My Journey in becoming a Steam Enthusiast, Part 4 – When the Dart Valley became the South Devon Railway

In previous posts I have often mentioned that although my model locomotive focus is mainly Southern, I have interests in all regions.  This is particularly true when it comes to the Great Western Railway!

Having family who live in Devon, visits to what was once called the Dart Valley Railway were fairly regular, as were those to the Paignton and Dartmouth Railway.  It is the former of these two lines  that I shall be looking at today – part 4 of my journey in becoming a steam enthusiast, continuing from my last entry, a cab ride aboard an Ivatt 2MT on the Lavender Line.

Just to clear things up, the Dart Valley Railway was what is now called the South Devon Railway.  The Dart Valley Light Railway PLC used to run both this line and the Paignton and Dartmouth Railway.  In 1992, the South Devon Railway Trust took over what was called the Dart Valley Railway and it was renamed as a consequence.  The Dart Valley Railway PLC (as it is now known) still operates the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway.

So this post is about the South Devon Railway, the line formally known as the Dart Valley Railway.  The railway is a typical and (in modelling circles at least) an incredibly popular subject – a Great Western Railway branch line.  The line formally linked Ashburton with Totnes, but now runs from its headquarters in Buckfastleigh to Totnes (although service trains terminate at  Totnes Littlehempston which is within walking distance of the Town.)

Buckfastleigh station is some way from the the village it serves, but is definitely worth a visit.  As I hope these pictures show, the South Devon Railway’s headquarters are home to its fleet of locomotives, plus any others visiting such as the Locomotion Replica in the picture above (taken in 1995.)  The engine sheds have an atmosphere that can put a spell on steam enthusiasts – the smell of coal and oil that make the experience all the more worthwhile!  It also has a small museum, with the only surviving Broad Gauge locomotive, the National Collection’s 151 /2180 Tiny, pictured at the end of this post.

Buckfastleigh station also shares a car park with the wonderful Butterfly Farm and Otter Sanctuary.  It is also close to Buckfast Abbey – a real working Abbey and Monastery, well worth a visit.

The line is delightfully scenic and follows the River Dart through Staverton – a beautiful country station.  Staverton is a great spot for walkers, with some lovely walks to be had along the River Dart.  The railway carries on to Totnes Littlehempston where there is yet another tourist attraction – the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm.  Not to mention Totnes itself, a small market town with so much character, a small castle and a great place to make a journey by boat to Dartmouth.

Visiting the South Devon Railway was always a highlight of holidays in the English Reviera and without doubt left a lasting impression and I highly recommend a visit! Tomorrow I shall be publishing some pictures taken at Buckfastleigh in 2010.

The final picture below was taken during this 2010 visit.   I wanted to include it in this post as it is the National Collection’s number 151 Tiny – the only surviving broad gauge locomotive.  Seeing this locomotive as a child really hamered home the thought that Brunel was indeed a visionary engineer – if only more of his ideas were listened to!  Imagine how much faster and more stable modern fast trains would be if we had standardised broad gauge…  I do not, unfortunately have the time to get any further into what is still a hotly contested issue – whether we should have used broad gauge – but I will leave you with the locomotive!  Enjoy!

One thought on “My Journey in becoming a Steam Enthusiast, Part 4 – When the Dart Valley became the South Devon Railway

  1. Pingback: A day out on the South Devon Railway Part 1 – Buckfastleigh | Loco Yard

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