their tops.

This gallery leads, on the one hand, to the directors’ room and offices; and on the opposite side are ranged the living-rooms and other apartments of the station clerk.

On the ground-floor, opposite the entrance, and looking over the passenger platform behind, is the booking-office; and on each side the hall are placed the first-class waiting-rooms, parcels and other offices; while the area is provided with movable seats for second and third class passengers.

At the south-east angle of the building is a massive stone tower, in which, on the ground floor, are the porters’ and lamp rooms, &c.; and above are “stores,” well protected by a never-failing tank of water on the roof, which is surrounded by an open parapet, with projecting angles, carved finials, and columnar chimney-stack.

At the back of and adjoining the booking-hall is the passenger platform, covered by a light wrought-iron trellised roof of timber and glass. The up and down lines of railway are on either side the platform, and the whole is illuminated by lanterns hanging from the tie rods of the iron roof, and by wail-lamps mounted in cast-iron brackets of a neat and novel character.

The station is approached through light wrought-iron gates, hung on posts of pierced castings, harmonising with the principal elevation of the booking-hall and offices before described.

The goods warehouse, granary, and other buildings common to terminal stations are plain and neat in design, and the arrangements generally are well compacted and complete. The whole of the works were constructed by the late Mr. Thomas Hayton, the well-known contractor on the London and North-Western Railway, from designs and under the superintendence of Mr. William Hurst, the Company’s engineer.Site of Stamford East Railway StationSite of Stamford East railway station – frontage

 Former railway station, terminus of the Stamford & Essendine railway.  Built to match the architectural style of Burghley House.  © Copyright Bob Harvey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.



Some Early Lines – The Keith and Dufftown Railway (“The Whisky Line”)

Some Early Lines

The Keith and Dufftown Railway (“The Whisky Line”)Spirit_of_Speyside,_Keith_and_Dufftown_Railway

Class 108 diesel multiple unit “Spirit of Speyside” at Keith and Dufftown Railway

Image taken, August 2004.  Original uploader was Kcampbell at en.wikipedia  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

 The Keith and Dufftown Railway (“The Whisky Line”) is a heritage railway in Scotland, running for 11 miles (18 km) from Keith Town, Keith (Ordnance Survey grid reference NJ429508) to Dufftown (NJ322414) via Drummuir (NJ378442).

Originally the former Great North of Scotland Railway Keith and Dufftown Railway which was part of the link Aberdeen with Elgin (with the Strathspey Railway and Morayshire Railway), the line was latterly a freight-only branch for British Rail, truncated at Dufftown, although in latter years it hosted a series of Northern Belle summer Sunday lunch specials from Aberdeen.

The line is open and a regular service runs throughout the Keith and Dufftown Railways operating season from March to September. Special events are also run including Santa Specials, Scots Nights. These services are run on the Class 108 DMUs.

Dufftown is the main centre of operation of the railway where there is a booking office, waiting room and licenced cafe called the Buffer Stop, which is open during operating season. There are two headshunts and a loop, work is being undertaken to install a new loop at Dufftown so that there can be two tracks going into the new engine shed.

There is nothing at Drummuir Station except the platform, although there may be something there in the future. At Keith there is a booking office and a shop which sells railway memrobilia, books, Thomas the tank engine items and model railway items which are sold by members of the association. This shop too is also only open during operating season.

At present there is no connection to the mainline, there are two 60ft sections of track uplifted. However there are long term plans to reconnect to the mainline but this is a long time away in the future.

The LineDufftown_a

Headquarters and western terminus of the Railway, Dufftown Station, AB55 4BA, is located less than a mile from the town centre towards Elgin on the A941. The Station building has been restored by the Association from a near-ruined shell and now boasts a booking office, waiting room and information area. The Buffer Stop carriages provide excellent cafe facilities on the platform. Make sure you stop by for a hot snack, tea and coffee, and maybe even a slice of cake.LochPark_a

Loch Park is a man-made loch stretching just over a mile along the narrow valley at the head of the Isla. The line drops down to run along the shoreline, hemmed in by the steep pine-covered hillside, until the waters tumble into a circular weir beside the Loch Park Activity Centre.Drummuir

Overlooked by Drummuir Castle, Drummuir Station is the one of the most tranquil spots on the line. Sheltered by the wooded valley sides from the village and road, there is often nothing but birdsong to disturb the natural silence.

One platform of the original two has so far been refurbished, and the remains of the goods yard loading ramps can still be seen. The KDR’s locomotive shed is under construction near the station, and a passing loop will be installed, in due course, to allow two trains to run.

Passengers are welcome to break their journey here to stroll through the walled gardens at the nearby castle.

Towiemore Halt has lost its platform over the years, but the former platform hut is now in use as a permanent way store and bothy for cold volunteers! One feature of this station was the use, for many years, of an ex-GNSR coach body as a waiting room. A similar body was acquired several years ago, and one wonders whether it might see similar use again.

The warehouses on the left as we leave the halt were once served by a large goods yard. Clearance work led to the discovery of original GNSR gates still in position amongst the undergrowth. From here the line bends to the left and enters a long straight, parallel with the Isla, now on the right. The landscape is changing as we leave the areas of dense pine forest and enter rolling open farmland.IMGP1163auchindachy

As the line curves left once again, we pass under the Keith-Dufftown road once more and arrive at Auchindachy station.

Auchindachy (pronounced och-eye-nachie – soft “ch”, as in “loch”) Station building still stands, although it is now a private residence. One platform of the original two is intact – a fine stand of trees grows where the other used to be! Across the road from the station is the Mill of Towie, a Victorian watermill complete with waterwheel and internal fittings. It is, at present, empty, although an attempt was made to open it as a restaurant in recent years. Perhaps the return of the railway will provide the incentive needed to make the most of this location andprovide an additional attraction for passengers. It is possible that a halt to serve this complex could be constructed in preference to using the old platform at Auchindachy. This would be on the opposite side of the road bridge from the existing station.

This area has seen much work put into improving the trackside drains as the line here is very close to the level of the river, and numerous tributaries feed down from the surrounding hills.


As we leave Auchidachy the river makes a wide sweep to the right, and the line crosses it twice as it follows round. The Keith-Dufftown road crosses for the last time as we descend through the picturesque valley towards Keith. The river meanders below us to the right before passing under us once more on the edge of the town.

Yet another distillery is passed to our left, with Strathmill siding awaiting its next freight traffic. We drop into the narrow cutting which passes under the main Aberdeen-Inverness road (A96) and out into Keith Town Station, AB55 5BR.

Located between the River Isla and the Church, Keith Town station, AB55 5BR is surprisingly secluded for a town-centre site. The main road crosses the platform end, but the high-walls of the bridge and pavements mean that there is little intrusion from the modern noise of traffic.

A new station building has been constructed here, based on the original and unique split-level GNSR station building which once stood at the station. The new structure was officially opened in 2003. For the time being, Keith Town is be the effective eastern terminus of the KDR, although the line continues for another half-mile down a steep 1 in 70 gradient to a junction with ScotRail and the Railtrack network at Keith Junction Station.KeithJunction_a

Some Early Lines – Sidmouth – Exeter Railway

Some Early Lines

Sidmouth – Exeter RailwayMap Exmouth_&_Sidmouth_1908

Map of LSWR railway branches to Exmouth and Sidmouth, Devon, UK in 1908

Licensing – I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following license:  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Sidmouth Railway: this article describes a temporary railway to build a pier at Sidmouth Harbour, and the later railway branch lines that connected Sidmouth and Exmouth to the main line network at Sidmouth Junction.

Sidmouth had been a fashionable resort and a small port. It was proposed to build a harbour protected by stone piers, and a temporary railway was built to bring stone from a nearby coastal rocky area.

The Sidmouth Railway was a railway branch line that ran from a junction at Feniton to Sidmouth, connecting the resort to the main line network.

The Budleigh Salterton Railway was a branch line that ran from Tipton St John to Budleigh Salterton, soon extended by the Exmouth and Salterton Railway to Exmouth.

All these railway lines are now closed.34109By David Rostance – 34109, Sidmouth Junction, May 1964

A first railway for the construction of piers

In the early years of the nineteenth century Sidmouth had been a popular watering place, but its popularity was declining; at the same time the small, exposed harbour was shoaling badly, and local promoters considered building a properly protected harbour, by the construction of two stone piers at the Chit Rocks, at the western end of Sidmouth sea front. Plentiful supplies of suitable stone were available at Hook Ebb, a location on the coast 1¾ miles to the east.

An Act of Parliament for the work was obtained in 1836, and the railway was duly laid. Foundation stones for each of the two piers were formally laid amid considerable ceremony, befitting the intended dedication of the piers to, respectively, Her Imperial Highness The Grand Duchess Helena of Russia, and Princess Victoria (later to become Queen Victoria).sidmouth(8.1969)3Sidmouth station looking north in August 1969 Photo by Nick Catford

The railway ran parallel to the sea front, and along the esplanade at Sidmouth itself, but there was a tunnel about a third of a mile long through Salcombe Hill. The line ended on the shingle beach, crossing the River Sid on a small viaduct. The railway seems to have been of 3ft 6in gauge, with track consisting of longitudinal wooden beams 6½ by 4 inches with a ⅜ inch plate on the top. In the shingle the railway was fixed in place by vertical timber piles.

A local blacksmith constructed a machine to pull the wagons loaded with the stone; the machine relied on human muscle power and was found to be inadequate. Apparently a locomotive was now ordered, and brought by coastal ship to the shore at Sidmouth; however there was no craneage available to unload it, so the ship was taken to Exmouth, where the locomotive was unloaded and brought to Sidmouth by horse and cart.

On placing the locomotive on the track at Sidmouth, it was discovered that it was too large to pass through the tunnel, and the scheme to use it was abandoned. Afterwards, it seems to have been used to give novelty pleasure rides for a period.newton(early20thc)poppleford_old10Newton Poppleford station seen from Station Road bridge in early 20th century

By 1838 the locomotive was removed, as was also the viaduct at Sidmouth. By this time £12,000 of the £15,000 projected cost of building the harbour had been expended, and nothing further was done, the subscribers having nothing to show for their investment. The tunnel remains in place, and during 1966-1967 storm action exposed a considerable length of the piles of the railway.

A connection to the main line

In 1860 the London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) opened a main line from Yeovil to Exeter on 18 July 1860, giving a through route from London. The rugged terrain of the south-east Devon coastline meant that the railway passed some distance to the north of Sidmouth; the nearest station was Feniton, nine miles away. There had been a number of railway schemes put forward over the previous decade or so to serve Sidmouth directly but they had come to nothing.

On 18 December 1861, London promoters held a meeting for the purpose of forming a Company to build a railway branch line to Sidmouth and a harbour there. The “Sidmouth Railway and Harbour Company” obtained an Act of Parliament on 7 August 1862 with a share capital of £120,000 and authorised loan capital of £40,000. Subscriptions were slow to be taken up, and the contractor Shrimpton complained that he was unable to make progress, as the engineer, H H Bird, had not supplied adequate plans. Further difficulties arose when it emerged that the Company had secretly divided the share issue into two classes, and calls were only being made to one of the classes. Finally it was shown that the Company had unsupported liabilities of £20,000, over three-quarters of which were due to the contractor Shrimpton.

Undertakings were given to resolve the matter, but the Company foundered in 1869.

The trustees of the Balfour family now launched a scheme for a Sidmouth Railway, and this got its Act of Parliament on 29 June 1871, with share capital of £66,000 and borrowing powers of £22,000. The line was to be constructed under the arrangements for a Light Railway, and an agreement was made with the L&SWR for 50% of receipts if over £4,000, with an option for the L&SWR to purchase the railway.

The share issue was successful and a tender for construction of the line was awarded to R T Relf of Okehampton for £35,000. Possibly learning from the delays encountered in constructing the neighbouring Seaton Branch Line, there was a penalty clause for late completion of the work. Nonetheless Relf got into difficulties, asking the company for extra payment as he found that he had under-priced the station work, designs for which had not been completed at the time of tendering. The directors made a small allowance to him, and he sued for the balance, but he lost his case. However the railway was complete by July 1874. Col F H Rich of the Railway Inspectorate of the Board of Trade duly made the inspection and passed the line for opening. It opened on Monday 6 July 1874.

The Sidmouth Railway in operation

On the opening day there was no formal ceremony to mark the event, although celebrations took place through the first week.

The branch was single track. The junction station on the main line at Feniton had been called Ottery Road immediately prior to the opening, but the name was changed to Sidmouth Junction on the day of opening of the branch line. Sidmouth trains used a bay platform on the down (south) side of the station, and they left the bay in an eastwards direction. On leaving the station, the line curved round to the south falling at 1 in 110 and then 1 in 53, followed by flattish gradients to Ottery St Mary, 2 miles 78 chains from Sidmouth Junction; there was a crossing loop. Just before the next station the line crossed the river Otter on a 55 yard viaduct, then entering Tipton, at 5 miles 8 chains, also equipped with a crossing loop. The name was changed to Tipton St John on 1 February 1881.30583 Tipton St. JohnsEX-LSW 4-4-2T on Rail Tour at Tipton St Johns

View SE, towards Exmouth and Sidmouth: ex-LSW Sidmouth Junction – Sidmouth/Exmouth branch. No. 30583 was one of the LSW Adams ’0415′ class 4-4-2Ts which survived much longer than most of the class as it was needed for working on the lightly-built Lyme Regis branch. It was built 3/1885 as No. 488, then as No. 0488 in the Duplicate list was withdrawn in 9/17 and sold to the Ministry of Munitions who employed it at the Ridham Salvage Depot, Sittingbourne. In 4/19 it was bought by the East Kent Light Railway and numbered 5. It worked on that line for 18 years, then lay derelict at Shepherdswell for two years. However, it was re-acquired by the SR eventually in 3/46, restored after the War and put to work on the Lyme Regis branch in 12/46, where it worked until 7/61. Its life was not however ended even then, for it was purchased by the Bluebell Railway – where it still remains. This 1953 occasion was a Rail Tour arranged by Ian Allan Ltd., with (intended) high-speed runs from Waterloo to Exeter (Central) and back, with an auxiliary tour to Exmouth and back via Sidmouth Junction.

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved] © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Leaving Tipton the line now climbed at 1 in 45 for two miles to Bowd Summit, then falling at 1 in 54 for a mile to Sidmouth station, at 8 miles 23 chains. The station was some considerable distance from the sea front.

When the line opened, the passenger train service was seven trains each way six days a week, taking 28 to 30 minutes for the journey. After the opening of the Budleigh Salterton line (see below) the train frequency on the northern half of the original Sidmouth railway naturally increased. By 1909 the service had approximately doubled, with trains on Sundays also. Sidmouth was not an industrial town, so goods services mainly brought inwards agricultural supplies, building materials and coal for domestic purposes and for the gasworks at Sidmouth.

The branch was worked by staff and ticket at first, with Tyers electric train tablet system being introduced in 1904. The very steep gradients meant that special precautions had to be imposed for the operation of goods trains over the line.

Locomotive power initially was restricted to those suitable for use on light railways, and this is thought to include Beattie 2-4-0 well tanks. In later years the M7 0-4-4T class came to dominate. When the West Country light pacific 21C110 was to receive its name Sidmouth at a naming ceremony, it visited Sidmouth for the purpose on 27 June 1946, but the class was normally banned until after 1951.

Tipton was renamed Tipton St John’s on 1 February 1881.

Attempted takeover

In 1894 the L&SWR, which was operating the line, offered to purchase it outright for £70,050 but this was refused by the Company. However in 1922, just before the Grouping of the railways in Great Britain, a share swap was arranged, effectively ending the independent existence of the Sidmouth Railway company.Sidmouth Jn Station  Honiton -Whimple Sidmouth Jn Station.  Honiton -Whimple



Some Early Lines – Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea Railway

Some Early Lines

Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea Railwaywivenhoe show picture  (438)

An old” J ” Class Loco on the Wivenhoe to Brightlingsea run, Bill Sadler who runs the secondhand shop in station Rd. used to be Fireman on these Loco’s.

I was told that a commuter coming home from london to Brightlingsea, fell asleep and when the train slowed down to go over the iron bridge at Alresford Creek, he thought he had arrived at Brightlingsea. He opened the door to step out in the dark and fell headlong into the creek, he was rescued and lived to tell the tale.

 Brightlingsea railway station was located in Brightlingsea, Essex. It was on the single track branch line of the Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea Railway which opened in 1866 and closed in 1964.


The station building was located on the southern side of Lower Park Road where the town’s community centre now sits.

The station and line was built by The Wivenhoe & Brightlingsea Railway company. This been incorporated in 1861 to build a line from Wivenhoe to Brightlingsea which opened on 17 April 1866. The company was a separate, but associated, company to the Tendring Hundred Railway which had built the line from Colchester to Wivenhoe. The GER soon negotiated to buy both the Tendring Hundred Railway and the Clacton-on-Sea Railway, and both became part of the GER on 1 July 1883. The Wivenhoe & Brightlingsea was absorbed by the GER on 9 June 1893.

The line was temporarily closed on 1 February 1953 following severe flood damage but was not reopened until 7 December that year.


The service was identified for closure the Beeching Report of 1963 and was eventually axed in 1964. This was supposedly prompted by the high costs of maintaining the railway swing bridge over Alresford Creek, which was necessary to allow boat traffic to the many sand and gravel pits in the area.

The station building stayed in place for four years after the railway’s closure until it was damaged by fire in 1968. The building was finally demolished in November forum pic

“Wivenhoe Station, taken around the late ’50s, early ’60s. The sign on the Clacton platform reads Wivenhoe and Rowhedge, Junction for Brightlingsea.”

 Remains of railway

The visible relics of the railway’s presence today are the Railway public house and micro-brewery, and the old embankment which is now a footpath. It is possible to walk along virtually the whole length of the former route from very near the site of the old station in Brightlingsea along the old embankment to the site of the former swing bridge. This makes for a pleasant, scenic walk alongside the River Colne with its the ecologically interesting salt marsh environment.

The nearest railway station is now at Alresford.

Some Foreign Lines – Canada – Kettle Valley Steam Railway

Some Foreign Lines

Canada – Kettle Valley Steam Railway640px-Kettle_Valley_steam_train_at_Troat_Creek_Bridge_2011

Kettle Valley Railway at Trout Creek Bridge

 The Kettle Valley Steam Railway is a heritage railway near Summerland, British Columbia.

The KVSR operates excursion trains over the only remaining section of the Kettle Valley Railway through beautiful vistas, orchards, vineyards, and over the 238 feet (73 m) tall Trout Creek Trestle. Trains depart at 10:30 and 1:30 Sat-Mon during the spring and fall and Thurs-Mon through July and August. Check the schedule for special events such as the Great Train Robbery and the Christmas Express.

Trains are pulled by ex-Canadian Pacific 2-8-0 steam locomotive #3716 (N-2-B class), built in 1912. The railway also has an ALCO S-6 diesel electric locomotive (originally Southern Pacific #1050, more recently owned by Portland Terminals, then Neptune Bulk Terminals in North Vancouver). Between 1995 and 2009 a 2-truck Shay locomotive, Mayo Lumber #3, was on loan from the BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan; it was returned to Duncan on 17-Sep-2009.

Page by Tania Simpson - Kettle Valley Railway and Trout Creek BridgeTania Simpson – Kettle Valley Railway and Trout Creek Bridge

The Kettle Valley Steam Railway showcases a unique part of the Okanagan’s and British Columbia’s history. Built during 1910- 1915, the KVR “Kootenay to Coast Connection” powered our pioneer fruit industry into world markets, transported our families on vacations and errands; created employment, hobos and stories that will be with us - 2-8-0 at Summerland2-8-0 at Summerland –

  The KVR Society invites you to join them on the only preserved section of this historic railway: Ten miles of beautiful vistas; from lush orchards and vineyards to a spectacular view of lake and land from the Trout Creek Trestle Bridge 238 ft above the canyon floor. The sight and sound of our restored 1912 Steam Locomotive the “3716” will bring the era alive as you ride along on this 90 minute journey in a vintage passenger coach or open air car. An observation game for kids, anecdotes and lively musical entertainment make every run a memorable experience for the whole family. Make your reservation by calling toll free 1-877-494-8424 or visit their website at We look forward to seeing you this season!The Kettle Valley Steam Railway is run by a non-profit society dedicated to preserving Okanagan & BC Railway Heritage. Donations and all proceeds from Ticket & Gift Shop sales make the operation of this historic attraction a reality.KVRtrain irontrail.caKVRtrain

Some Early Lines – The Plym Valley Railway

Some Early Lines

The Plym Valley Railway

Train Pic B.MillsPhoto: B.Mills

The Plym Valley Railway is a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) heritage railway based on what was once a part of the now-closed South Devon and Tavistock Railway, a branch line of the Great Western Railway in Devon, England.

The line was originally part of the South Devon and Tavistock Railway, a 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) broad-gauge railway linking Plymouth with Tavistock in Devon, England. This opened in 1859, was converted to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) in 1892 and closed in 1962.GabionsPlymouth: Plym Valley Railway

Making gabions and erecting permanent fencing south west of the new terminus of the ‘heritage’ railway at Plym Bridge. The embankment will be built up against the gabions to allow construction of a siding or loop line. The railway is on the formation of the Great Western’s Plymouth-Tavistock branch which closed in the 1960s. The present society was formed in 1980 and in 2008 ran three-quarters of a mile to Lee Moor Crossing from its base near Marsh Mills. Opening to Plym Bridge will extend the route length to 1.5 miles  © Copyright Martin Bodman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Local enthusiasts set up a group in 1982 to restore part of the line as the Plym Valley Railway. The first section re-opened in May 2008 when trains could operate over 0.75 miles (1.2 km) of track as far as Lee Moor crossing, the site where the 4 ft 6 in (1,372 mm) gauge Lee Moor Tramway (now the West Devon Way cycle path) used to cross the line on the level. A new station was constructed just north of the site of the original Marsh Mills railway station as that site is occupied by a line that serves the Marsh Mills china clay plant. The new station was provided with a shop, buffet and small museum.PlatformPlymouth: Plym Valley Railway

New platform and northern terminus of the railway by Plym Bridge car park. On the formation of the Great Western branch line from Plymouth to Tavistock (and Launceston)  © Copyright Martin Bodman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The preserved line was extended to Plym Bridge on 30 December 2012, bringing it to 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in length.

The 0-4-0ST steam locomotive “Albert” returned to service in December 2007 after receiving major repairs to its boiler. Albert has operated on all passenger trains and diesel No. 13002 has been used regularly on engineering trains. In 2009 preparation work commenced on returning 0-6-0ST “Byfield” to steam, seeing the locomotive stripped down to its main components for assessment.

 The Plym Valley Railway is based at Marsh Mills which is close to the A38 road near Plymouth. It operates trains as far as Plym Bridge._Plym_Bridge_1600_ex_Marsh_B.Mills_30-12-12_[1]Photo: B.Mills1402052_468576886588178_251619902_oFree buses will be running on all of the December running days:2013.12.01 Timetable (Portrait)-1For further details –


Some Early Lines Helston Railway, Cornwall

Some Early Lines

 Helston Railway, Cornwall

Helston Phoenix LocoThis locomotive was purchased by three members of the Helston Diesel Group from the Northampton Ironstone Railway and delivered on the same day as another shunter.  In all respects its build history and design is exactly the same as the other shunter.

The shunter first ran under its own power on Sunday 3 October 2010 following overhaul by the railway’s volunteers and is now in use for passenger trains.

 The Helston Railway was a 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge) railway branch line in Cornwall, United Kingdom, opened in 1887 and absorbed by the Great Western Railway in 1898, continuing in existence as the Helston branch.

It was built to open up the agricultural district of south-west Cornwall, joining Helston to the main line railway network at Gwinear Road, between Penzance and Truro. It was 8.5 miles (13.7 km) long.

Its predominant business was agricultural, but in summer it carried holidaymakers, and its terminus at Helston was the railhead for a pioneering road connection service to the Lizard. During the Second World War there was considerable goods traffic at Nancegollan, sponsored by the Admiralty.

The Helston line was the southernmost branch line in the United Kingdom; it closed to passengers in 1962 and to goods in 1964.


MapThe line ran from Helston, in south-west Cornwall, to a junction with the main line of the Great Western Railway at Gwinear Road(50.1972°N 5.3475°W)(50.1070°N 5.2713°W). The connection there faced Penzance.

The line was 8 miles 67 chains in length. As a purely local line running through difficult terrain, it was heavily curved and graded. Although Helston is an important town, most of the intermediate area was dedicated to agriculture, with little population, and the terminus at Helston was some distance from the seaside.

The main line at Gwinear Road gave direct access to London and the rest of England, on the route that is now known as the Cornish Main Line.


Before the advent of the railway, Helston was an important centre for tin and copper mining, as well as being the hub of an area of considerable agricultural production. Local businessmen observed the success that followed the opening of early railways elsewhere in Cornwall and further afield, and from 1825 a succession of schemes for tramroads and railways were put forward, many of them oriented towards Falmouth or Penryn and the River Fal estuary because of the harbour facilities there, (and, later, the arrival of the Cornwall Railway, enabling onward transport of minerals by coastal shipping).

All of these schemes fell by the wayside due to the high cost of crossing the difficult terrain; after the collapse following the Railway Mania in the mid-1840s, money became increasingly scarce, and moreover the shallower seams in the mines began to become worked out, reducing the profitability of local mines.

Finally in 1879 the Helston Railway Company was formed, with a share capital of £70,000, with the object of building a standard gauge railway to Helston, not from the Falmouth area but from Gwinear Road on the West Cornwall line. The Great Western Railway was friendly towards this line, and they agreed to work the line when built.

The line received its Act of Parliament on 9 July 1880, and the first sod was cut at a ceremony on 22 March 1882. Work proceeded but the original contractor found himself in difficulties early in 1884 and work stopped for a period, but was resumed under Lang & Son of Liskeard.

Even as late as 1886 there was debate over the site of the Helston station; the site actually adopted, in Godolphin Road, was some distance to the east of the town centre. Some interests had proposed instead a location nearer the town; however the incremental cost would have been considerable and the proposal was finally dropped. The station was built as potentially a through station, with the idea of extension to the Lizard. This was revived from time to time, but was never acted upon.

The line was opened for the first service train on 9 May 1887

The line today

Although overgrown, much of the alignment of the line remains. Most of the bridges, including the Cober viaduct, are still in good condition as property of the Strategic Rail Authority.

Helston Station, Cornwall The former station at Helston has been surrounded by housing development, but the site is identifiable, north-west of Godolphin Road and between Station Road and Park an Harvey. The former GWR goods shed has been converted into part of a sheltered housing development (Henshorn Court), but all the other buildings have been demolished and the site has become wooded.

North from Helston the first visible trace of the railway is the stub of a bridge on the edge of the Water-Ma-Trout industrial estate.

At Nancegollan, a business park stands on the site of the former station, although the bridges remain in situ. At Praze, a house has been built on the station site and two road bridges either side of the approach have been demolished. The cuttings near to Gwinear Road have been in-filled.

Future Prospects and Railway Preservation

Cober ViaductCober Viaduct

 Since April 2005, The Helston Railway Preservation Company has undertaken extensive restoration work on the southernmost part of the line, between Prospidnick and Truthall.

As of June 2013, 1 mile of track has been re-laid, and public passenger rides are available on Thursdays, Sundays and bank holiday weekends from Easter through to October.

The Helston Railway had constructed a station platform on the Trevarno Estate, however they have now relocated 544 yards north to a new temporary platform site at Prospidnick Halt, as the Trevarno Estate has been purchased by new owners. The Trevarno Estate is now a private dwelling, instead of a tourist attraction and is not available for public access. The Helston Railway track itself is not affected and public access is now at Prospidnick, respectively.

What’s on in 2013

This is our second year of running services for customers, so it is likely that more events will be added as we go through the year. Therefore, please check details below before you come to see us.

Open every Thursday and Sunday and Bank holiday weekend until the 3rd November. Trains run every half hour from 10.30 am until 4pm.

Brake Van rides : Children under 5 free. Adult £5, Children (over 5) £3, Family £12 (2 adults and 3 children).

All Day Rovers: Adult £8, Children £6.

Footplate rides £10.

Special Events

Thursday 31st October. Its Halloween Day – themed buffet and fancy dress welcome! Open 10.30am to 4pm as usual.

December 14th &15th, 21st & 22nd. Santa Specials.


Some Early Lines – Bodmin & Wenford Railway & Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway

Some Early Lines

Bodmin & Wenford Railway


Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway

Bodmin & Wadebridge Map

History of the Line

The broad gauge (7ft 0¼ins) Cornwall Railway was opened between Plymouth and Truro in 1859. It had a station at Bodmin Road and became part of the Great Western Railway in 1876.

The Bodmin branch line was authorized by Act of Parliament on 10 August 1882. The first sod was cut in March 1884 and the line opened from Bodmin Road (now Bodmin Parkway) to Bodmin, a distance of 3½ miles, on 27 May 1887, built to standard gauge (4ft 8½ins).

A further line, from Bodmin to Boscarne Junction, a distance of 3 miles, was opened in September 1888 to connect with the existing Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway, which had opened back in 1834 (running from Wadebridge to Wenfordbridge, with a branch to Bodmin). The Bodmin & Wadebridge line was one of the first railways in the world to use steam locomotives and certainly the first in Cornwall, and was taken over by the London & South Western Railway in 1847.

HellandbridgeThe old railway line at Hellandbridge

The Wenford bridge branch of the Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway ran between these two buildings, and it was a tight squeeze. This is now part of the Camel Trail cycle path.  © Copyright Ron Strutt and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 30585-hellandHellandbridge – with and without a train!

The LSWR became part of the Southern Railway in 1923, and this formed the Southern Region of British Railways upon nationalization in 1948. BR Western Region, as successor to the GWR, took control of the SR stations in the area for commercial purposes from 1950-58, and gained complete control in January 1963.

Steam hauled passenger services ended on the line in 1963. Rationalisation started in June 1964 when a shuttle service was introduced between Bodmin North and Boscarne Junction, where new exchange facilities were established. Withdrawal of all passenger services between Padstow and Bodmin Road took place on 30 January 1967.

Freight trains continued to run between Bodmin Road and Wadebridge until September 1978. The line to Wenfordbridge remained open for china clay traffic until 03 October 1983, when complete closure of the route took place.

Efforts to preserve the branch line, with a view to reopening it as a heritage steam railway, began shortly after closure. The Bodmin Railway Preservation Society (BRPS) was thus formed in July 1984. In a bid to raise the £139,600 needed to purchase the line from Bodmin Parkway to Boscarne Junction, via Bodmin General, the Bodmin & Wenford Railway plc was formed by the Society. The Company successfully purchased the track, and North Cornwall District Council (now part of Cornwall Council) secured the land, from British Rail.

EPSON scanner imageBodmin (General) Station

View northward, to buffer-stops; ex-GWR terminus of branch from Bodmin Road (‘Bodmin Parkway’ since 4/11/84). The station and lines from Bodmin Road, also from Wadebridge were closed on 30/1/67, but on 31/3/86 the Heritage Bodmin & Wenford Railway began to operate trains again from Bodmin General.  © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The first Open Day was held on Sunday 1 June 1986, when a small steam locomotive – former Devonport Dockyard 0-4-0ST No 19 – performed shunting demonstrations at Bodmin General Station. These were the first authorised train movements in the preservation era, and thus the Bodmin & Wenford Railway is proud to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2011.

The necessary Light Railway Order was obtained on 31 August 1989. Regular services between Bodmin Parkway and Bodmin General were restored on 17 June 1990, and the line was extended back to Boscarne Junction six years later, on 15 August 1996.

Since then the Bodmin & Wenford Railway has operated trains – principally steam, but with some heritage diesel services – over the 6½ miles between Bodmin Parkway and Boscarne Junction via Bodmin General.

Station & SBBodmin Station and Signalbox

Bodmin General station is now the headquarters of the Bodmin & Wenford Railway. It currently operates trains between Bodmin Parkway, the junction with the main line, and Boscarne Junction, and has aims to extend along the closed line to Wadebridge.  © Copyright Ron Strutt and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The railway has now firmly established itself as one of the country’s finest steam railways, Cornwall’s only full size (standard gauge) railway still regularly operated by steam locomotives………and a great family attracktion!

Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway

Bodmin General Wadebridge

The Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway was a railway line opened in 1834 in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It linked the town of Bodmin with the harbour at Wadebridge and also quarries at Wenfordbridge. Its intended traffic was minerals to the port at Wadebridge and sea sand, used to improve agricultural land, inwards. Passengers were also carried on part of the line.

It was the first steam-powered railway line in the county and predated the main line to London by 25 years.

It was always desperately short of money, both for initial construction and for actual operation. In 1846 it was purchased by the London and South Western Railway, when that company hoped to gain early access to Cornwall for its network, but in fact those intentions were much delayed, and the little line was long isolated.

China clay extraction was developed at Wenfordbridge and sustained mineral traffic on the line for many years, but passenger use declined and the line closed to passengers in 1967, the china clay traffic continuing until 1978.

Much of the route now forms part of the Camel Trail, a cycle and footpath from Wenfordbridge to Padstow

The present Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway Company Ltd is connected with the Bodmin & Wenford Railway organisation and is working towards the reinstatement of the railway line from Boscarne Junction to Wadebridge (Guineport) on behalf of the Bodmin & Wenford Railway.

The Bodmin & Wenford Railway is a heritage railway running mainly steam trains from Bodmin Parkway to Boscarne Junction via Bodmin General.

The Bodmin & Wenford Railway is run mainly by volunteers who are members of the Bodmin Railway Preservation Society and is supported by the Bodmin & Wenford Railway Trust

At Wadebridge