John Speller's Web Pages Bude Branch

John Speller's Web Pages - L&SWR
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I remember the Bude Branch well, since my grandparents lived in Holsworthy, Devon in the mid-1950s and I used as a child to travel from Taunton to Exeter St. Davids and then take the "Atlantic Coast Express" via Okehampton and Halwill Junction to Holsworthy. There were also many day trips to the seaside from Holsworthy to Bude. Although I was very small at the time, I can remember a few things about Holsworthy, including the curious fact that there was an upper quadrant semaphore starting signal at the east end of the station and a lower quadrant one at the west end. I also remember standing on the crossing and admiring with awestruck wonder a brand new British Railways Standard Class 3MT 2-6-2 tank, just built a few weeks earlier at Swindon Works.

In 1873 the the Devon and Cornwall Railway (Western Extensions) Act authorised a line from Meldon Junction to Holsworthy The London & South Western Railway took over the Devon and Cornwall Railway in 1874, and construction commenced in 1875. The line opened to its original terminus at Holsworthy on 20 January 1879. An interesting engineering work on the line was the 450-foot Holsworthy Viaduct, just east of Holsworthy station. The remaining section of the branch to Bude was opened on 11 August 1898, and necessitated building another viaduct, the Derriton Viaduct, just to the west of Holsworthy, which was rebuilt as a through station. Derriton Viaduct was constructed of concrete blocks, and was the first such structure in the world built entirely out of concrete. The line closed under the Beeching Axe in 1966, but the substantial station house at Holsworthy and the viaducts are still standing.

"The North Cornwall & Bude Express" first ran in 1907 and soon became the London & South Western Railway's principal express. The Southern Railway renamed it "The Atlantic Coast Express" in July 1926. The train was split at various points into five separate sections. At Exeter St. Davids the sections for Plymouth, Padstow and Bude were separated from those for Torrington and Ilfracombe. At Barnstaple Junction the Torrington and Ilfracombe sections were separated, while the Plymouth section was separated from the Padstow and Bude sections at Okehampton and the Padstow and Bude sections finally got split at Halwill Junction. It took considerable care on the part of passengers to make sure they were in the right section of the train for their intended destination.
Derriton Viaduct between Holsworthy and Bude on the L&SWR's Bude Branch. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
The Atlantic Coast Express behind Southern Railway No. 850 "Lord Nelson." The train was renamed "The Alantic Coast Express" in July 1926, the same month "Lord Nelson" entered service.
Holsworthy station in 1905. The fine station house dates from 1898. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Bude station in a postcard view of 1907. The station consisted of a long platform for express trains from Waterloo and a shorter bay platform for branch trains
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