South Devon has some of the most breathtaking railway routes in the whole of England. Transport around Devon has a breadth of history surrounding it, with many railways lost or abandoned over the years. Running alongside the River Dart, South Devons railway is a truly astounding experience, and it might be getting longer! Recently, the people of Devon have risen up in support to re-open many of Devon’s lost railway stations.
It was in 1848 when a train first ran through the tracks of South Devon Railway station. Transport and tourism go hand in hand, hence why so many Devonians want to see their beloved train stations reopen. When you visit Salcombe there is a wide variety of things to see and do and South Devon’s Railway is a must-see for any steam train fanatics, or those just looking to kick back and relax.
The History of South Devon’s Railway
The South Devon Railway was built in 1872 and is one of the most popular steam trains to visit by train lovers and tourists alike. Initially, the line was mainly used to transport coal, wood and other materials as well as the people of South Devon. Sadly, in the 19th and early 20th century, the railway line saw little action and wasn’t incredibly popular. The villages that the railway runs through didn’t have a high enough demand for passenger trains, thus the line stopped serving passengers in 1958.
The railway and South Devons stations sat dormant for over a decade before the newly renamed ‘Dart Valley Railway’ was used by passengers for the first time in 1969. The Dart Valley Railway ran until 1989, just 20 years after boarding their first passengers. Again, the railway line was deemed uneconomical and left once more. Despite being abandoned twice, local volunteers saw an opportunity to revitalise the railway as a charity organisation. Hence, The South Devon Railway was born, named after the first company to ever drive trains over the tracks.
Since reopening under the new name as a charity, the South Devon Railway has continued to expand. Tourists love to take an afternoon trip along the gorgeous River Dart and see the decades-old train stations along the way.
Travel Back in Time
The best part of South Devon’s railway is the opportunity to travel back in time on a real steam engine train. This is topped off by the outstanding scenery and preserved, historical train stations along the route. Devonshire locals love the railway, hence two MPs have begun their campaign to reopen two South Devon Stations. Not only for nostalgic value, but more railway services in Devon would stop the massive environmental impact of cars in the summer. Driving a car to Devon is one of the most popular ways to arrive, and for some visitors, driving might be the only option.
However, the largest congestion issues come from drivers in and around small sea-side towns, like Salcombe. The roads in these towns aren’t built for the amount of tourism that comes each summer. Therefore, a running railway line would reduce traffic, improve air quality and make Devon easier to explore.
The stations that they’re hoping to bring back are Goodrington and Churston, which are situated in between Paignton and Brixham. The lost railway stations have been out of use since the 1970s. Yet some locals believe that revitalising these stations will better Devon’s economy and restore some nostalgia around the county. Currently, MPs Anthony Mangnall and Kevin Foster are planning to propose their idea at the beginning of March if there is enough local support.
Currently, Staverton is a favourite station on the South Devon Railway line. The station has remained unchanged for 100 years. The quaint station is enough to send you back in time to a century ago when it served the small village of Staverton and its farmers. It’s a small town that has beautiful riverside walks and is perfect for a relaxing day out. Devon’s steam trains are an experience you don’t want to miss out on when visiting Salcombe.
The Importance of South Devon’s Railway
Devon has a rich history, centred around tourism, transport and the sea, which would all benefit from the revitalisation of our historical train stations. More transport links around Devon will allow tourists to visit every village or town and discover that each one has its own stories to tell, for example, Salcombe has a broad history of its own. Tourists love to visit South Devon to get a taste of the quaint, sea-side life and the South Devon Railway really tops off the experience. It’s not every day you get to relax on a real steam engine, watching the River Dart gently go by.