A POTTED HISTORY
Subsequent to completion of the Dartmouth & Torbay Railway it became clear that the railway’s opinion of Brixham Road, was sufficient coverage at 2 miles distant. Therefore the Torbay & Brixham Railway company was formed, Once completed it ran Broad Gauge from Churston to Brixham opening on 27th or 28th February, 1868 (Different sources quote alternative dates), the official ceremony not being until June. Brixham Road was renamed Churston after the new line was built.
Although it was independent, financed entirely by Brixham Solicitor Richard Wolston, from the outset it was run by South Devon Railway staff. Unfortunately the cost financially ruined him, but other members of his family managed to run the railway, always a financial struggle until it was eventually sold to the GWR for half of the £24000 cost of building it in 1883.
Astonishingly just one driver and one fireman worked 15 hour days, six days a week, there being no Sunday service, to man the only engine until after the line was converted to standard gauge in 1896. Signalling improvements done at this time meant more than one train could run, but in reality that only allowed for freight as Brixham was always a single platform station situated above South Furzham Road.
Water for the engines came from a leat, which in summer was often in short supply until mains water was installed in 1910. Until then water was often brought by rail from Newton Abbot, where the trains themselves were based from 1929 once the engine shed was closed, although a driver and fireman were always based at Brixham until the end of steam.
Passenger numbers stayed buoyant until WWII despite keen competition from buses. The final nail was a halving of services due to the coal shortages of 1951. Passengers never returned to the rails after this in any numbers.
In 1961 single car DMU's replaced steam but it was decided to close the line in 1962, yet British Rail waited until the release of the Beeching report before implementing.
Much more information on the Brixham Branch can be found in a book, ‘The Brixham Branch' published by The Oakwood Press. It is available from good bookshops, the Brixham Museum or direct from the publisher. The museum also has a nice DVD made from stills for sale.
TORBAY & BRIXHAM RAILWAY
GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY
BRIXHAM ROAD/CHERSTON STATION
Opened 14 March 1861 and originally known as Brixham Road, changing to the current name when the Brixham Branch was opened 28th February 1968. The Torbay and Brixham Railway was taken over by the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1883.
As with other lines in the south west it was built to Brunel's 'Broad Gauge', but was converted on the weekend of 21 May 1892 it was closed and converted to standard gauge. The following year saw the platforms lengthened and a new signal box constructed. lengthened further and a new signal box constructed, opened on 9 February 1913.
The Brixham branch was a mere 2 miles and six chains long, 3.3 km. It left a bay platform constructed at the South Devon's station of Briham Road, the name being changed for the opening of the new line. It left the station under a second single track arch under the Brixham Road and after the junction points, turned right entering a short cutting after going under Bridge Road. The topography of the area is such that to keep the railway more or less level this cutting quickly became an embankment which ran alongside Bascombe Road, crossing Ebury Lane on a bridge and its junction with Churston Road, crossed the latter. The track soon returned to the same level as the ground for a short section entering another cutting as it passed under Copythorne Road coming back to ground level at approximately the point the footprint is now lost under a new housing estate at North Boundary Road. Eventually coming into Brixham above the town across a bridge over South Furzham Road and the station then nestling between that road and Station Hill.
The line closed on 13 May 1963, but the Kingswear service continued but Sunday trains no longer called at Churston after the 1967 summer season. General freight traffic was withdrawn on 14 June 1965 although coal was still handled until 4 December 1967. The crossing loop was taken out of use on 20 October 1968 and the signal box closed.
ELBERRY LANE BRIDGE
CHURSTON FERRERS BRIDGE/POSSIBLE FUTURE HALT
COPYTHORNE ROAD BRIDGE
NORTH BOUNDARY ROAD
STATION HILL ROAD BRIDGE
constructed on the hill above the town so as to keep gradients to a minimum. The station had a single platform with a goods shed opposite. An engine shed and another small goods yard were situated at the Churston end of the station.
Of note: Brixham was the location of Roxham station in The System, a 1964 film. An early scene sees most of the main characters at the station, either arriving on a train hauled by a British Rail Class 22 locomotive, or waiting there to see who is arriving in the town for a holiday.