Tag Archives: Devon

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Teign Valley Line

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Christow, Teign Valley Railway

Christow, Teign Valley Railway

Teign Valley Railway

This line, authorised on 13 July 1863 in broad gauge between Bovey Tracey and Doddiscombesleigh, needed nine Acts before it finally opened on 9 October 1882, standard gauge between Heathfield (South Devon & Moretonhampstead Railway) and Ashton. An extension to Teign House, Christow was opened later. The line was built under GWR protection (the L&SWR had expressed interest), and the GWR worked it, despite its isolation, until the conversion of the SD&MR to standard gauge (23 May 1892). Ashton station had a timber platform and a raised causeway for access when the River Teign flooded, and the site of Chudleigh station is now beneath the A38 trunk road. The Exeter Railway gave the line a link to Exeter in 1903. The last passenger train ran on 7 August 1958, the last goods to Christow on 1 May 1961, the line closing completely on 4 December 1967.

Heathfield Junction,Devon. 1970

Heathfield Junction,Devon. 1970

Rosser1954 Devon, England. Licensing:  I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.

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 – http://www.plymrail.co.uk/


Narrow Gauge – Bickington Steam Railway

Bickington Steam Railway

Trago MillsNewton Abbot, Miniature Railway at Trago Mills

The railway gives a real value for money ride as it tours the whole complex.  © Copyright Neil Kennedy and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Technical – Track length 11⁄2 mi (2.4 km)

Track gauge – 10 1⁄4 in (260 mm)

Located at Trago Mills Regional Shopping Centre, Newton Abbot, the 10 1⁄4 in (260 mm) minimum gauge Bickington Steam Railway was opened in 1988, using equipment recovered from the Suffolk Wildlife Park, which itself was taken from Rudyard Lake. It was built by Brian Nicholson, the headmaster of Waterhouses School in Staffordshire. Waterhouses was the junction for the Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway. After being thwarted in an attempt to rebuild a portion of the Leek and Manifold Valley railway, Nicholson moved his railway, via Rudyard Lake and Suffolk, to Trago Mills.

Riverside Station, Trago MillsRiverside Station, Trago Mills

A narrow gauge railway with steam hauled trains is one of the attractions within the popular Trago Mills shopping complex.  © Copyright Richard Dorrell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Originally the railway was a 1 mile (1.6 km) double loop around two lakes with one station, ‘Trago Central’, but in 2006 the railway grew over 1⁄2 miles (805 m), with an extension taking it to Trago’s front car park. A three-track terminus and turntable was built and named the ‘Riverside Station’. A third station was added in 2008, located at the far end of the Trago site on one of the original sections of line; this was named ‘Goose Glen Halt’. This was constructed in the hope that shoppers would use the ride to return to their vehicles, a near half-mile uphill walk from the main shopping complex.

Santa's Diese;Diesel hauled train – Trago Mills

A two loco service for trips to Santa’s Grotto. The line has both steam and diesel miniature locomotives. The diesel was sharing with the US style steam locomotive No. 24.  © Copyright Chris Allen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Over a section of this line, the railway climbs one of the steepest inclines for any non rack railway in the UK. The railway is a member of Britains Great Little Railways

Min Rly Taking waterMiniature railway, Trago Mills

An excellent live steam experience with a two mile run, three stations, lots of scenery and a hop-on hop-off all day ticket is £2. Very popular on this particular day. The loco is one four steam engines – No.24 Sandy River 2-6-2 tender engine based on the Sandy River and Rangley Lakes railway in New England. Built by Clarkson, Vere & Nicholson and completed in 1991. See – Link  © Copyright Chris Allen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Narrow Gauge Lines – Bicton Woodland Railway, Devon

Narrow Gauge Lines

Bicton Woodland Railway


Locale England, Dates of operation 1963–Present

Track gauge, 1 ft 6 in (457 mm), Length 1359 yards

Headquarters Budleigh Salterton

The Bicton Woodland Railway is a narrow gauge railway running in gardens in the grounds of Bicton House near Budleigh Salterton in Devon.

The line was built in 1962 as a tourist attraction for visitors to the house. Most of the rolling stock was acquired from the Royal Arsenal Railway, Woolwich, with two locomotives, Woolwich and Carnegie coming from that source, as well as seven goods wagons which were reduced to their frames and converted to passenger carriages. It opened to passengers in 1963. Originally locomotives and carriages had royal blue livery.

Bicton from Forum RPS Mag Summer 1964Bicton from Forum RPS Mag Summer 1964

Additional rolling stock was acquired from the RAF Fauld railway and the internal railway of the LNWR Wolverton works.

In 1998 the Bicton Gardens were put up for sale and the railway put into hiatus. The new owners sold the line’s existing stock and in 2000 took delivery of a 5.5-tonne diesel-powered replica tank engine. The line’s original equipment was purchased by the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills museum at Waltham Abbey.

Bicton from Forum RPS mag Spec Spring 1965Bicton from Forum RPS mag Spec Spring 1965

A treat for all ages

A scenic ride around the park on Bicton Woodland Railway is a treat for children and grown-ups alike. It’s also something special for railway enthusiasts, because BWR runs on the only 18-inch (457 mm) gauge leisure line left in Britain. The train operates all year, making regular 25-minute trips, for which there is a small extra charge.

The train departs from Bicton Station and winds its way through the Pinetum, home to many of our champion trees, to Hermitage Station at the far end of the park. From there, it takes you back along the banks of the Great Lake to complete its journey of around 1.5 miles (2.4 km).

Custom built for us in 2000, our replica tank engine Sir Walter Raleigh was named after the 16th-century adventurer, who was born near Bicton. The 5.5-tonne loco hauls up to four 24-seater coaches, all of which are roofed to keep you dry on rainy days.


Some Early Lines – North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway

Some Early Lines

North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway

Map of the Line

North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway

North Devon Railway

Torrington –  River Torridge – Watergate Halt –  Yarde Halt – Dunsbear Halt

Marland Works – Petrockstow –  Meeth Works –  Wooladon Clay Pits

Meeth Halt – Hatherleigh –  Hole –   Okehampton to Bude Line to Bude

 North Cornwall Railway

Halwill Junction –   Okehampton to Bude Line to Okehampton

Highampton: Course of the Railway

The line was the North Devon & Cornwall Junction Light Railway, the last significant railway to be constructed in the south west, opened in July 1925. It linked Great Torrington with Halwill Junction where there were trains to Exeter, Bude and Padstow. Looking east  © Copyright Martin Bodman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway was a railway built to serve numerous ball clay pits that lay in the space between the London and South Western Railway’s Torrington branch, an extension of the North Devon Railway group, and Halwill, an important rural junction on the North Cornwall Railway and its Okehampton to Bude Line.

Ball clay was an important mineral but its weight and bulk required efficient transportation; the material had been brought to main line railways by a 3 ft (914 mm) gauge tramway. Expanding volumes prompted conversion to a light railway — requiring less complex engineering and operational procedures than a full railway — and it was opened on 27 July 1925.

Hatherleigh – images.mitrasites.com

Passengers were carried in addition to the mineral traffic, but the business largely consisted of workers at the ball clay pits themselves. (Thomas says, “The largest place on the railway is Hatherleigh … a market town in the centre of a barren countryside, it is badly decayed”.)

The conversion from a tramway was overseen by Colonel Stephens, the famous owner and operator of marginal English and Welsh railways. Although in construction details typically Stephens this was visually a Southern Railway branch line . It survived in independent status until nationalisation of the railways in 1948, and continued in operation until 1 March 1965. The northern part from Meeth and Marland, which was reconstructed from the narrow gauge railway, continued to carry ball clay, but not passengers, until August 1982.

Meeth Halt (disused)

The North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway closed in 1965. This must always have been a tiny station. It now serves as a starting point for a cyclepath along the former line as a branch of the Tarka Trail.  © Copyright Derek Harper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Built as cheaply as possible, and partly following the alignment of the former tramway, the railway had continuous sharp curves and ruling gradients in the range of 1 in 45 to 1 in 50.

The line was single throughout, worked by Electric Train Token, and with a maximum speed of 20 mph from Torrington to Dunsbear Halt, and 25 mph from there to Halwill.

The 1964/65 working timetable shows two throughout trains each way daily, taking about 80 minutes by diesel multiple unit for the 20 mile journey. There were three freight trains Mondays to Fridays serving the clay sidings from the Torrington end. There were no trains on Sundays.

Halwill Junction – images.mitrasite.com


One for the Summer – The Seaton Tramway, Devon

The Seaton Tramway


A day out to look forward to

Seaton Tramway Terminus

Southern end of the line from Seaton to Colyton.

© Copyright Chris Coleman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The Seaton Tramway is an 838 mm (2 ft 9 in) narrow gauge electric tramway which operates over the route of a a former British Railways branch line in Seaton, Devon. The line was converted between 1969 and 1971 by Claude Lane, who had bought the line from BR and had successfully operated trams in Eastbourne as a visitor attraction.

Tram number 2 leaving Seaton

© Copyright Sarah Charlesworth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The 3-mile (4.8 km) route runs through East Devon’s Axe Valley, between the coastal resort of Seaton, the small village of Colyford and the ancient town of Colyton.

Thirteen tram cars are part of the visitor attraction which sees about 80,000 visitors per year. The tram cars are half-scale (1:2) replicas of classic British tram cars from various cities.

 Never mind the weather! Our trams run every day throughout the season. See wildlife and discover Devon’s hidden secrets, find out about our history and travel in our “time machines”! Start your journey at Seaton and ride inland to Colyton, one of Devon’s hidden jewels, or start at Colyton and arrive at Seaton, the gateway to the Jurassic Coast.End of the line, at Colyton

The Seaton Tramway terminates at this point, though the old Seaton railway branch used to continue north to Seaton Junction.

  © Copyright Roger Cornfoot  and licensed for reuse under thisCreative Commons License .

Visit our Gift shop at Colyton Station an Aladdin’s cave stocked with a variety of exciting gifts to suit all pockets and interests.

The Tramstop Restaurant – a fantastic choice of freshly home-cooked food using local produce to suit all tastes and ages.

Discount for families and groups; pre-booked groups welcome all year round. Wheelchair accessible (advance booking necessary). Drive a tram, lessons available. Bird watching, Santa Specials, Classic Car Show, Children’s Birthday Parties. Family discounts available – there must be 1 paying child travelling in the family group.

Look out for  special events during the year.

Trams at Seaton

Open topped double decker and open sided ‘toastrack’ type trams at Seaton

© Copyright Chris Coleman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines – Culm Valley Light Railway

Some Early Lines –

Culm Valley Light Railway

From Tavistock Junction to Hemyock.

Map – Nick Catford, Roy Lambeth http://www.disused-stations.org.uk

The Culm Valley Light Railway was a railway that operated in Devon, England. Opened in 1876, it was built by local enterprise. The line was purchased by the Great Western Railway, which had operated it from the start, in 1880. The line closed to passengers in 1963 but served the milk depot at Hemyock until 1975.Planning and Construction

Receiving Royal Assent t in 1873, construction started the next year. There were delays but the line opened on 29 May 1876. Typically low budget it followed existing boundaries and the Culm Valley and avoided the need for any major engineering works. After early plans for eastward expansion faded, the line settled down to serve the local area, and eked out a quiet existence carrying sparse local passengers, agricultural produce and the output of a large dairy plant at Hemyock.Operation

Operated by the Great Western from its inception, it was transferred to the Western Region of British Railways on nationalisation in 1948. Services worked to Tiverton Junction on the Bristol o Exeter line, and some through workings to and from Tiverton on the Exe Valley Railway. The Tiverton Junction train had the nickname “The Tivvy Bumper”, a nickname that one of the preserved 1400 class locos, 1442, carries to this day.Motive power and rolling stock

Motive power was provided largely by the Charles Collett designed GWR 1400 Class 0-4-2T steam locomotive. Freight stock was a mixed bag of trucks and carriage stock was limited to a few old four wheel carriages by the sharp curves which were a legacy of the line’s original economic construction. Even after nationalisation, British Railways were obliged to use two ex- Barry Railway gas lit four wheel coaches on the line. This was necessary as the speed limit on the line was too low for the dynamos on most coaches to power electric lighting.

Decline and closure

The service was always slow and vulnerable to increasing road transport and car ownership. Passenger use declined and so the railway closed to passengers on 9 September 1963, and to general freight on the 6 September 1965. However, the line continued to serve the dairy at Hemyock until 31 October 1975. During this time it received visits from the occasional railtour.The line today

Today the line forms some popular riverside walks at various points along the valley. The reopening of the line has been raised but this is unlikely as the M5 motorway has been built over the track with no bridge. The station sites have been redeveloped.

Some Early Lines – Torbay & Brixham Railway

Some Early Lines

Torbay & Brixham Railway

Brixham Station – The Tony Harden Collection

Situated on the South Devon coast the Torbay and Brixham Railway was a 7 ft 0 14 in (2,140 mm) broad gauge railway which linked the Dartmouth & Torbay Railway at Churston Railway Station, Devon with the important fishing port of Brixham. It was a little over two miles long.

The railway was largely built due to the work of Richard Walter Wolston, a local solicitor, and was sold to the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1883.


  • 1861 Dartmouth & Torbay Railway opened to Churston Railway Station
  • 1864 Torbay and Brixham Railway authorised by Act of Parliament1864 Dartmouth and Torbay Railway extended to Kingswear Railway Station
  • 1868 Torbay and Brixham Railway opened
  • 1872 Dartmouth and Torbay Railway amalgamated with the South Devon Railway
  • 1876 South Devon Railway amalgamated with the Great Western Railway
  • 1883 Torbay and Brixham Railway sold to the Great Western Railway
  • 1892 The broad gauge converted to standard gauge
  • 1948 Great Western Railway nationalised into British Railways
  • 1963 Brixham line closed

Brixham Station

View southward, buffer-stops on left; ex-GWR terminus of branch from Churston, which was closed 13/5/63.    © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The railway station had a single platform and a goods shed opposite. An engine shed and another small goods yard were situated at the Churston end of the station. It had to be constructed on the hill above the town in order that the gradients between Brixham and Churston were not too steep.

On March 4th, 1961,  No. 1470 pulls out of Churston with the 11.13am for Brixham.  Peter F.Bowles.

Brixham was the location of Roxham station in The System, a 1964 film. An early scene sees most of the main characters at the station, either arriving on a train hauled by a British Rail Class 22 locomotive, or waiting there to see who is arriving in the town for a holiday.


Broad gauge 0-4-0T “Queen” built by E. B. Wilson & Co. for the Portland Breakwater Railway in 1853, in use at Portland before it went to the Torbay & Brixham Railway in 1870. It once fell into the sea — hence the awkward chimney repair. – John Speller’s Web Pages.

Queen – An 0-4-0WT locomotive built by E.B.Wilson & Co.

Gauge – 7’ 0¼”,  Driving Wheel – 4’ 0”,  Wheelbase – 8’ 0”,   Cylinders – 10½” x 17”

Queen was built by E.B.Wilson & Co. in 1852 and was used for several years at the Isle of Portland in the construction of the harbour thereAlthough the railway was initially worked by the South Devon Railway, the Torbay and Brixham Railway purchased this little locomotive to haul the trains. The South Devon Railway were to pay £3 per day for the privilege, however the railway soon had to mortgage Queen to the South Devon for £350 to cover its debt to that company. In 1883 it passed to the Great Western Railway, which immediately withdrew it from service.

King – A 2-4-0T locomotive built by the Avonside Engine Co.

Gauge – 7’ 0¼”,  Leading wheel diameter – 2’ 6”, Driving Wheel diameter – 3’ 0”,

Wheelbase – 9’ 6”,  Cylinders – 9”x16”

       A second locomotive was ordered by the Torbay and Brixham Railway for the South Devon Railway but in the end the latter company paid for it and it worked in its fleet. See South Devon Railway 2-4-0 locomotives for further information.

Raven – An 0-4-0ST locomotive built by the Avonside Engine Co.

Gauge – 7’ 0¼”,  Driver diameter – 3’ 0”,  Wheelbase – 7’ 6”,  Cylinders 14”x17”

    Raven had been built for the South Devon Railway as part of their Raven Class for shunting dockside lines at Plymouth. In 1877, now also carrying their number 2175, it was sold by the Great Western Railway to the Torbay and Brixham to assist Queen.

Great Western Locomotives

After 1883 the Great Western Railway provided various small locomotives from its fleet to operate the Brixham branch. Up until 1892 broad gauge locomotives were provided such as ex-South Devon Railway 2-4-0 Prince and GWR Hawthorn Class 2-4-0Ts.

After the line was converted to standard gauge on 23 May 1892 a number of small tank locomotives found themselves spending time at Brixham, including the unique 4-4-0ST 13. In later years standard GWR 1400 Class 0-4-2Ts worked the autotrain. At Churston the branch train once left for Brixham but this is now a matter of history.  On the last day of the regular steam haulage 14xx class 0-4-2 tank No.1470 hurries the 11.56 am auto along the branch.  It is the 4th March, 1961.  Peter F. Bowles.

Brixham Station – robertdarlaston.co.uk

The final trains were worked by British Rail Class 122 single-car DMUs.