Okehampton

NORTH DEVON RAILWAY

LONDON & SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY

SOUTHERN REGION

.

OKEHAMPTON STATION

 

 

 

The station was opened in 1871 when the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) extended its line from Sampford Courtenay. Services were extended further west to Lydford railway station with the inauguration of Meldon Viaduct in 1874. Constructed to rival the South Devon Railway route to Plymouth, the completion of the LSWR's own route to Plymouth saw Okehampton become an important junction with lines to Padstow and Bude as well as Plymouth. Boat trains carrying passengers from ocean liners calling at Stonehouse Pool, Plymouth and prestige services such as the Atlantic Coast Express and Devon Belle all used the route.

 

With the publication of the Beeching Report in 1963, the line to Bude was put forward for closure as was part of the Exeter to Plymouth Line which was to be cut back to Okehampton. This was regarded as somewhat of a miraculous survival for Okehampton by the local press; as The Western Times & Gazette of April 11, 1963 put it: "[n]ot many small Devon towns can congratulate themselves on the way they have fared in the Beeching Plan, but Okehampton, with a falling population well under 4,000, is one of them." Its survival prompted questions as to why the line should remain open when others, such as the Avocet Line which saw far more traffic, were proposed for closure. It was said that at the time Okehampton had about 50 regular users per day and a handful of season ticket holders.

 

The Avocet Line was, in the event, saved from closure, but Okehampton lost its passenger services from 1972. The line survived, however, for the purposes of freight thanks to the activities of the British Rail ballast quarry at Meldon, three miles from Okehampton, which had an output of 300,000 tons per year. The quarry survives to this day, although it is now operated by Aggregate

 

FUTURE