John Speller's Web Pages Okehampton Railway

John Speller's Web Pages - L&SWR
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The Okehampton Railway was incorporated by 25 and 26 Vic, cap. 165 (17 July 1862), to construct a 13-mile line from the North Devon, at Coleford, near Crediton, to Okehampton. There was an authorized capital of 130,060, in 20 shares, with powers to borrow and additional 43,000. The line was to be worked by the London & South Western Railway. The Engineer was William Robert Galbraith (1829-1914), Consulting Engineer of the L&SWR. By 26 and 27 Vic, cap. 129 (13 July 1863), the company was authorized to extend the line from Okehampton to Lidford, on the Launceston and South Devon, a distance of 10 miles. New capital, 160,000 with powers to borrow an additional 53,333. The line opened to Okehampton on 12 October 1874, and to Lidford on 12 October 1874. A link was opened enabling the L&SWR to run over the GWR line from Lidford to Plymouth on 17 May 1876. On 2 June 1890 the Plymouth, Devonport & South Western Junction Railway opened, giving the L&SWR an independent line from Lidford to Plymouth. Lidford was renamed Lydford on 3 June 1897.

On 6 May 1968, British Rail closed the line from Meldon to Bere Regis as part of the Beeching Axe. The Exeter to Okehampton passenger service was withdrawn by British Rail on 5 June 1972. Between 1972 and 1997 the line was used for railway ballast traffic from Meldon Quarry and occasional freight traffic to the remaining goods yard at Okehampton before its closure. Occasional charter and special trains were operated to Okehampton and Meldon Quarry. The route is owned from Coleford to Meldon by Aggregate Industries whilst the Coleford to Exeter section is owned by Network Rail. In the past freight trains served the ballast quarry at Meldon. The railway reopened to regular passenger services in 1997 with the formation of the Dartmoor Railway. The line is leased to and maintained by the Dartmoor Railway, which since 2008 has been a subsidiary of British American Railway Services Ltd., a new company created by Iowa Pacific Holdings, Inc., of Chicago. The Dartmoor Railway operates services and facilitates access to the line by other operators. A public service between Exeter and Okehampton is operated on summer Sundays by First Great Western. In 2014 Network Rail is proposing to reopen the whole of the line from Coleford Junction to Bere Regis to provide a diversionary route for Exeter to Plymouth trains on occasions when the West of England main line is blocked at Dawlish.

Map of the Okehampton Railway
Loading horses to be transported to the front in World War I, Okehampton station, 1915
Okehampton station in a postcard view of around 1905
North Tawton station in 1970. Image from Wikipedia Commons courtesy of Roger Griffith, released to the Public Domain
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