John Speller's Web Pages Exe Valley Branch

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The Tiverton & North Devon Railway was incorporated by an Act of Parliament of 19 June 1865 to build an 8-mile railway, to be worked by the Bristol & Exeter Railway, from Tiverton to a junction with the proposed Devon & Somerset Railway near the village of Morebath. There was an authorized capital of 90,000 with powers to borrow an additional 30,000, with an agreement by the B&ER to subscribe 30,000 of the cost. Charles Richardson, later famous as the Engineer of the Severn Tunnel, was appointed Engineer. A separate company, the Exe Valley Railway was authorized by an Act of 30 June 1874, to build a 13-mile line from Stoke Canon near Exeter to Tiverton, linking up with both the B&ER's Tiverton branch and the Tiverton & North Devon Railway at Tiverton. By a further Act of 19 July 1875 the powers of both these railways were transferred to the Bristol & Exeter Railway, which itself amalgamated with the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1876. Progress was slow and it was not until 1 August 1884 that the Tiverton & North Devon Railway opened, followed by the Exe Valley Railway on 1 May 1885. The Devon & Somerset Railway had in the meanwhile been converted to 4 ft. 8 in. gauge, so that trains ran through from Exeter St Davids to Dulverton. This was in my opinion a strategic mistake if there had been a curve between Bampton and Morebath (which, as it would have run along the river, would have been easier to construct anyway), trains could have run through from Exeter to Taunton via Wiveliscombe and Milverton which would have proved a much more remunerative route rather than terminating at Dulverton station. This was in the middle of nowhere and quite a long way even from the town of Dulverton, Somerset, which it was supposed to serve. It is interesting that the engineering and station design on the Stoke Canon to Morebath Junction route, including the new Tiverton station of 1885, was done by the former B&ER Engineer Francis Fox, who did an excellent job. The line closed to passenger traffic on 5 October 1963 and to goods on 29 April 1964.
Map of the Exe Valley Railway
Tiverton station, as rebuilt in 1885 at the time of the opening of the Exe Valley Branch
Cadeleigh station in about 1905. Note the gasholders at the back of the branch train to service the gas lighting in the old six-wheeled carriages
Bampton (Devon) station on the Exe Valley Railway was one of the most idyllic on the Great Western Railway. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
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