Branch Lines of Devon: Plymouth, West and North Devon
The branch lines of Devon were particularly numerous, and this second volume on the county covers Plymouth, west and north Devon. They vary from the Turnchapel and Yealmpton commuter lines to the Exeter and Barnstaple branch, which for many years of its life was a main line, becoming a branch line within the last thirty years. Another downgraded line is that from Crediton to Meldon Quarry. One branch still open is the Plymouth to Gunnislake line, which remains because it offers the most direct route — the road alternative being steep, narrow and twisting. It uses the erstwhile LSWR's main line from St Budeaux to Bere Alston, where the DMU reverses to reach Calstock and Gunnislake, these last two stations being in Cornwall. Many of the branches have interesting histories. The Princetown branch was famous for being the highest station in England. Constructed on, or near, a horse tramway opened in 1823, the line was sinuous and on a severe gradient. The prison provided quite a proportion of the branch's traffic; indeed, it was the conversion of the old war prison from a naphtha factory to a convict prison that necessitated something more up-to-date than a horse-worked tramway. The Torrington—Halwill Junction line started life as a 3-ft gauge Marland Light Railway whose main purpose was to carry clay, but which also transported workmen in ex-London horse trams. In 1925 it was rebuilt as a standard gauge line and extended to become the North Devon & Cornwall Light Railway — the last major railway construction in the west of England. Of the main railways, the GWR and LSWR both had short branches at Plymouth serving jetties where tenders landed passengers and mail from Atlantic liners, enabling them to arrive in London earlier than if they had had to wait for the ship to dock at Southampton. In this well-researched book, Colin G. Maggs offers a lively and entertaining history of each of the area's main lines and the branch lines which served them, and provides a marvellously wide-ranging view of over 160 years of rail travel. Highly illustrated with contemporary photographs and ephemera, this book will appeal not only to railway enthusiasts but also to local historians.
Hardback with dust jacket, 146 pages, black & white photographs
Condition: Good/Very Good
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Updated: 29 December 2022