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HISTORY CALENDAR

The Plym Valley Railway has a story reaching back over 50 years - we will adding it to our website soon...... In the meantime Here is a link to the Wikipedia page for the railway!


The Railway from Plymouth to Launceston – The History of the Line.


The Railway line was opened by the South Devon & Tavistock Railway on June 22nd 1859, and ran from Plymouth (Tavistock Junction) to Tavistock.  On 1st June 1865 the line was extended to Launceston, via Lydford, by the Launceston & South Devon Railway.  Both these companies were subsidiaries of the South Devon Company Incorporated, who had operated the lines from the beginning.  They were amalgamated into the South Devon Company on 31st December 1873.


On the 1st January 1876, the Great Western Railway (G.W.R) took over all of the South Devon lines, and, for a time this became just one of many G.W.R branch lines.  However on 12th October 1874, The London & South Western Railway had opened a line from Okehampton to Lydford.  The Act of Parliament for the two parts of the G.W.R branch line had built into it running powers, which allowed the LSWR to run from Lydford to a new station at Kings Road, Devonport, Plymouth.


The original track had been built to Brunel’s broad gauge of seven and one quarter inches, so to accommodate the L.S.W.R trains a third rail had to be introduced.  To complicate matters, at Lee Moor Crossing, the Lee Moor Tramway had a four foot six inch gauge, this crossed the railway line and so gave rise to a very rare three gauge crossing.  The remains of this crossing can still be seen at the Plym Valley Railway today.  At Lee Moor Crossing, where the train continues to Plym Bridge Platform, the current cycle path crossing the line follows the old Lee Moor Tramway route.  At the time of its operation, the horse drawn Lee Moor Tramway wagons took precedence over the steam hauled trains.  On 2nd June 1890, the L.S.W.R ran from Lydford to Devonport, via Tavistock North and Bere Alston and so the line became a G.W.R only branch line again.  At the great gauge conversion from 22nd to 24th May 1892, the branch line was converted to the standard four foot, eight and a half inch gauge we see today.


In the 20th century there was a boom in rail travel, from the Edwardian period and through the Second World War.  After this had finished the line became part of British Railways, (Western Region). By the end of the 1950’s, it had become very vulnerable to competition from the roads, and the passenger service was withdrawn from the 31st December 1962.  The withdrawal delayed by the heavy blizzards experienced that year.  In 1964 Marsh Mills to Tavistock was closed completely and the rails lifted.  Within two years the northern freight sections were abandoned and, on 4th April 1965 a new link from Tavistock Junction served both the china clay works and the Coypool M.O.D. depot, both of which have since closed.


The Plym and Tamar Valleys Railway Association began at a meeting in February 1980 and the name was shortly changed to the Plym Valley Railway in 1981. The railway’s long term goal was to restore the line from Marsh Mills- now situated at a new site from the original platform- to Plym Bridge.


The history of the railway will be continued shortly.