THE SIDMOUTH & BUDLEIGH SALTERTON RAILWAYS
A POTTED HISTORY OF THE SIDMOUTH RAILWAY
Although originally conceived in 1861, just a year after the LSWR opened a main line from Yeovil to Exeter in 1860 the promoting company foundered before any building took place. The original 'Light Railway' finally opened in 1874, despite being completed in 1871. The delay was due to arguments about pricing between the LWSR who had agreed operate the railway, passing 50% of receipts if over £4,000 to the Sidmouth Railway Company, with an option for the LSWR to purchase the railway. In 1894 the L&SWR tried to take up this option offering £70,050 but this was refused by the Company. However in 1922, just before the Grouping of the railways in Great Britain, a share swap was arranged, effectively ending the independent existence of the Sidmouth Railway company.
The branch was always single track with passing loop in every station and was initially worked by staff and ticket. In 1904 the Tyers electric train tablet system was introduced. The junction station on the main line at Feniton which had originally been called Ottery Road, but the name was changed to Sidmouth Junction on the day of the opening of the branch line.
Goods services mainly brought inward agricultural supplies, building materials and coal for domestic purposes and for the gasworks at Sidmouth. Special operating conditions had to be imposed for the operation of goods trains over the line due to the very steep gradients on the line.
Locomotive power initially was restricted to those suitable for use on light railways, Although when the West Country light pacific 21C110 was to receive its name special permission was granted for it to visit Sidmouth for the naming ceremony on 27 June 1946, but normal LSWR traffic was normally banned until after 1951.