Some Early Lines – Taunton – Barnstaple Line

Some Early Lines 

Taunton – Barnstaple Line

EPSON scanner imageBarnstaple (Victoria Road) Station

View eastward, towards Taunton, from buffer-stops of disused terminus of former GWR line from Taunton, which also connected with the SR line at Barnstaple Junction until the line was closed entirely on 3/10/66. Meanwhile this station had been closed to passengers on 13/6/60 but to Goods (from Barnstaple Junction) not until 5/3/70.  © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The beginning of October 1966 marked the closure of the Taunton – Barnstaple route which diverged at Norton Fitzwarren Junction. Over 45 years have passed since communities such as Wiveliscombe, Dulverton, Milverton and South Molten have been cut off from the mainline network. The line was built to Brunel’s broad gauge by the Devon and Somerset Railway and was opened through to Wiveliscombe on the 1st of November 1871. Heavy engineering further west slowed the progress of construction to Barnstaple delaying the completion of the route until June 1873.The line was later converted to standard gauge between 15th & 17th May 1881 and then, twenty years later, the Devon and Somerset Railway was bought by the Great Western Railway in whose ownership the line remained until nationalization in 1948.


A South MoltonTaunton freight crossing the River Exe near Dulverton on August 28th, 1961.  (M.J.Fox

The Taunton to Barnstaple line must rank as one of the prettiest in the West Country. It runs through picturesque, thickly wooded scenery, and there are many impressive sights on the line. The most memorable being Filleigh Viaduct from which a magnificent view is obtained. The Taunton-Wiveliscombe section of the line was opened in 1871 and the Barnstaple section 2 years later. The reason for the closure is that, despite the change over 3 years ago, from the old steam engines to the modern diesels, the line has steadily lost passengers.

2The 8.12am Barnstaple – Taunton wanders away from Wiveliscombe.  (M.J.Fox

3TC Wolverhampton – Ilfracombe; 6363 leaving Dulverton on August 22, 1964.  (M.J.Fox


7333 climbs into the loop at Venn Cross with a Taunton – Barnstaple Junction freight in August, 1961.  (M.J.Fox

Barnstaple Town StnBarnstaple Town Station

View SE, towards Barnstaple Junction and Exeter; ex-London & South Western Exeter – Barnstaple Junction – Ilfracombe line, closed beyond Barnstaple Junction 5/10/70. Ex–Great Western trains via Taunton also ran to Ilfracombe until the line from Taunton was closed from 3/10/66, running to Barnstaple (Victoria Road) (SeeSS5632 : Barnstaple (Victoria Road) Station), joining the SR just south of Barnstaple Junction. In the foreground is the site of the terminus of the abandoned Lynton & Barnstaple narrow-gauge railway, closed 29/9/35.  © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.



One response to “Some Early Lines – Taunton – Barnstaple Line

  1. Such a shame these old branch lines were closed… so much traffic could be taken off the roads. How short sighted of those in power !

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