KINGSBRIDGE & SALCOMBE RAILWAY

LODDISWELL

 

THE KINGSBRIDGE & SALCOMBE RAILWAY

 

A POTTED HISTORY

This single track branch line ran from a junction on the main line at South Brent between Totnes and Ivybridge to Kingsbridge. Although authorised in the act of parliment the continuation to Salcombe was never built. All intermediate stations seem to have become homes. South Brent and Kingsbridge no longer exist in any form. All intermediate stations also fell vivtim to becoming un-maned halts during their working life.

 

It was closed in 1963 and shortly afterward the preservation group missed out by days on buying it. A scrap deal signed just days before they had the complete amount.

 

In 1849 the South Devon Railway reached Plymouth with its broad gauge railway, connecting South Devon to London over friendly associate railways. People in Kingsbridge and district felt cut off from the benefits of railway connection, and in 1854 an ambitious project was put forward at a public meeting: the line was to run from Churston to Kingsbridge. The meeting generated huge enthusiasm, but little money was forthcoming and the scheme went no further.

 

Ten years went by and in January 1864 another meeting took place in Kingsbridge proposing a more modest scheme from Brent station on the South Devon Railway main line to Salcombe via Kingsbridge. The cost of construction was to be £130,000, and this time tangible support was available; the scheme went to Parliament and obtained its authorising Act for the Kingsbridge and Salcombe Railway on 29 July 1864, capital £130,000.

 

This early success was not followed with much actual money, but two years later several deviations were required and even more capital needed; an Act of 23 July 1866 authorised additional capital of £60,000. A Mr Chambers was persuaded to be the contractor to the impecunious Company and work started a year later, on 24 June 1867. In fact very little was done[note 1] and in 1871 it was proposed to abandon the scheme due to lack of money.

 

Site of the junction at South Brent for Kingsbridge.

Ten more years went by, and a new Kingsbridge and Salcombe Railway was authorised by Act of 24 July 1887; the new Company purchased the rights of the earlier line for £3,500, and it was to run to Ibberton Head at Salcombe. Capital was to be £160,000 for the 16 mile line, and working arrangements were provisionally agreed with the Great Western Railway (GWR), which by now had absorbed the South Devon Railway.

 

Yet again enthusiastic planning was not matched by the putting forward of finance, and a year later only £1,500 had been subscribed.

 

Clearly nothing could be done in the circumstances, until on 28 October 1885 discussions took place with the GWR with a view to their taking over the scheme. A figure of £8,000 was tabled, increased to £10,000 which seemed to be acceptable at first. Then ambiguities over land supposed to have been acquired by the old Company was legally owned. Further meetings dragged on until on 21 March 1888 at Paddington, the purchase (of the unbuilt line) was finally agreed. It was formally confirmed on 13 June 1888.[2]

 

Construction and opening[edit]

With the resources of the GWR behind the scheme, construction now proceeded. The cost of the construction, which included 48 bridges, was £180,000. The line opened on 19 December 1893, 39 years after the first project was put forward.[2]Wrangaton station had been renamed Kingsbridge Road, but reverted to its original name on the same day.[3]

 

 

 

A claim to fame was that Field Marshal Montgomery used the line twice during World war II, first to review American troops training in the area and second in 1944 during Exercise Tiger.

 

Closure[edit]

After WW II like all railways its passenger numbers succumbed to the popularity of the car Losses were stated to be £37,759 annually. The line closed to goods from 9 September 1963, and was to have closed completely on that date; however there was a delay in the substitute bus company obtaining the necessary licence, and the last train ran on 14 September 1963.[2]

 

SOUTH BRENT

The original station was not ready when the railway was opened coming into service 6 weeks later 15 June 1848, but was enlarged with the subsequent opening of the Kingsbridge Branch on 19 December 1893, the station became a junction. It closed on 16 September 1963 after which the passenger numbers fell far short of necessitating a station on the main line any more. Goods traffic ceased on 6 April 1964 and passenger traffic on 5 October 1964. The signal box was retained until 17 December 1973 when control of the line was transferred to the power signal box at Plymouth.

 

The former signalbox and goods shed on the westbound (Plymouth) side are still intact

 

Historic OS Map showing where the station was positioned.

Satellite image showing that most of the track bed is still visible apart from a small section that is ploughed out and most pertinently severed by the A38 making reinstatement too expensive to be realistically considered

AVONWICK

It continued falling, less steeply to Gara Bridge

Historic OS Map showing where the station was positioned somewhat to the south of the village.

Historic picture looking up the platrom as train steams into view.

The station as a private home some 10 yrars ago. Note the conopy used as the roof to a conservatory.

GARA BRIDGE

and almost to Loddiswell. Rising there at 1 in 50, it reached a summit at Sorley Tunnel, from where it fell again at 1 in 50 to Kingsbridge.

 

Histiric picture of the station where you can see the access road coming down from the main road and station forecourt.

Taken a few years ago now the station beautifully maintained even with the signal box at the end of the garden.

KINGSBRIDGE

 

Kingsbridge railway station was the terminus station of the single track branch GWR line from Brent to the town of Kingsbridge.

 

Opened in December 1893 the stone built station served the town and the surrounding area. The station was also the railhead for the town of Salcombe. Work was started on construction of the extension of the line from Kingsbridge to Salcombe but work was soon abandoned. Popular for both local and leisure travel the station ironically saw a 25% increase in traffic during its last year of operation [1]

 

Despite a great deal of local opposition, the station was closed for freight and passengers on 16 September 1963, and the site is now covered by an industrial estate.