Daily Archives: January 6, 2011

Some Early Lines – The Moretonhampstead and South Devon Railway

The Moretonhampstead and South Devon Railway

It is the last day of regular passenger services on the Moretonhampstead branch and 51xx class 2-6-2T tackles the final three miles of 1 in 50 to the terminus with the 2.15pm train from Newton Abbot.  The date is 28th February, 1959.  Peter F. Bowles

The Moretonhampstead and South Devon Railway was a 7 ft 0 14 in (2,140 mm) broad gauge railway which linked the South Devon Railway at Newton Abbot Railway station with Bovey Tracey and Moretonhampstead, Devon, England.  The broad gauge was converted to standard gauge in 1892.

The railway opened on 26 June 1866, the last passenger trains ran on 28 February 1959, regular goods trains continuing until 6 April 1964. The last special passenger train ran up to Bovey Tracey on 5 July 1970. Oil and china clay trains continued to operate occasionally on the south section of the line below Heathfield (Devon) railway station for several years, however the remaining section of the branch was taken out of use in 2009 when ‘temporary stop blocks’ were placed on the line 53 chains (1.1 km) from the junction at Newton Abbot.Newton Abbot station canopy over platforms 2 and 1, looking north towards London.

© Copyright Derek Harper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

This line opened in1866 and after a period of ownership by the South Devon Company, which acquired it in 1872, it was purchased by the Great Western Railway in 1878 in time to reap the benefit of the enthusiasm for Dartmoor which infected holiday makers towards the end of the century.  The usual decline inn traffic influenced the company’s decision to close the line in the nineteen fifties and although a part had been kept open for the carriage of china clay from the Bovey Tracey area, and a weekly goods train to that town, the last passenger train ran in June 1960 just before demolition and track lifting began, although the line had been closed officially since 1959.

The railway started from Newton Abbot, the first stop being Teigngrace. 

Abandoned station, originally called Teigngrace Halt, is on a branch line from Newton Abbot to Heathfield. Now a huge trading estate but once an equally huge army camp in WWII. The tracks are still there and I have seen shunters on it. There was a branch off this line to Chudleigh and beyond, but that was ripped up due to the Beeching cuts.

Copyright Anthony Volante and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Bearing a little west, Heathfield came next where the Plymouth to Exeter road crosses the line.  Taking the road to Bovey Tracey the track ran parallel with it to join it at Brimley with Bovey Tracey station a short distance farther along. Bovey, for Ilsington Station (remains)

View northward, towards Moretonhampstead; ex-GWR (Newton Abbot) – Heathfield – Moretonhampstead branch. The station and the service to Moretonhampstead was closed on 2/3/59 (goods 6/4/64, but oil was brought to Bovey from Heathfield until 4/5/70).
The station – ‘Tracey’ in the name – seemed to be still well-preserved in 1964.
© Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

Beyond Bovey Tracey the track bore left and a couple of miles later left again for Lustleigh, the station made famous by the filming there of a sequence from Conan Doyle’s ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’. Lustleigh Alsop6-1921  disused-stations-org-uk.

This station can be seen quite easily from the roadway, but to see the Pullabrook Halt one should make for the Bovey River.  The last stretch of trackway is seen from the A382 which accompanies it to Moretonhampstead.Moretonhampstead.  Auto fitted 0-4-2T No.1466 waits at Moretonhampstead terminus in October 1958.  P.J.Garland