It probably didn’t take long to guess that after my previous blog post on the influence that the South Devon Railway had in my journey in becoming a steam enthusiast that the next would be on the Paignton and Dartmouth steam railway. Hopefully the presence of a brunswick green A3 class pacific wasn’t quite as predictable!
Ever since I was given a tender-drive Hornby model of the Flying Scotsman, one of my dreams was to see the locomotive in the flesh. My wish came true in 1993, when the world’s most famous locomotive visited the Paignton and Dartmouth Railway whilst I was on holiday there. Both my father and I were a little disappointed when we found it not painted in LNER apple green, but in its BR uniform.
Nevertheless, seeing the Flying Scotsman was an experience that has stayed with me. Sir Nigel Gresley’s beautiful design is without question, in my mind, one of the most attractive steam locomotives. It just looks right! This is still the only time I can recall seeing the Flying Scotsman and I eagerly await it’s long overdue return to service.
For me, the Paignton and Dartmouth Railway was the line we went to see to see bigger engines (compared to the locomotives that pulled services on the Dart Valley/South Devon Railway.) The line was and still is a very popular route and carries many heavy tourist trains throughout the year. It was a good place to see GWR tanks, such as 45xx prairie (above) and the exceptionally large 5205 2-8-0 monsters (such as the aptly named 5239 Goliath below!)
Other GWR fleet members included pannier tank 64xx class 6435 (below) that is now based on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway.
Another regular performer was 4575 class prairie tank 4588 (below.) This class was almost identical to the 45xx, but had a larger water capacity in it’s sloping water tanks.
The line has a good fleet of locomotives, but it’s real asset is the line itself. In my opinion it is one of the most enjoyable preserved railway routes. Starting in the (admittedly run-down) seaside resort of Paignton, the line runs along the beach for some time, with fantastic views across Torbay. Crossing some small viaducts, the line heads in-land and into Greenway Tunnel and emerges at the estuary of the river Dart, an area that feels like a whole different world compared to the resort of Paignton. The line terminates at Kingswear, a small but wonderfully colourful town that is a short ferry crossing from Dartmouth.
It is not often that preserved railways have a sense of purpose, being as they often are, fragments of closed down lines. This is not the case with the Paignton and Dartmouth Railway, as travelling from Paignton to Kingswear really has the sense that you have arrived at another important but different place. And this is what travelling train is really about, don’t you think?
The previous two pictures show 4920 Dumbleton Hall in service in 1995. This locomotive is now based at the South Devon Railway and is awaiting overhaul.
I hope you are enjoying my excursions into my childhood and beyond! To view all blog posts in this series click here.
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