>> David Shepherd, C.B.E., F.R.S.A., 1931 - 2017 >>
>> The Genus Grockle Automobilus >>
>> RAMBLES AROUND EXETER >>
>> Once Busy Bus Stops >>
>> Searching for Albion >>
>> Railway Nomenclature >>
>> Visit by the Dartmoor Railway Supporters' Association >>
>> The Railway - British Track Since 1804 >>
>> Exmouth Miniature Railway >>
>> DVD Review: Branch Lines of Devon—Volume 1 >>
>> A Very British Map: The Ordnance Survey Story >>
>> Charity HST Special, 10th October, 2015 >>
>> David St. John Thomas, 1929-2014 >>
>> Visit by the Dartmoor Society >>
>> A Strange Place to Find a Shipwreck >>
>> Bovey Lane Crossing Saved >>
>> Special Trains on the Moretonhampstead Branch >>
>> Dartmoor Society Public Debate, 2014 >>
>> The Buzz Tour >>
>> Caption Competition >>
>> The Dawlish Débâcle >>
>> Crediton Community Bookshop >>
>> Heathfield - Newton Abbot Community Rail Project >>
>> Visit by the Branch Line Society >>
>> The Temporary Booking Office >>
>> Class 142 Farewell >>
>> Teignbridge Sidings Reopened—in a way >>
>> The International Mining Games, 2012 >>
>> Cranks’ Excursion >>
>> “This Accommodation will Never Appear in a Colour Supplement” >>
>> Study into reopening of valley line >>
>> Kingskerswell Bypass >>
>> “Transition Tourism” >>
>> One of the last pictures of the Teign Valley Branch in operation >>
>> Signs Come Home >>
>> Cowley Bridge Junction >>

David Shepherd, C.B.E., F.R.S.A., 1931 - 2017

David Shepherd was best known as a wildlife artist and conservationist but he was also a railway enthusiast who, in the dying days of steam traction, captured perfectly, as only a painter could, the atmosphere of dilapidation and despair around the sheds and their locomotives, soon to be condemned.

A B.B.C. documentary, "The Last Days of Steam," has David Shepherd describing those end times when B.R. was turning out engines for their final turns. "Oh! Happy days, wonderful days. The sheer hell of doing it … a painting I did at Willesden Shed, the snow was coming through the roof and it was black by the time it hit the ground."

David Shepherd is introduced at 44m. 35s.:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWn4qkfPbd0&t=2797s

Incidentally, the narrator talks of B.R. continuing to build steam engines at 11m. 35s. while the overhead crane moves an 0-6-0 diesel shunter's locomotive portion.

In the years when the railway's camping van was busy, a couple came to stay for three nights. I remember Gordon and his wife Cathie because he had been a B.R. manager and he told me how much responsibility was once given to quite low grades. One example of the work he undertook was commissioning a ship for the Channel Islands' tomato crop, which used to be landed in great quantities at Weymouth. Imagine detailing a bit of managerial fluff from First to such a task today.

Anyway, they may have said that they knew David Shepherd and that he would be keen to hear about my project. It was nevertheless still a surprise when a letter came from the great man a few weeks later.

Naturally, I had to thank him at length and this short exchange is my personal memory of the late artist. If only more men with his accomplishment and in his position could be as approachable and encouraging to the little fellow, instead of thinking themselves too high and mighty to be bothered.

Appendix: File of correspondence with David Shepherd



The Genus Grockle Automobilus

The Plymouth Herald published an article in August, 2017, remembering B.B.C. reporter Keith Blackler's light-hearted glance at the Bank Holiday traffic chaos over Easter, 1973, in which he described "the migration of the grockles."

There is now two and a half times the number of vehicles on the roads of Britain and they are driven further and more often, negating by a long way any improvement in efficiency.

Among the rust-prone death-traps seen trundling past in the news report, there is no equivalent to the modern wankmobile.

In the midst of his well-crafted commentary, Keith Blackler says:-

"But observers have also noted over the years that one small sub-species which effected their migration by train is very much on the decline, driven out by the sheer persistence of the motorized variety, rather as grey squirrels drove out the red. This variety, once numbered in millions, is now thought to be an endangered species likely to become extinct. It's all a question of changing environment: there aren't so many railways as there used to be, of course, and the roads are over-crowded. This suits the motorized grockle admirably. A well-known characteristic of their gregarious nature is a strange compulsion to go where all their mates are going and so the mysterious and little understood instinct which tells them that the roads of the South West will be choked with traffic serves only as an added attraction."

www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/local-news/amusing-bbc-news-report-shows-335161



 

RAMBLES AROUND EXETER

Discovered by a good neighbour amongst the possessions of a departed soul was a small canvas covered book that could very easily have been discarded without a second glance. But a moment's curiosity revealed some walks from and to stations on the Teign Valley line and so the book was kindly loaned to the railway.

From the author's words, "as Exeter is re-built," and references to the railway companies' stations, the book must have been written in the late 'forties. It would certainly have conformed with the "economy standard" under paper rationing so it could have been published in the latter years of the war. One gazetteer puts it at 1949.

Published by A. Wheaton & Co. Ltd., the Paternoster Press, Exeter, the book's 88 pages contain a mere eight illustrations and one sketch map. The author, G. Frankis, began his Preface: "Around Exeter is a countryside of great variety, but always of surpassing richness and colour." He went on to say that he hoped to entice the walker beyond the main routes and encourage a better appreciation of "The Calm of the Countryside."

In contrast to almost every book of rambles on sale today, Frankis makes no mention of driving to the start of his walks; very few of his readers would have owned cars in the immediate post-war years and in any case only a few of his walks were circular.

Instead, he suggests modes of public transport: the train and bus. For some walks he suggests the bus when catching the train would be possible and vice versa. Anyone anywhere writing a walks' book twenty years later would not have been able to suggest the train as much, and this is true of walks within 15 miles of Exeter.

To summarize, Frankis suggests the train at one or both ends of 17 walks and in only three would that be possible today. In fact, train travel could have been used for the start of 29 walks and at the finish of 31; 22 walks could have involved the train at both ends. In only 14 of the walks would rail be of any use today.

There are six walks between Teign Valley Branch stations or halts and another using a single station. Eleven of the 45 walks could have started and, or, finished at Teign Valley stopping places.

Appendix: Summary List shewing Public Transport Options "Then" and "Now"

Some extracts which bring the Teign Valley line to life and touch on some minor historical details



DEVON GENERAL

OMNIBUS AND TOURING CO. LTD.

(in association with British Railways)

Once Busy Bus Stops

Leigh Cross and Teign House

Kept amongst the train timetables in the office at Christow is a supplement to the May, 1964, bus timetable, issued consequent upon services being transferred from Paul Street Bus Station to the new Paris Street in July of that year.

Mention of the Chagford service working via Leigh Cross in the Rambles item above, led to the scribe fetching out this supplement and thinking that some of its tables would be worthy of reproduction.

It can be seen that it was possible to travel from Christow to Chagford or Exeter and back on a Sunday afternoon. The outward journey to Exeter, the 1251 from Christow, involved changing at Leigh Cross into the 1220 Chagford, which departed at 1 5.

Service No. 20 was the Rail Replacement required as a condition of the line's closure and paid for by British Railways, hence its calling points were the former stations; Ashton and Trusham are not shown as stations but the timings seem too tight to allow the villages to be served.

"Down" departures from Christow at 8 7, 9 57, 2 7, 5 2 and 7 2 roughly correspond with those of the last train timetable of 1957, viz. 8 3, 9 58, 1 27, 5 7 and 6 38.

O.M.B. stood for "one-man operated bus." The end note read: "Services operated with "Pay as you enter" Vehicles and the co-operation of passengers is requested in having the fare ready on entering the Vehicle."

Note that Service No. 20 is not shown as O.M.B., so maybe a conductor was provided in place of the guard to help the old folk with their bags and the mothers with prams.

 

The service to Christow village was sparse at this time and its level was not much different from today's, which has suffered heavily as a result of government spending cuts. The overall service then and now was and is very much worse than it was at the peak at the turn of the century, when for three years, funded by a grant for rural services, today's 360 service was extended to Newton Abbot Station and there were five through workings in each direction. This, together with services 878 and 887, made the Teign House crossroads a busy bus stop; so much so that the railway prepared a simplifier for its campers wishing to get to the neighbouring villages.

The 5 55 Exeter still runs over 50 years later, only now working via Dunchideock instead of the main road, but still getting in at about the same time. Doddiscombsleigh now sees nine buses a day, whereas in 1964 there were only two.

In its day, Leigh Cross was a busy junction, too, and Mrs. Worth in the cottage there acted as Devon General Parcels Agent.



Searching for Albion

Island Story by J.D. Taylor

To stay on the night of 15th September, 2014, came Dan, at the end of his 111th day of a four-month cycling odyssey across the British Isles.

Unlike the chance meeting with Eve on her Buzz Tour, Dan had booked his night in TOAD from Manchester on the 79th day of his journey, having had the accommodation recommended by regular guest, Kirsty Garside. It was quite something that he still had to ride the Welsh coast and all the way from Bristol to Scilly before turning east, yet he rolled in at Christow on schedule.

Dan is the sort of intelligent company that is craved at Christow, to counter the crushing apathy of the "Lost Valley." He must have read some of these pages for he had a good grasp of the thinking behind the project and was curious to know more of the detail. The conversation continued the following morning and delayed his departure for Lyme Regis until midday.

Before he left, the fitter checked Dan's old Raleigh. Remarking on its weight, he put the rear wheel on the scales and they gave five stone (32 kg.). The E. & T.V.R. scout had ridden many of the same roads around the peninsular; when Dan spoke of his weariness at the sight of another hill, the scout could only think of that load.

What does a PhD scholar do before going to bed? He writes 5,000 words on his blog, otherwise he can't sleep.

It was not until later that his writing was found on the library computers and it was revealed that in the short time he was here he had got the story down in his cyberlog, which he had kept up all along the route every day. He must have been mentally and physically sapped when he finally made it back to his home in London.

The complete log, found at searchingforalbion.com, has now been distilled into a book, Island Story, published by Repeater Books, a copy of which has been ordered from Hive and waits to be collected from Crediton Community Bookshop.

http://repeaterbooks.com/politics/another-island/

http://www.hive.co.uk/Product/J-D-Taylor/Island-Story/19090744

http://www.creditoncommunitybookshop.co.uk/



Railway Nomenclature

In Great Britain, trains do not call at "train stations."

Rather browned off at hearing locomotives referred to as trains, the railway's scribe
attached a side label to the diesel shunter in an attempt to maintain usage of
established language.

Later, this was supplemented by a ruling on stations, as another alien term
became insinuated.

A photograph of the label now heads a campaign page on the worldwide
web and the scribe has added his own comments.

If these former hubs on an extensive and all-encompassing transport
system are to remain as little more than bus stops, as even the larger ones would be today if stripped of their coffee shops and shopping malls, then there is no harm done in letting "train station" and its like take hold.

For more than just tradition, though, should not railway station be maintained to remind everyone of what was once offered; to keep alive the image so as to inspire the young generation to agitate for a real railway to regain its position at the centre of all transport?

More terminology ...

Trains negotiate curves. There is no "S" bend on a railway; there is a reverse curve.

Trains ascend or descend gradients or inclines, which are rising or falling.

A locomotive is "in steam" if it is working (it is not so inaccurate to refer thus to an electric locomotive whose prime mover may be a steam turbine).

Trains have a head and a tail and can be hauled or propelled.

When is a car a railway carriage?

Another Americanism was long ago adopted with the arrival of the self-propelled carriage and is now used in relation to multiple unit trains. Dining, restaurant, buffet and sleeping cars were once common, too.

And when is a road a railway?

Although the Americans kept the original "rail-road," it became more of a slang term in Great Britain, the shortened "road" being more often used than "line."

As in a variation of the American SNAFU, with an Exeter Controller handing over at two o'clock on a summer Saturday: "All to hell on the down road, as usual." Or in P-Way men being paid double time on a Sunday, only if they "broke the road." Or in Terence Cuneo's classic painting, "Clear Road Ahead."

www.facebook.com/ItsNotTheTrainStationItsTheRailwayStation/?fref=nf



Visit by the Dartmoor Railway Supporters' Association

11th May, 2015

What was at first suspected as being a thinly disguised excuse to reconnoitre by agents from the Okehampton area turned out to be a friendly visit by eight enthusiastic railway promoters, again kindly arranged by Tony Hill.

Had D.R.S.A. members come to see what progress had been made on what they would call the "other" inland diversionary route, the word taken back to camp would have quelled any unease that the Teign Valley may have been further forward.

In the course of his preamble, the E. & T.V.R. guide pointed to a short length of the Up Main he had laid and remarked: "I'm only asking the state to do a thousand times more than I've done."

The proportionate figure for the Southern route would be far higher, no matter how much had been done by way of tokenism between Meldon and Bere Alston. But even the modest initial demand by the Okehampton interests for a reinstated weekday service on the existing line where there is proven need, almost entirely a paper exercise to bring about, languishes with all the other stalled schemes.

Not one chain of closed line has yet been reopened in the West Country.

The nearest to reconstruction is the Portishead Branch, only three miles of which needs relaying. The demand is pent up, the case cast iron and the formation almost complete, yet the exhaustive process drags on and prospective passengers must now wait until 2020 at the earliest to catch a train. What chance is there for lines further west without the sort of step change which brought the Borders to fruition?

It is a shame that more Dartmoor members could not have come but the conversations were lengthy with those that did, and the interest was deep, so the number was not at all disappointing. Anyway, a reciprocal visit by the Friends of the Teign Valley would muster even fewer.

The E. & T.V.R. wishes the Dartmoor stalwarts every success in their campaigning and will continue to support their most ambitious aims.

www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/miscellany



The Railway—British Track Since 1804

Written by Andrew Dow and published by Pen and Sword Books, 2015.

In the concluding pages of his last book, a scholarly work celebrating the normally unsung engineer and permanent way man, the late Andrew Dow, always a staunch champion of the railway at large, wrote:-s

In 1920, 2,202,224,000 passengers travelled on the railways of the United Kingdom, this including the whole of Ireland. The figure includes 635,390,000 season ticket journeys. In the same year 4,802,000,000 passenger journeys were made on the tramways of the country. In other words, just over seven billion journeys were made on railed transport of various kinds, by a population of about 42.5 million, about two-thirds of today's figure. In addition, although it was not a peak year for freight, in 1920 Britain's railways carried 317,877,500 tons of freight, not far short of four times today's figure.

Robert Stephenson's London & Birmingham Railway was built in five years from 1833 to 1838 at a cost of £5.5 million. In today's terms, that equates to five years and £386 million. An early estimate for the HS2 line, in the first stage as far as Birmingham, was for it to take 14 years and to cost £32.5 billion. This enormous increase in time and money well illustrates the truth behind the words of Kevin Schieffer, writing inTrains magazine in January 2007: "A hundred years ago the challenge to build a railroad was a construction and engineering challenge. Today the challenge is just getting permission to do it."

Reproduced by kind permission of Pen and Sword Books Limited.

www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Railway-Hardback/p/7846



September, 2017: In fact, the diminutive railway was spared for nearly two more seasons: the district council finally took possession of the land at the end of August, 2017.

There still being no development plans finalized, a motion was tabled at the town council to allow the funpark to continue for another year, as had already been granted for the Harbour View Café opposite, but this was not carried.

All of the equipment was then put up for sale by remote auction and the E. & T.V.R. scout went to view the loco and carriages, with the thought that possibly they may be useful as a sideshow at Ashburton. It was a chance to speak to Mr. Wright, whose family had run the funpark for donkeys' years, about the need to modernize a traditional seafront and the usual unsavouriness of local politicians.

The virtual hammer fell the following day and the railway's bid was very far short of the £6,000 paid for the train.



From The Railway Magazine, February, 2016

It was good of Dave Rogers, 1st Take, to give the railway's spokesman a generous hearing. He had no idea beforehand what he was going to be asked or what exactly was required of him.



A Very British Map:

The Ordnance Survey Story

This excellent television documentary, part of the Timeshift series,
was first broadcast on BBC Four on 9th September, 2015.

Narrator (Lesley Manville): "Martin's* artistic rebranding cleverly coincided with the zeitgeist of the '20s and '30s. This was an era which saw increased leisure time for the lower middle classes and turned the stylish O.S. map into a must-have travel accessory."

"The relationship between the accuracy of the Ordnance Map and the possibilities it allowed you of exploring the landscape, plus the heightened nationalism in the interwar period, has really cemented that idea of the Ordnance Survey map as an icon of patriotic Englishness."

Rachel Hewitt
Author, Map of a Nation

Narrator: "Many people's favourite series of O.S. maps, known as the Popular Edition, is from this era, published between 1919 and 1926.

"That era spans a part of history in Britain when the number of motor cars on the road went up from 77,000 to around a million. And so that map is the last picture we have of Britain before it was overrun by motor transport. I'm looking at a Britain that no longer exists. It's a Britain before motorways, before airports, or at least before many of them. But it's a Britain before traffic jams. It's a quiet, a very peaceful, Britain."

Nicholas Crane
President, National Geographic Society

And, it could have been added, the time when the railway system was
at its greatest extent and Britain was the "Workshop of the World."

* Ellis Martin, the artist hired after the First World War by the Ordnance Survey to produce attractive covers for its maps to compete with the many pirated versions being sold.

The reader might have expected that the author of these pages would be an Ordnance Survey enthusiast.



Charity HST Special, 10th October

Rebekah Hartley vowed that she would recreate the trip she enjoyed with her late father in 1997, and here it is ...

The First Devon and Exeter Explorer

Paddington - Buckfastleigh - Heathfield - Buckfastleigh - Heathfield - Paddington

Buckfastleigh to Heathfield and back will run as a separate excursion for local passengers.

All bookings and enquires to the Branch Line Society.

www.branchline.org.uk

It's a pity there couldn't be an "Ashburton Enquiry Special," with a nod to Mallingford in the classic Ealing comedy. The Dartmoor lot would of course hire Pearce & Crump.

On the intermediate working from Buckfastleigh, the HST special creeps along the one third that remains of the Moretonhampstead Branch. The train is one of the first to appear in the green livery chosen by a schizoid management company that has convinced itself it is the Great Western Railway reincarnated.

The 16.42 Heathfield to Paddington return charitex is seen at Moretonhampstead Junction awaiting the signal to proceed onto the Up Main. Most of the train is on the curve, the most severe on the whole line.

From where the train is standing, in 1957 it was possible to move directly to all the Newton Abbot station running lines as well as the branch bay: the Up Through, Up Main, Up Relief, Down Main, Down Relief and Down Through, serving eight platform faces. Those underlined remain and can be seen above.



David St. John Thomas, 1929-2014

In the year before he died, the well known author and publisher, David St. John Thomas, wrote to thank the railway for sending him a copy of A Journey in Time. Actually, the book must have been sent by someone else but anyway there was further contact and this letter was received, accompanied by a photograph taken on the last day of the passenger service, 7th June, 1958.



Roadpeace?

Can there ever be an end to belligerent behaviour on the roads while irresponsible manufacturers pander to the imbecile desires of impressionable men?

>> Transport for the High Achiever >>

Selling Tonka Toys to Toddlers at Christmas and the "Gallery of Stupid."

www.roadpeace.org
barbarian, n. Rude, wild or uncultured person; an extremely aggressive or violent person.

Visit by the Dartmoor Society

13th May, 2015

The sun shone and it was the spring day—surely the very day—when the wild flower display was at its finest, bursting with colour and freshness.

Dr. Tom Greeves, rebel, folk leader, the founder and chairman of the Dartmoor Society brought 36 members to Christow for an afternoon visit, following the "railway debate" at Meldon Village Hall in October.

Most of the guests had a ride in Jenny Wren, the manumotive narrow gauge observation saloon, and all roamed the site, discovering its quirks and points of interest. Unfortunately, the diesel shunter was under heavy repair and GANGCAR was misbehaving, so there was not much movement on the standard gauge lines. A demonstration was given of "running-off" the motor trolley and some connections were made between Wickham, the maker, and Dartmoor.

Seemingly the most popular place as the afternoon went on was TOAD, the station buffet for the occasion, made possible by the kindness of two local ladies. Fiona brewed the Co-op's Fairtrade Indian Prince tea and served Rosalind's homemade cakes.

Closing his introductory remarks, in which he claimed that the "curvaceousness" of the Teign Valley line did not render it useless, Colin Burges, the owner, although not much one for anniversaries, pointed out that he began work on the project at Longdown Station on 13th May, 1975. He therefore thanked the society for giving him the excuse to get out the dressing-up box to mark the day.

Dr. Tom promptly sent a letter of thanks, saying (in part):-

On behalf of everyone, thank you so much for such a splendid afternoon on Wednesday.

I think all of us were astonished and delighted at what you showed us and what we saw. And it was serendipitously so special that we were there on your 40th anniversary!

You provided so much excellent information and demonstrated such fascinating engineering marvels that we're all dreaming trains!

Congratulations on what you have achieved—it's very special.

While the attitude towards the railway of the vast majority within the lost valley is, at best, steadfast indifference, it was again gratifying to find that interest and understanding comes from outside.

There is no Dartmoor society here but thankfully there is one beyond.


www.dartmoorsociety.com



A Strange Place to Find a Shipwreck

The changed fortunes of the Western Morning News

After over 40 years almost unbroken subscription to the Western Morning News, Colin Burges gave up the paper in February.

Having been increasingly dissatisfied with the editorial style and standard of reporting, particularly during and after the Dawlish débâcle of 2014, the final straw was the refusal to publish the railway's letter of 4th February, countering yet more tosh on the subject of railway development.*

It has to be admitted that another major influence was cost. Without much by way of explanation, the price had gone up and up while the paper seemed to get smaller. Added to this was the delivery charge in the country, bringing the total to nearly £1 on weekdays. The days when advertisers as good as paid for most newspapers are gone, readers are told, although the publishers of Metro manage to give it away.

Funnily enough, one of the deciders was the introduction of a Sunday edition of the Western Morning News last year, which has never been seen here. Breaking the continuity by going without one edition led to questioning the value of the rest.

The paper claims that it has no allegiance to a political party or interest group, and this may be technically true. But it has become sickeningly such a mouthpiece for big business, clamouring for new roads, airports, science parks, housing estates and the rest, that far from protecting the uniqueness of the West Country, it would happily see it turn into an extension of the South-East, where everyone is so much more content. And there comes a point when a fellow can read not one more word about the wonders of rising house prices or any more self-congratulatory claptrap.

Since starting in business at Christow in 1995, never once has the paper picked up any stories supplied by the railway, which may have helped its position in some small way. Giles and Samantha who opened a bijou retro shop in St. Columb Major got a report. There was a half-page spread on some oddball who collected gnomes. On a slack day the editor did a piece on his vinyl record collection and feature writers, when short of copy, go on about their mid-life ailments or just "Google" a subject. But never was a column inch given to this railway and its letters were routinely mutilated to make them nonsensical.

The reader misses the feel of a newspaper in his hands, the randomness of the subjects, the differing opinions. He will miss clipping articles, trying to identify the place in the picture without reading the caption. He will miss the regular contributors, particularly Bendell, Coaker and Hesp, and the letter writers like good old Tony from Noss Mayo.

But, in the end, he says bollocks to the paper in its dingy squat in Millbay.

* There is ample criticism of the paper under Dawlish Débâcle.

Leicester Harmsworth House, the former headquarters and printworks of the Western Morning News and Herald, opened in 1938 on Frankfort Street, Plymouth, remained standing through the blitz of 1941, when most of its surroundings was flattened; so much so that after the war the building found itself on a new street.

It was said to be wholly inadequate to the needs of modern newspaper production and so a new, flamboyant headquarters was erected on a hillside at Derriford, north of the city. Nicholas Grimshaw (later Sir Nicholas), the architect responsible for the Eden biomes, chose a ship-like outline, with an engine room at one end housing the new colour presses, "decks" of open-plan offices and a boardroom "bridge" peering over The Sound and up to the moor. "The Ship" cost £33.5-million and was opened in 1993.

To begin with, an edition of the Daily Mail was printed here each evening, followed by the Western Morning News and other local titles. Then news publishing underwent another huge change, with plummeting circulations and advertising revenue forcing staff and production economies.

When the E. & T.V.R. scout cycled past in 2014, the presses had long before been taken away and a fellow clearing up the site said that latterly the staff had been rattling around in a half-empty building.

In 2013, after Daily Mail Group sold the Western Morning News, the new owner, Local World, rented a suite of offices in Millbay, opposite the site of the former S.D.R. terminus.

When the scout returned to Derriford in April, 2015, the place was deserted and the owner had by then applied to demolish it; the building was deteriorating, had a poor energy performance rating and was not readily divisible, so it was unsurprising that no buyer had been found.

At last, in May, Burrington Estates, a specialist at conversions, salvaged the wreck for £5-million.

Whether or not "The Ship" satisfies individual tastes, such buildings should be celebrated for their technical achievement, for the sheer brilliance of their construction. This is an outstanding creation which deserves a longer life.

The criticism here is that the outfit which twenty-odd years ago could not see where print journalism was going, now in a smaller space than Leicester Harmsworth House continues to spout endlessly about serious issues affecting the West Country, including what railways will be needed in a changing world.



Bovey Lane Crossing Saved

All that's left of the original Teign Valley Branch track between Marsh Barton and Heathfield

As part of the improvements to Bovey Lane and Accommodation Lane, a bridleway leading on towards Bovey and the Wray Valley, to make the route safer for pedestrians, riders and cyclists, Devon County Council planned to reduce the hump created by the railway embankment by about two feet, removing the embedded track in the process.

Residents of Haytor View, Heathfield, the terrace of houses built by Candy & Co. for its workers, were notified that work was to commence on 16th February.

Formidable spokeswoman for the little community and battle-hardened campaigner, Chris Mitchell immediately protested that the hump was not to be touched, for it deterred drivers from speeding and had historical value. She drew attention to the problem of increased traffic from Heathfield taking a short cut to the A38 since its junction with Old Newton Road had been closed.1

Her summary of the problems affecting Bovey Lane finished by pointing out that "the rails on the hump are the only rails of the Teign Valley line remaining" and quoting Devon County's own strategy for the Teign Valley which aims to "Protect the route of the disused Teign Valley Railway for potential reopening or recreational use."2

A site meeting was arranged for the morning of 10th February. Along came Chris with some Haytor View residents to meet County, District and Town Councillor, George Gribble, and Peter Burge and Ian James, project engineers responsible for delivering the cycle route as part of the "Granite and Gears" initiative.

The E. & T.V.R. scout, whom Chris had invited, fully expected that after a bit of an argument the work would go ahead regardless, but was pleasantly surprised when the very amenable council officers put the matter to Coucillor Gribble to decide, who said that he would bow to the local community's wishes.

And so the old level crossing will stay, subject to a safety review in a year's time.

1 Had the A38 been a railway, it would not have been able to sever Old Newton Road: a bridge or crossing would have had to have been provided when the line was constructed.

2 see www.devon.org

See also >> One of the last pictures of the Teign Valley Branch in operation >>

The situation at Bovey Lane is complicated now that there is an entrance and a road following the alignment of the branch to the scruffy "Station Park" trading estate. This has spoilt Bovey Lane, both by its presence and by the volume and type of traffic it has generated.

See >> Heathfield Station >>

This type of development so often springs up around stations and lines, but is seldom anymore connected with rail transport.

Here is another example that the E. & T.V.R. scout came upon this year while on a rural ride following part of the route of the Somerset & Dorset's main line from Bath to Bournemouth.

Where once the place resounded with railway activity, this being the junction of the Somerset Central's original line to Burnham-on-Sea, via Glastonbury*, with a branch to Bridgwater, now all that is left is a name and a railway curve fossilized in the walls and fences of an untidy access road.



Special Trains on the Moretonhampstead Branch

On Sunday, 21st. December, Rebekah Hartley* of First Great Western organized a special service of seven trains from Newton Abbot to Heathfield and back to raise money for Hannah's at Seale-Hayne, the pioneering charity that has worked with and championed disadvantaged and vulnerable children, young people and adults with a range of disabilities for more than 230 years.

The remnant of the Moretonhampstead Branch was billed as the "Teign Valley" for the occasion.

Members of the Branch Line Society and other enthusiasts were allowed to step off the last train of the day at Heathfield, which, upon its return to Newton, drew up at No. 9 Platform, the "Moreton Bay," before re-joining the main line.

The railway was kindly given a pitch in the booking hall at Newton.

Rebekah and her team of volunteers worked tirelessly all day and brought delight to lots of children of all ages.

On 25th March, a giant cheque for the sum of £4,864.94 was handed over at Seale-Hayne. A promise of £500 from Sibelco will bring the total raised to £5,364.94. Staff at Hannah's, receiving the donation with much gratitude, said that it was a quite remarkable achievement for one day's activity.

Rebekah is now planning this year's trains so her employers had better look sharp.

* Daughter of the late John Hartley (see "Kingskerswell Bypass")



 

 

 



Dartmoor Society Public Debate, 2014

What future for railways and their heritage on Dartmoor?

This informal debate took place at Meldon Village Hall, not far from Meldon Junction and the viaduct, on Saturday, 11th October.

Dr. Tom Greeves, the charismatic Chairman of the Dartmoor Society, gave a very interesting talk about railway archaeology on the moor; Bernard Mills presented a wonderful slide show; Richard Searight of the Peninsula Rail Group argued the case for reopening the Southern main line to Plymouth; and Colin Burges rambled about the Teign Valley and railways in general.

Copies of this railway's report to Government and the stock leaflet, There were once 31 stations on and around Dartmoor, were handed out and many acquaintances were made.

The Dartmoor Society is planning a group visit to Christow in May.

After scoffing the leftover grub, in the remaining light of the day the E. & T.V.R. scout rode up the lane to the old main line and along to the viaduct, where he was once again awed by its height and slender construction.

Members of the Dartmoor Society visited Christow on 13th May, 2015.



The Buzz Tour

One of those happy coincidences that Lady Luck arranges occurred on Easter Monday, when the delightful Eve, walking the length of England "to pollinate change for a healthy environment," stopped off at Christow.

Having started at Totnes on the 11th April, she came across the station after calling at nearby Embercombe. She was surprised by what she found.

"I wasn‘t sure at first," she said. "But then I saw the crushed car."

A bringer of tidings from the land beyond the lost valley, she talked about the danger looming large for mankind and the much that is being done to counter it.

Though she had intended to continue further north that day, she was enticed by the railway‘s unique accommodation. TOAD being occupied, she was put up in TADPOLE, which was berthed by the river. The other, regular campers invited her to join their table for dinner.

This is the kind of hospitality she is hoping will be offered all along the way.

She is uplifting. Read about her purpose and follow her progress on www.buzztour.org

11th July, 2015

This time on a bicycle, and having ridden non-stop from Totnes, Eve came to stay again for the first night of her new expedition.

Now fast becoming a celebrity, she is still humble enough to mingle with unexceptional people.

She was given chips and Tramp Juice and then she bedded down in TOAD. Her bike was checked before she set off the next day heading for Wells and encounters new.

A book, Pollinating Change, and documentary DVD record last year's adventure.


www.buzztour.org/documentary/



Caption Competition



Crediton Community Bookshop

The only independent bookseller serving Mid-Devon, Crediton Bookshop was taken over in September, 2013, and is now being run as a not-for-profit Industrial & Provident Society for the Benefit of the Community.

By combining up-to-date technology with the passion and knowledge of real book lovers, local bookshops provide a unique bookselling service. Even with the domination of Amazon and the development of e-books, local bookshops and particularly children‘s bookshops, continue to survive, even flourish. Unlike online selling of books, they provide high street havens of book culture, venues for literary events and where readers meet authors, and opportunities for face-to-face discussions with knowledgeable staff and other book lovers.

Crediton is fortunate in having a vibrant High Street with a significant number of independent retailers. In addition, the town boasts a very active Arts Centre, a bi-monthly farmers‘ market and, through Sustainable Crediton (www.sustainablecrediton.org.uk) is part of the Transition Towns movement. There is a good train service from Exeter and a pleasant café at the station.


Objectives of the Bookshop
To serve the community in Crediton and Mid-Devon with a self-sustaining, independent, local bookshop where excellent customer service takes priority
To provide an outstanding selection of children‘s books
To be the best resource for Devon writing including local authors, literature, history, geography, travel guides, maps etc.
To promote reading and literacy in all age groups and provide a meeting place and focus for book lovers and local reading and writing groups
To provide access to literary resources and specialist sales on the internet and through social media
To promote the works of local authors, including self-published and specialist local books
To develop the shop as a Tourist Information Point which draws visitors

www.creditoncommunitybookshop.co.uk

The only connection here is that at least one Teign Valley resident has become a shareholder. And, as far as he is concerned, it is great that, unlike other investments that have been lost, this one promised no monetary return.



Heathfield - Newton Abbot Community Rail Project

A campaign has begun to reinstate the passenger train service on the remaining four miles of the Moretonhampstead Branch.

Nothing more than is stated on the project‘s web pages is known.

The E. & T.V.R. sent a message of support in November and is prepared to join forces with any organization working towards a railway revival.

heathfieldcommunityrailproject.weebly.com/

As a matter of interest, word reached the railway that a Teignbridge Council officer* had telephoned a business on the Heathfield Trading Estate asking if any employees would benefit from improved cycle routes, in particular along the "old railway."

It has long been suspected that the railway‘s passage beneath the A38 dual-carriageway was identified as the preferred alternative to the dangerous pedestrian level crossing at the severed Old Newton Road.

This threat has more or less been lifted now that it has been announced that a new bridge is to be built as part of further road expansion at Drum Bridges.

Or so it was thought. See:-

>> Council leader wants remainder of Moretonhampstead Branch closed >>

* An enquiry at Forde House elicited that this was probably Chrissie Rowe, responsible for Green Spaces & Active Leisure. This has not been confirmed.

 

June, 2014: Before taking down the web posting, the organizer announced that owing to his work he had no more time to give to this campaign.

The organizer was Paul Beard, who is involved with a commendable campaign to reopen part of the Somerset & Dorset Railway‘s extensive network, the closure of which left great voids in the two counties not served by rail.

somersetanddorsetrailway.co.uk



Visit by the Branch Line Society

Sunday, 23rd June, 2013


"What we lack in length, we make up for with variety," was part of the brief opening announcement. For where else would anyone enjoy five short but different rides — and on the Teign Valley Branch?

It has been some years since the Branch Line Society visited and again it was as much our pleasure entertaining 29 members, this time under the very capable leadership of Kev Adlam, who was working a tight diagram of fixtures over the weekend.


For a project that is shunned by the vast majority of those in the locality, it is always good when people from outside show such enthusiam and interest.


Kev was kind enough to follow up the visit with a very warm letter, thanking the railway for its effort.



The Temporary Booking Office

As the Teign Valley Branch train service obviously is not yet running, the waiting area of the newly-opened Temporary Booking Office has for now given place to part of a small exhibition of bits and pieces from days gone by.

The exhibition is intended to be of interest to the seeker of general and local knowledge, as well as to those particularly concerned with railways.

What anywhere else might be termed a “visitor centre” will also hold the railway’s educational and propaganda bumph and Gift Shop.

The portable cabin which houses the Temporary Booking Office is positioned at the Sheldon Lane entrance, where it is meant to be inviting and accessible to visitors and passers-by.

Unfortunately, the only ticket the booking office will be able to issue at this stage is its souvenir Christow platform for admission. This costs £2 for adults and 50p for supervised children.

The exhibition should keep an intelligent person absorbed for at least half an hour and freedom to wander around the railway is included.

There will not be fixed opening times. Anyone planning a visit may telephone beforehand to check.



Class 142 Farewell

Sunday, 27th November, 2011

The Class 142 Diesel Multiple Units help to explain why the Germans like to come to England: because to them it‘s the nearest third-world country. Oh! The units are so unutterably bad that they have become likeable; Col. Stephens would have loved them. For an old-school railwayman, they are a throwback: easy access for cycles and strollers, good visibility and, on track with dipped joints, tremendous fun; the nearest it‘s possible to get to riding a freight car.

So why bother to take part in the farewell? Simply because of the rare opportunity to gain some publicity and photos from a local excursion heading to some obscure places.

A phone call to First‘s H.Q. in Swindon fortunately found an enthusiast in Jon Godden, Train Planning Systems Manager, who took up the idea of destination boards and rang back, as promised, the next morning to give the OK. Geoff Fiddler, a supervisor at St. David‘s and appropriately, originally from Moretonhampstead, allowed a Class 142‘s lamp bracket to be measured. Brian Payne, Chris McNaughton and others were friendly and helpful.

Destination boards using "Rail Alphabet" were made up, the size being dictated by "Moretonhampstead," claimed to be the longest single station name in England (Is this true?). "Christow" was thought to be more appropriate than "Heathfield;" some trains did only go half way.

It was tempting to do more: the excursion was going on to Barnstaple Junction and Meldon Quarry, so boards could have been made for Ilfracombe or Torrington and Plymouth or Padstow.

On the day, a "Teign Valley" train at St. David‘s No. 6 platform was photographed by many, as intended. Thanks to Network Rail, Stephen Angeloni, the celebrity photographer, was the only one able to capture the train at City Basin (Exeter Railway Junction). He took the best shot of the day: the train leaving the main line for the branch. A passenger train—any old wreck would have done—passing over those points, getting nowhere, but reminding as many as possible that the line did once go on for another 16 miles.

Souvenir E. & T.V.R. platform tickets were sold on the train and copies of a 1930 diversionary notice, with some explanation, were handed out.

Apart from not being able to reach all the former destinations, the greatest disappointment was seeing the track of the Moreton Branch lifted beyond Heathfield. All the recovered material was stacked at the station. The line had only recently pointed tantalisingly towards Bovey, going within one and a half miles of the town, yet now there was just ballast and weeds. Senseless destruction and another example of how the industry still manages to pull the rug from beneath rail transport campaigners.

This sad sight was countered to some extent by the ground being prepared at the former Teignbridge Sidings for the start of timber traffic, which would safeguard the branch for a few more years.

Part of the press release was taken up by the Mid Devon Advertiser, which reported the above story, but was typically ignored by the Express & Echo and Western Morning News.

The destination boards were meant only to be carried over the branches, but "Christow" went to Newton Abbot and "Moretonhampstead" went back to St. David's — without a risk assessment and method of work statement. Boards joined free tickets, a session on the driving simulator and a model train as prizes in the raffle for the Railway Children, the charity which helps "street kids" worldwide.



Teignbridge Sidings Reopened—in a way.

Shortly after the Class 142 Farewell tour in November, 2011, timber traffic commenced at the place where ball clay was loaded from high platforms into 12-ton wagons for the potteries. This traffic ceased in the early 1980s and the loop sidings were lifted.

The branch still carried away clay from two places where government grants had helped build elaborate loading facilities for the new 60-ton air-braked hoppers, and brought in oil and other traffics to the Heltor depot at Heathfield.

Nearly all traffic had ceased by the turn of the century and in 2010 the line was "mothballed," with crossed sleepers at the commencement of the single line beneath Kingsteignton Bridge; although, refreshingly, the Track Section Manager at Newton Abbot advised that the line had to be kept in a state that would have it back in use in 6-8 weeks.

And this is what happened. In 2011, a gang brushcut the entire line and began fettling it up for traffic. The area once occupied by the clay platform and siding was made ready to receive lorry loads of larch from forests in the West Country where emergency felling was being done.

Although the traffic was only originating from Teignbridge, most of the line would come back into use as trains would work to Heathfield for the loco to run round. Unfortunately, this did not stop the remaining half mile being ripped up, leaving only an engine length beyond the station loop.

The economics of the operation confound every observer—freight margins are extremely poor and the traffic is a low value commodity—but all have agreed that it does not matter; it has justified the line‘s existence; Sustrans can take its black, beady eye of this one for the time being. So hats off to Colas Rail, one of the new crop of operators spawned by denationalization.

Something of the decline which this railway insists is still the case, despite rocketing passenger numbers, is evident in the statement by Andy Saunders, Business Development Manager for Colas Rail: "We searched long and hard for a freight siding in the West Country but there are very few left that were suitable and not in a town."

Well, there were once at least 150 stations in Devon alone where this traffic could have been loaded. Not many would have been able to accommodate a log pile like the one at Teignbridge, but then the traffic would have been dispersed. Loads would have been brought from the forests to the nearest yard and loaded by the lorry or trailer‘s own grab, with wagons making their way through the system along with lots of other freight traffic, handled by versatile railwaymen and universal traction.

Actually, this sort of traffic was still being forwarded in the 1990s and was one that Ed Burkhardt (bless him) saw could be handled, Wisconsin-style, at any siding still accessible.

November, 2013: Timber traffic has ceased, it is hoped temporarily.

March, 2015: On his ride out to Seale-Hayne to see Rebekah Hartley present a cheque to staff at Hannah's, the E. & T.V.R. scout passed Teignbridge and saw wagons being loaded. Later, at Newton Abbot, he watched the departure of possibly the last train. In April, loading was transferred to Riverside Yard, Exeter, leaving the Moreton Branch again disused and with an uncertain future.



The International Mining Games, 2012

"What's the connection with Christow Station?" a reader may ask.

Well, Le Marchant Mining & Construction has narrow gauge rolling stock stabled here and two "U" tippers were requested by the organizers to be used in the tramming section of the games.

The budget ran to a grit blast and spray for the Hudson trucks, last used in the ball clay mines of Watts, Blake, Bearne & Co. in the Bovey Basin. None of the railway‘s own identical wagons was considered.

A white line was painted on the inside to denote "full" for the female miners. But the impression was given that some of the participants needed to be given no advantage.

At left is an extract from the Western Morning News piece of Monday, 2nd April.



Cranks’ Excursion

Very seldom does the E. & T.V.R. photographer turn out to observe a CRANKEX—as they used to be termed in the special notices—but one occasion which could not be missed was the excursion organized by U.K. Rail Tours on 17th April, 2010, taking in a traverse of what little remains of the Teign Valley Branch.

There was no need to mention that the E. & T.V.R. was a customer of South West Crane Hire, the firm which occupies the triangle of land bounded by the Great Western main line, the branch and Low Level Loop, because the boss is one of those amenable types who was quite happy to let the few spotters into his yard to clamber over his equipment in search of the best vantage point.

The General Motors Class 66 hauling the train came abruptly to a halt—freight drivers do not worry about spilling the soup in the diner—on the Down Main, near to where the 1962, cedar-clad Exeter City Basin Junction signal box once stood. After setting back over the crossover onto the Up Main, the driver powered the special over the junction and onto the branch, the first loco-hauled passenger train since closure to passengers in 1958 (A D.M.U. had worked over the branch in 1972).

Until 1990, the train could have gone almost as far as Alphington Halt, to the buffer stop above Church Road, but the blind adherence of authorities to 1970s‘ road policies, the power of a big property developer and the treachery of Railtrack caused the truncation of the line to a point short of Marsh Barton Estate Junction (Refer to Exeter’s Industrial Railway and the report under Political Campaigning for the full history of this case).

What remained of the Marsh Barton Trunk and the siding of E. Pearse & Co. was closed and the end of the Teign Valley Branch was given to the scrap yard so that wagons could be loaded on the embankment. Thus, the excursion could only proceed as far as the gates blocking the line, leaving the rear locomotive standing by what was Basin Loop Junction, where it was photographed.

Departure was supposed to be immediate but in fact there was sufficient time, even after dallying, for the E. & T.V.R. photographer to fold up his tripod and cycle around to Marsh Barton Road Bridge, where a larger group of spotters was gathered.

The last train to Newton Abbot, via Christow, on 7th June, 1958, passed over what was then Marsh Barton Lane at about 10 p.m. In 1960, the short steel span was taken down and the side arches demolished to allow the road to be widened and troughed to increase the clearance to 16 feet. A new long girder span was installed which for much of its life was restricted to shunting engines, even though latterly the wagons being despatched by the scrap yard had a 25½-tonne axleload. The restriction was lifted to allow Class 37 locos to pass, and now Class 66, weighing 125 tonnes.

This unusual event in 2010 followed a year in which, thanks to the Perridge Tunnel case and John Hartley of Devon C.P.R.E., the Teign Valley Branch was talked about more than at any time since closure.

The E. & T.V.R. wrote to thank U.K. Rail Tours for arranging the spectacle.

The writer has walked or cycled or driven the E. & T.V.R. utilicon beneath this bridge most weeks since 1975, Exeter‘s Marsh Barton Trading Estate having been one of the main sources of tools, materials and services for the projects at Longdown and Christow. Seeing a dining car standing on it for the first time quite made his day; to think that this would have been a regular sight during diversionary working. This train, instead of hurrying down the main line to the sea, could have turned and be about to weave its way through the hills to Christow and the Teign Valley.



"This Accommodation will Never Appear in a Colour Supplement"
Wasn’t this the promise?

The railway does not mind being a member of a club as small as this one.

The first the railway knew of this was when the picture editor telephoned from Wapping to ask for something to accompany the article.

"Eh? What article?"

It was later learned that it was Sam, bless her, at the Independent Hostel Guide, who had suggested the railway to Vinnie Crump. He never came to stay or even called, and his piece was somewhat inaccurate: while the staff at Christow may be shitbound most of the time, it is unlikely to be soot grime. And mod cons and convivial conversation? He obviously never encountered the khazi and Bodkin.

Nevertheless, there is still snob value attached to The Sunday Times, despite it being a Murdoch title. And although the feature brought only a little extra holiday custom, it had a worthwhile outcome unconnected with camping, which is covered by another article.

This exposure brought home again the difficulty of explaining non-standard in a world in which almost everything has a bar code. Some of those who came as if to prove how adventurous they were, must have thought that non-standard meant something like only having terrestrial TV, not satellite; the idea that there was no telly at all being unthinkable.

www.independenthostelguide.co.uk

>> Signs Come Home >>
>> Transition Tourism >>



 

Having had what he thought were constructive talks with Ian Harrison, Deputy Executive Director of Environment, Economy and Culture (sounds like a government position in a banana republic) at County Hall, John Hartley submitted an introductory letter in August. This was met with the standard, "thank you for calling, now piss off," reply from Dave Black, Head of Planning and Transportation, in October.

John Hartley, 1951-2011

Few people have been as supportive of this railway as John Hartley was in the short time that I knew him. I first wrote to him in 2008 as secretary of the Torbay Line Rail Users‘ Group, because it had in its purview the branch line remnants. When he discovered what I was doing, he took up the cause with all the vigour he had; which, in his last years, was greatly reduced. I only learnt something of the depth of the man and his contributions after his death. I‘ve heard said by those who pride themselves on staying out of politics that he rubbed people up the wrong way. None who didn‘t ask for it, I would say in his defence; there are, after all, some grubby herberts that drift into public life, and many officials should not be credited with having human feelings. I believe that John was a good man. I wish I had known him for longer. I wish there were younger, fitter men of his calibre joining the fray.

C.B.

Had he lived, John would have pressed the matter further and in doing so would have pointed out that the amount of money he was asking for was paltry compared with what has been squandered on the South Devon Link Road project. The county‘s response to a Freedom of Information request revealed that £896,204.74 was spent on this long running pet project between August, 2009, and September, 2010, alone.

>> Appendix >>

 



Kingskerswell Bypass

John Hartley would say: "Kingskerswell was bypassed long ago. What they intend building is a link road."

The Teign Valley, shamefully, did not take part in the opposition, so this cannot be filed under "Campaigning."

Was it any surprise, late in 2012, to hear the announcement of government funding to make possible the construction of the South Devon Link Road? An ambition held for over fifty years, promoted at fever pitch in the last ten years by all the great, the good and the stupid, reached its inevitable climax—the go-ahead. Could it, within the present structure and with orthodox thinking, in the end have been any different?

These schemes, once born, develop a life force, fostered by men almost unwittingly down through the years. At some point, most lose sight of the original purpose and close their minds to any review in the light of changed conditions. In this case, such a crescendo of clamour was reached that the road became the singular means of breaking Torbay‘s shackles. The same doggedness usually defines the path to war.

It has been hard to pull off, though. Promoters have had to nibble away at the costs to make them acceptable. The project underway is billed at £110-million, but nobody will check what the damage is at the finish, or whether Torbay remains a shithole.

Insights


The futility of continuing to build more road space

Brian Greenslade, leader of North Devon Council, on the subject of traffic congestion in Barnstaple (December, 2012):

"We are still benefiting from the Western Bypass but this has a shelf life. Anyone who lives on the south side of Barnstaple knows that Roundswell gets completely jammed up every morning and night."

How “aspirational” roads begin life

Simon Thornley, Spatial Development Manager, Teignbridge District Council, on the subject of the Newton Abbot Northern Bypass (September, 2012):

"It was originally put in the plan on the basis that at some point in the future it could be a useful link. Having it in the plan will make it possible to apply for funding."

A rare snippet of sense from the Mid Devon Advertiser (August, 2011):

"We believe the case for an improved transport network is clearly proven but ask if a £130 million bypass ... is really the best way to deliver it."

What about this for a By-Pass?

Before throwing £138-million* at a new road, why do they not examine the guided system already in place that is only functioning at a small fraction of its capacity?

Kingskerswell Station (closed 5.10.64), with the edgings of its long platforms thrown back, was one of a number once listed for reopening. Since Ivybridge (a sort of "parkway" stop) was opened in 1994, the subject of further openings has been practically—and some may say, conveniently—dropped.

At the last public enquiry in connection with the South Devon Link Road, held in July, 2009, the railway was mentioned as if it were merely a geographical feature and might have been an irrelevance in transport terms.

* The figure before trimming took place.



“Transition Tourism”

Travel slowly, live gently, buy locally and see your own country.

The railway has always tried to encourage this form of tourism when promoting its humble accommodation, but without much success. As from October, 2010, the encouragement has become more overt.

The new differential charging is designed to give those who would normally plump for the car an incentive to choose a benign means of transport, at least for the duration of a holiday or break. The charging is also meant to confer privilege for once on the pedestrian, the cyclist and the public transport user.

The railway owner lacks the moral fibre needed to impose the new charges on those who have been coming by car, in some cases for the last eleven years.



One of the last pictures of the Teign Valley Branch in operation.

With thanks to Peter of Teignmouth.

A B.R.-blue liveried North British ―63‖ diesel-hydraulic waits at Knighton Crossing in April, 1968, a few months before the line was closed between Bovey Lane Crossing and Crockham sidings (Trusham).

Curvature of the line obscures what is behind the locomotive, but it may be a ducket of the brake van that can be discerned. If it is just the engine and van, then a train must earlier have been propelled as far as Chudleigh, traffic having ceased altogether from Crockham at the end of March.

Strange as it may seem, trains and bits of trains still regularly pass this very spot, but the wheels which carry them are no longer steel.

Ignoring the museum pieces that pass on their way to the historical re-enactment railways in the South West, there are the transfers of the functional railways which are much more easily effected by road than rail, partly because of physical constraints and partly because of the modern cellular organization.

Locomotives, carriages and wagons and H.S.T. power cars all pass here on what is now the westbound carriageway of the A38. All the stuff that used to go back and forth between main works and depots, on its own wheels or in circuit ENPARTs vans on parcels trains, now goes past here, as well as most of the goods and consumables needed to run a railway. Even the gas oil fuel came this way for a while after denationalization.

And nobody in the present-day industry sees this as a lamentable failure.

The photographer is standing on the disused platform of Chudleigh Knighton Halt, opened in 1924. At left is the former crossing keeper‘s cottage. Only introduced in 1959, the "63" — later Class 22 — was one of the shortest-lived designs, all being scrapped by the early '70s as a result of B.R. standardizing diesel-electric traction.

The level crossings at Bovey Lane and Knighton were originally unauthorized. The Board of Trade only allowed the line to open on the understanding that the crossings were a temporary measure.

After closure, the railway formation suffered a heavy incursion by the construction of the dual-carriageway Chudleigh Bypass, completed in 1973 at a cost of £3.9 million. The cottage was demolished and Pipehouse Lane taken in cutting beneath the new road. Crossing Cottages, just off picture at right, are still there and provide a bearing.

Not many years later, there was talk of widening the A38 to make it into a motorway and this probably remains the dream of some half-baked traffic engineers at County Hall, schooled in 1960s transport ideology. What was once a tranquil and idyllic spot is now pervaded by the unending din of a busy trunk road, carrying traffic which should be on rail or which only exists by reason of cheap oil.

While all trace of Knighton Crossing was obliterated, Bovey Lane remained unmolested for many years, with the rails still in the road. A little remains even today, enough to measure four inches of cant on the curve, but not enough to obtain a versine from which to calculate the radius.

In 1986, it was still possible to put the remaining gate across the road for a ghost train. The reaction of the first motorist to stop on this occasion? Curt, would be the best description.



Signs Come Home

A worthwhile and quite unexpected result of the Sunday Times camping exposure was that it led to the return home of two "running in*" station name boards to the Teign Valley.

Even if there had once been many of them, they would probably still be rare today. But there were only ever four made for the Exeter Railway: two for Christow and one each for Longdown and Ide; Dunsford and Alphington halts opened after the small company had been absorbed. Supplied by Patent Enamel Co. Ltd. of Birmingham, they had green lettering on a white ground. The shade, teal, may also have been used in station paintwork.

The original sign at Ide was taken away in 1923 when the station was relegated to a halt and given a standard Great Western board.

It appears that the remaining signs were untouched after amalgamation in 1923, but after nationalization in 1948 they were painted over with new cream letters on Western Region brown. Had the stations been more prosperous, British Railways would have run to new standard enamel signage, including small, supplementary "double-bubble" "totems" fixed to lamp posts and suchlike.

When the boards were taken away in 1958, there was little collectible value attached to them.

Along with "Ashburton," they somehow came to be in a garden near Exmouth Junction shed in Exeter, where they were spotted in 1960 by a 16-year old enthusiast who gave 1/6 (7½p) each for them out of his pocket money. He was a lad with a particular penchant for the Teign Valley, which he had seen operating at the end of its time.

Years later, Diana Shepherd, reading the Sunday Times travel supplement, noticed a piece about camping on rail in the Teign Valley and, knowing her husband‘s boyhood interest, passed it to him. And so it was that, fifty years on, Philip Shepherd got in touch with the railway.

The same Philip Shepherd who, in the late 1970s, was Area Maintenance Engineer at Exeter (St. David‘s) and who was contacted because he was rumoured to have the Longdown station sign; Longdown was then the project base.

Nothing came of that encounter, except that he lent a copy of a report he had written about Deutsche Bundesbahn during one of B.R‘s exchange jollies.

Now a jet-setting international railway consultant, he came to inspect the work at Christow and was convinced over lunch at the Nobody Inn that his signs should come home and be exhibited. He kindly agreed to their continual loan.

They are not yet on display but it is planned to use the old water tower pumphouse as an annex of the exhibition for large items.

When new wooden frames have been made, it would be nice to photograph the signs on the station platforms where they lived. Even nicer would be to have them on show for the first train.

A Tale of Two Signs
by Philip Shepherd

It was 1959, or maybe early 1960 that I first saw the Teign Valley station nameboards – Christow and Longdown. I had cycled to Exmouth Junction "shed" to see what was about and on the way home passed a house with the signs clearly visible in the front garden. As well as the Christow and Longdown signs, there was an enormous Ashburton sign complete with heavy timber frame still in situ. The Teign Valley signs had I think already lost their frames.

I‘m not sure if I immediately knocked on the door to enquire what was going to happen to the signs but eventually I did. I had no idea what reception a schoolboy was going to get. The householder turned out to be a librarian. He said he was interested in making sure that the signs didn‘t get scrapped because they were of historic importance. I explained that I was a railway enthusiast and would be interested in preserving them. There was negotiation on price, something like 1 shilling and sixpence each (7½p) – not much in today‘s money but a large proportion of a week‘s pocket money for me. It may have been as much as half a crown each (12½p) – it was a massive challenge to raise that amount for each sign!

Anyway, I did because not long after this I transported all three signs home, one at-a-time balanced on the handle bars and seat of my bike, over a distance of about a mile. Well, actually the Ashburton sign was too big and heavy for that transport solution and so a fellow railway enthusiast helped and that one was transported on two bikes, one in front of the other!

We lived in Whipton (the eastern end of Exeter) at the time, in a road that had the main Waterloo-Exeter line at the bottom of the garden where Bulleid Pacifics would clank and whizz by. It was at the end of the garden next to the main line that the three signs were positioned ready for "restoration". Restoration involved carefully scraping off all the chocolate-and-cream paint that hid the original green-on-white enamel underneath, some of which was already visible (and white-on-blue enamel of the Ashburton sign). I worked at this, carefully using timber scrapers so as not to scratch the enamel. I completed two of the three signs – Longdown and Ashburton. The Christow sign was partially completed by 1961 when my parents moved to Plymouth and I started as a student at Swindon works. The signs remained in their garden position in Plymouth for the next 32 years while I moved from house to house, as one did when working for British Railways. University, family life and railway appointments prevented any further work on the signs. In 1993 I moved jobs back to Swindon and then had space to store the two Teign Valley signs in the garage. In the intervening period I had let the Dart Valley Railway have the Ashburton sign (at a time when trains could still reach Ashburton before the A38 dual carriageway cut the line off).

This was the first time that the Christow and Longdown signs had been under cover since they were made and they remained in the garage for a further 17 years. Finally in 2010 – nearly 50 years since I rescued them – they were returned to their rightful home on the Exeter and Teign Valley Railway at Christow.

The story of how I got to know about the E&TVR is worth telling. My wife Diana was reading the holiday section of the Sunday Times and spotted a piece about Christow station. She had a vague recollection that one of the signs stored in our garage was "Christow". "You might be interested in this", she said. I certainly was, and made contact with Colin Burges of the E&TVR. Amazingly he turned out to be a former colleague of mine at Exeter St. David‘s from the 1970‘s.

So the return of the signs to their home is down to my wife diligently reading a section of the Sunday Times that I never look at. What a chance – what a coincidence!

So that‘s a Tale of Two Signs.

Philip Shepherd
Wiltshire

January 2013

Postscript

These days I work on major railway projects world-wide, advising railway administrations, banks and governments. But a big soft spot remains in my mind for the little Teign Valley branch. Even as a schoolboy I recognised the charm of the line with its small stations and that impressively-large track layout at Christow; its perfectly-proportioned 1400 class tank engines and auto-coaches. In those days the area surrounding Christow station was very industrialised with quarrying. Major structural remains of heavy industry survive to this day.

It‘s amazing to think the railway survived 55 years from 1903 to 1958 when passenger services ended. It has now been closed for the same length of time – 55 years! I wish the E&TVR success for the 21st century and its next 55 years. It is an excellent local endeavour that deserves full support from all of us who are interested in preserving our heritage, and particularly railway heritage.

Philip has also been kind enough to share these delightful snaps ...

The only known photograph of the Christow motor trolley
outside its shed at the top end of the Up platform.
And this leads to another story ... GANGCAR 194 >>



Flooding at Cowley Bridge Junction

Can the M5 be blamed?

Before anyone remarks that trains would have continued to run in the old days, it must be said that these conditions would have beaten any railway at any time. There are some adversities which would once have been overcome but it would have been madness to send trains, whether drawn by steam or diesel, through raging currents such as these.

The water courses here are complicated and greatly altered; none are visible. Broadly, the River Exe, joined a few miles upstream by the Culm, comes from the right between the pylon and the railway and passes beneath the left hand line off picture. A flood channel links the Exe to the River Creedy, which makes a natural confluence further downstream. The Exe passes beside the junction and beneath the road immediately to the left.

What use would the Teign Valley diversionary route have been? In this case, none at all. However, when slips blocked the line between Dawlish and Teignmouth, the Teign Valley would have been a saviour. If it had not itself been flooded at Chudleigh.

Two valleys converge, both with flood plains narrowed, and in the midst of this are three man-made embankments: the main road to North Devon and two lines of railway.

This is not the first time that floods have disrupted the railways here and it will not be the last. In 1960, a railway bridge collapsed and three were subsequently rebuilt, with the line to the left being singled.

There is usually always an engineering solution; any application here would surely be extremely expensive and disruptive. Despite government noises, customary after any crisis, nothing much is likely to happen.

Cowley Bridge was originally the junction of the Exeter & Crediton Railway (1851) with the Bristol & Exeter (1844). When the network reached its greatest extent, the Southern line going left (then double) served Okehampton, Plymouth, North Devon and North Cornwall. It now goes only to Meldon and Barnstaple. As at St. David‘s, the diverging lines go in opposite directions. Here it is Down Southern and Up Great Western. Cowley Bridge Junction Signal Box once stood below the camera to the left.

Above here lie enormous catchments, stretching high up onto Exmoor. At one point, according to an Environment Agency contact, the River Culm was the chief troublemaker. There will be run off from saturated ground but the built environment must shed water more quickly. From the train can be seen the great expanse of the M5 motorway and many of the new roads, buildings and hard standings that have sprung up since 1975 in the Culm catchment.