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hayfield

South Devon Railway + DSR

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Been in the area for 10 days or so last visited the Dart Valley Railway at Ashburton 48 yeasts ago in the days when you could wander anywhere and the Torbay Steam railway had an aborted visit 42 years ago when we arrived a week before the season started

 

Now what was the Dart Valley Railway being the South Devon Railway, still just as pretty as far as the scenery is concerned, but the stock is almost invisible for the enthusiast, little on show and what is mostly in pieces. They seem to have fallen behind other societies in the ability to exhibit what they have

 

In my opinion Ashburton was the jewel in the crown such a great pity it’s not been added back into the system as the station complex is an important part of out industrial history

 

What I knew as the Torbay Steam Railway was well worth the visit just for the journey, first the stunning costal views followed by the journey down the estuary. For me the BR era holds little interest, blue Kings and BR standard class locos not my favourite, certainly when the fabric is set out in GWR era and not BR. I can understand the difficulty in not having the ability at both termani having little space to show off its stock and that its clearly part of a much wider tourist attraction with heritage paddle steamers and road transport and dovetailing with other attractions

 

Still both well worth the visit especially as one journey was in the Observation car, unexpected surprise in seeing the EM gauge Ashburton layout and good to seen both thriving

Edited by hayfield
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I have visited both lines quite regularly in recent years having known them both since almost the beginning. (edit - well obviously the beginning of preservation - not when they were built!)

 

The Torbay and Dartmouth line is a lovely ride, but for atmosphere I much prefer the South Devon. I do agree it is a shame that stock in good condition is not all on display though I understand some of the reasons.

By chance I went to the South Devon yesterday.  After my train had departed Buckfastleigh back to Totnes I noticed a shunt move start to take place to re-position stock from the carriage shed. 

 

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Class 09 D3721, Special saloon 9005.

 

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Dynamometer car W7, Victorian saloon 249.

 

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Autotrailer 240 (?)

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Siphon G 1316.

Edit - to add stock details. All taken at Buckfastleigh 18/9/2018

 

cheers

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Edited by Rivercider
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That autocoach needs a strong application of T-Cut :yes: :yes: :) :)

 

Thanks for sharing, I was particularly impressed with the two clerestories.

 

I last went to the Torbay Railway 25 years ago and found it to be soulless somehow.

 

Dave

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The SDR is seeking to move forward with its coaching stock, with the new shed being completed beyond the engineering works for undercover accommodation. As ever the principal issue with completeing the Buckfastleigh redevelopment has been money or lack thereof, with a lot of hard work done to get things moving forward and secure funding.

It would be great to have better views of the engineering shop and C&W as both are producing lots of interesting and high quality work, I am sure there are further plans for both.

Glad to hear you enjoyed your visit, both lines have their unique charms and we are fortunate in having them here.

I would recommend an occasionally muddy but always beautiful walk along the old track bed of the Kingsbridge branch, the section from Loddiswell Station towards Gara Bridge is particularly beautiful at most tones of the year.

Edited by devondynosoar118

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The SDR is seeking to move forward with its coaching stock, with the new shed being completed beyond the engineering works for undercover accommodation. As ever the principal issue with completeing the Buckfastleigh redevelopment has been money or lack thereof, with a lot of hard work done to get things moving forward and secure funding.

It would be great to have better views of the engineering shop and C&W as both are producing lots of interesting and high quality work, I am sure there are further plans for both.

Glad to hear you enjoyed your visit, both lines have their unique charms and we are fortunate in having them here.

I would recommend an occasionally muddy but always beautiful walk along the old track bed of the Kingsbridge branch, the section from Loddiswell Station towards Gara Bridge is particularly beautiful at most tones of the year.

Thanks for the info.

 

I did not realise there was a new stock shed around the corner, a SDR volunteer, who also watched the shunt move told me about it.

I was surprised that the shunt move, which took over 20 minutes to make, seemed to attract no attention whatsoever from any visitors.

I thought it was a fascinating bit of 'proper' railway work taking place,

 

cheers

Edited by Rivercider
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I would recommend an occasionally muddy but always beautiful walk along the old track bed of the Kingsbridge branch, the section from Loddiswell Station towards Gara Bridge is particularly beautiful at most times of the year.

 

I would also recommend this walk. Having lived very close to the other end of it I have walked it in all weathers. 

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I do understand that the cost of buying back the land and buildings let alone reinstating track work and infrastructure would be extremely high. As I said to a certain degree this would be a unique opportunity to preserve in working order part of our industrial heritage and certainly putting the buildings back into their original use must be the most beneficial option. If it were something to do with either music or art no doubt public funds would be forth coming Pity groups like English Heritage or the National Trust could not help out

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I would also recommend this walk. Having lived very close to the other end of it I have walked it in all weathers.

I am one of those who think the Kingsbridge branch (Primrose Line) to have been more worthy of preservation than the Buckfastleigh one - but then we wouldn't be able to walk it.

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I do understand that the cost of buying back the land and buildings let alone reinstating track work and infrastructure would be extremely high. As I said to a certain degree this would be a unique opportunity to preserve in working order part of our industrial heritage and certainly putting the buildings back into their original use must be the most beneficial option. If it were something to do with either music or art no doubt public funds would be forth coming Pity groups like English Heritage or the National Trust could not help out

How can you 'buy back' the land when most of it is under the A38, the reason the line was closed in the first place!

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How can you 'buy back' the land when most of it is under the A38, the reason the line was closed in the first place!

When I drove in I noticed the road was elevated above ground level. Whilst speaking with one of the volunteers it seems possible to lower the ground level under the road to gain clearance. I got the impression it was technically achievable, however the cost of the whole project is at the moment not financially feasible

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In my teens I was a volunteer on the DVR around the late 60’s. In those days the A38 bridge was still to be built and there was still a desperate hope that the line to Ashburton could be retained. Sadly this was not to be the case. In those days the line was very picturesque and the trains were either autocoaches and auto fitted loco’s 14xx or 64xx, or corridor stock with a small prairie in charge. Buckfastleigh had not acquired any extra train sheds and was still in its original and beautiful condition.

 

I performed various roles as a volunteer including guard duty and signalman at Buckfastleigh. I volunteered as a guard over the Ashburton special weekend when trains ran through to Ashburton. This included a 9 coach special that transferred over from the main line at Totnes and was pulled to Ashburton behind one of the small prairies (either 4555 or 4588). I remember that due to the volume of traffic and the train being too long to run round at Ashburton the only engine left to pull the train out of Ashburton back to Buckfastleigh was one of the 14xx auto tanks. Fortunately the line dropped almost all the way from Ashburton to Buckfastleigh with the exception of a short incline leading into Buckfastleigh station and so the 14xx was really only required to operate the vacuum brakes. All went to plan and the small prairie followed on behind and took over the train at Buckfastleigh, but it must have been the only time in history when a 14xx locomotive was rostered to pull a 9 coach train.

 

My understanding, although I don’t know all the ins and outs, is that the Dartmouth line effectively took most of the stock from the DVR and left it with what the Dartmouth line didn’t want. The DVR subsequently split away from the Dartmouth line and have since battled on alone but inevitably were on the back foot after the split.

 

The last time I visited Buckfastleigh it was barely recognisable because of the changes resulting from the building of the A38 and the expansion of the facilities. I felt quite sad when I saw it but I completely understand why it had to change.

 

There remains a faint hope that Ashburton could once again be joined to the DVR but it will need a lot of money and the alignment of many ducks to pull off.

 

Thanks for starting the blog and reminding me of the very happy times I spent on the DVR.

 

Frank

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Discussions about the restoration of the railway to Ashburton rumble on in the background of everyday life in that part of Devon. Rebuilding the line alongside the A38, and a tunnel underneath at an appropriate location (not a cheap thing to fund!) usually form the easier parts of such proposals.  The trickier part is convincing the council that bringing tourists to Ashburton is a good idea! The council plan to demolish the station area and rebuild with houses and warehouses has for the time being been successfully challenged, giving time to the railway supporters to build their own case. For further details on this story, start here.

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The SDR trust have previously stated restoration of services into Ashburton is not in their plans for the line. If money was no object it could be technically feasible it seems the trust has decided (rightly IMO) to focus its efforts on sustainable development of its existing facilities with a view to improving coaching stock standards by making it easier for them to be stored undercover and providing better workshop space for C&W.

I would have loved the Primrose Line to still be there to ride on, it’s a glorious route and the station site at Kingsbridge deserved better than to see its building demolished over a weekend in an underhanded manner to leave an ugly pile of rubble for 6 years instead of a fine William Clarke building that has been visited by Eisenhower, Montgomery and played a role in both world wars.

We should be thankful the intermediate stations have been better cared for and that sections of the line are still there to be enjoyed so long after closure.

I have to be content with battling to produce it in miniature instead!

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I would have loved the Primrose Line to still be there to ride on, it’s a glorious route and the station site at Kingsbridge deserved better than to see its building demolished over a weekend in an underhanded manner to leave an ugly pile of rubble for 6 years instead of a fine William Clarke building that has been visited by Eisenhower, Montgomery and played a role in both world wars.

We should be thankful the intermediate stations have been better cared for and that sections of the line are still there to be enjoyed so long after closure.

I have to be content with battling to produce it in miniature instead!

 

Please could you enlighten those of us who are unaware of what happened please

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The station building at the Kingsbridge terminus was used by the GPO after the closure, it sat semi derelict behind warehouses on the site but visible from the road for many years.

It was reputedly on a temporary listing to protect it, although I have no source other than local chatter for that.

Over the course the of a weekend (supposedly to avoid scrutiny from planners or the listed building officer) contractors moved in and knocked the whole lot down. The original canopy brackets were sold off as was any decorative parts that could be re used. The rest of the stone was largely dumped on site and has been steadily dwindling away ever since. Only a section of the platform right in the corner of the old site remains, plus the goods shed and the wall behind the signal box. The rest is hidden by industrial buildings or gone. Thankfully the goods shed is in good order but the loading bay canopy has been removed recently.

I have pictures of the demolition but they are not digital and the photographer who gave them to me did so on the strict proviso that I didn’t share them on the web, since he was given permission by the contractors to take the pictures but they knew what they were up to was a grey area legally, so asked he not share them. Several RM Webbers have seen them, I have taken them to the Taunton members day in the past too. I can probably set some up with a private link on Google Drive if people are interested.

Here is the end of the platform as it is today, the station building was to the left beyond the caravan.

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Edited by devondynosoar118

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I have never heard of 'temporary listing'. The whole idea of listing a building was that it is permanent and protects the building (in theory, at least) forever - or at least until the local authority gives Listed Building Consent to remove or alter it. (CJL)

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Presumably any effort to retain this branch would have entailed a main line connection at South Brent, always assuming BR was cooperative. Not a lot of room there or space for any expansion so most stock would be held at Kingsbridge with its basic engine facilities, which would be better than nothing. The SDR would have had some space at Staverton, Buckfast and Ashburton if all had gone well.

 

Brian.

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What happened was the preservationists negotiated to buy the Kingsbridge line, but the ministry in London had already signed a scrap contract for the infrastructure which they wouldn’t go back on, thus preserving it failed and the people involved in the Kingsbridges scheme transferred their money and efforts to the SDR.

One died, the other survived.

The SDR used Totnes BR station for a time until BR changed the rules or the layout (can’t remember which) and the SDR had to develop Riverside and the bridge to Totnes entirely at their expense.

The two books on the Kingsbridge line are well worth reading, lots of interesting stuff in both, plus many photos of the branch.

Edited by devondynosoar118
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Presumably any effort to retain this branch would have entailed a main line connection at South Brent, always assuming BR was cooperative. Not a lot of room there or space for any expansion so most stock would be held at Kingsbridge with its basic engine facilities, which would be better than nothing. The SDR would have had some space at Staverton, Buckfast and Ashburton if all had gone well.

 

Brian.

 

Gara Bridge could have held a reasonable amount of stock. The siding at Avonwick had already gone by the time of closure, however the siding space at Loddiswell was still present. 

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A little bit of a diesel update for those who are interested, The South Devon Diesel Trust today have announced that they have reached a deal with Dart Valley PLC (operators of the Paignton and Dartmouth) to permanently swap Buckfastleigh based D6975 (Class 37275) with Paignton based D7535 (Class 25185). The reason for this being that the Paignton and Dartmouth require a loco with a little more power allowing them to operate longer trains, while the South Devon Diesel Trust already owns and operates 2 other class 25s so D7535 will be in good safe hands. 

 

The last operating day of D6975 will be Saturday the 29th of September where it'll then move over to Paignton and will participate in the PDRs Diesel Day next Saturday, while the 25 will make the move to Buckfastleigh a week later on the 12th of October. 

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 the South Devon Diesel Trust already owns and operates 2 other class 25s so D7535 will be in good safe hands. 

They might own two but only one is operational, the other is in the middle of a rather big overhaul/rebuild.

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