Lost Railways of Devon
Devon's railway history began when the main line from London reached Exeter in 1844. Links were soon built with Plymouth in 1848 and Bamstaple in 1854. On top of this, in the heyday of the railway age, Devon boasted over 400 miles of branch lines and sidings - nearly all of them to disappear by the end of the 20th century. At a time when horse-drawn coaches and farm carts were the only alternatives, the railways transported people and goods to their destinations much more quickly. Carcasses and hides from slaughterhouses at Hatwill and Holsworthy could be loaded onto a train by 5 pm and, before dawn the next morning, they would have reached their markets in the Midlands and London. Tourists were also a valuable source of income, with the Atlantic Coast Express, which began work in 1926, leaving London with anything up to 14 coaches. Once they reached Devon, sets of coaches would be 'slipped' and sent on their way down branch lines to seaside towns such as Exmouth, Sidmouth, Ilfracombe, Bideford, Torrington, Bude and Padstow. Sadly, the good times were not to last and by the 1930s competition from road transport led to closures which continued into the 1960s when the Beeching report finished off all but the main lines. Today, preservation societies, including the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway and the Dart Valley Railway, are keeping the county's railway history alive. In this excellently written and well researched book, author Stan Yorke tells the story of the lost lines - the reason for their construction and for their closure. Modem photographs accompany those taken when Devon's lines were open and bustling.
Softback, 160 pages, black & white photographs, maps
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Updated: 1 June 2020