The History Of The South Devon Railway

Just over half an hour away from our family friendly Devon accommodation by the sea, The South Devon Railway is one of the West Country’s most loved tourist attractions and well worth a visit.

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Everything You Need To Know About The South Devon Railway

South Devon Railway has certainly been around for a long time (it first opened in May 1872), but what you might be surprised to learn is that it has changed hands several times throughout its history.

Don’t be stuck for things to do in South Devon during your holiday – read on to find out some things you might not have heard about South Devon Railway and plan a visit during your stay!

  • Operated by the original South Devon Railway, the company was taken over by the Great Western Railway in 1876.
  • The line never made a profit. Mainly used for coal, cider and other agricultural necessities, the line served the local population well and apart from the frequent blowing of smoke and the tooting of a horn, it had a quiet albeit busy existence.
  • In 1948 the line became part of the Western Region of British Railways.
  • When cars started to become popular, takings began to decrease. In 1958 the line ceased taking passengers but freight haulage continued until 1962.
  • In 1965 the line became a tourist line renamed the Dart Valley Railway. Services from Buckfastleigh and Totnes started in 1969, but when the A38 was widened in 1971 Buckfastleigh to Ashburton service was scrapped.
  • In 1989 the Dart Valley Railway company announced that they were considering closing the line if they could not find another operator to take over.
  • In 1991 volunteers running the line came up with a plan to save it. And so a registered charity took over the lease, changing their name to The South Devon Railway Trust and they restored the line’s title to The South Devon Railway.

Since 1991, the line has gone from strength to strength and over 100,000 passengers used the line in 2007 resulting in the line being named Heritage Railway of the Year. There is plenty to do along the line with an informative museum, historic steam and diesel locomotives, a play area, a picnic area and gardens, riverside walks – there’s even a model railway. On select dates, you can also have a day out with Thomas The Tank Engine!

We hope to have piqued your interest in The South Devon Railway. If you’re looking to pay a visit, ride the rails and learn even more about its rich history then why not stay at our family friendly holiday accommodation in Devon?

Our hotel is the perfect base for short breaks in Devon, so you and your family can enjoy all that South Devon has to offer at your own pace. Book directly with us or call 01626 868000 to get the best rates.