Kingsbridge & Salcombe Railway
Great Western Railway
BR Western Region
A POTTED HISTORY
People in the Kingsbridge district felt cut off from the benefits of railway connection after the South Devon Railway reached Plymouth 1849, giving direct access to London via the GWR who were in fact large backers of the SDR. Despite great enthusiasm each time there was a plan to open a railway into Kingsbridge, three schemes failed to get beyond the Act of Parliament to authorise its building through severe lack of investment.
Finally, on 28 October 1885 discussions took place with the GWR with a view to their taking over the scheme. Due to wranglings over land ownership, 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.
With the resources of the GWR behind the scheme, construction now went ahead. The single track branch line ran from a junction on the main line at South Brent between Totnes and Ivybridge to Kingsbridge opened on 19 December 1893, 39 years after the first project was put forward. Although authorised in the act of parliment the continuation to Salcombe was never built.
All intermediate stations also fell vivtim to becoming un-maned halts during their working life and seem to have become homes after clousure in 1963, a preservation group having missed out by days on buying it. A scrap deal signed just days before they had the complete amount. South Brent and Kingsbridge no longer exist in any form.
The line saw a great increase in traffic duriing WWII due to American service men being billeted in the area prior to D Day. During that time Field Marshal Montgomery used the line twice, first to review American troops training in the area and second in 1944 during Exercise Tiger.
After the war, 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.