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Exeter Central

The down platform was extended at the eastern end to a total of 950 feet, whilst the remnants of the old loco depot were cleared away and replaced by a 3-road carriage shed. The work then concentrated on construction of the new station buildings, which were built at road level on Queen Street and at right angles to the railway in the prevailing SR 1930s brick and reinforced concrete style. The building was designed as a two-storey crescent, 259 feet long, with a central three-storey section 77 feet wide and surmounted by a small tower. The ground floor wings were let for shops or offices, whilst the railway retained the central entrance and also all the upper floor space for its own staff. Access from the booking hall was via a footbridge to the up and down main platforms. The site fell steeply to the rear and further office space was provided in the basement. At the east end of the station the original footbridge was replaced by a new 120 feet long concrete structure - manufactured at the SR's own concrete works at nearby Exmouth Junction - and a new entrance opened onto New North Road, where a second booking hall was provided.

Even before the re-building there had been an extensive goods yard behind the up platform, together with a large brick goods shed. There were also a few sidings on the up side at the head of the incline from St David's which served various traders' stores, and a feature of this location was a number of wagon turntables which were kept in service at least until the late 1950s. A notice at the entrance to these sidings read "Only tank engines of the 0-4-4, 0-6-0 and 0-6-2 types may pass over the turntables on Nº2 siding. Speed not to exceed 5 MPH". On the opposite side of the incline the down sidings were rebuilt to provide eight roads for coach berthing sidings - in fact various sidings in the station vicinity could hold up to 73 coaches.

 
Contrast this July 2000 picture with the penultimate picture on the previous page as it was taken from a similar position on the up platform. The footbridge has hardly changed although it has been refurbished in the interim. The Class 50s are now long since gone.

photograph by Colin Duff

Exeter Central
 
Exeter Central The station has become brighter and better kept in recent years. The down platform is on the left and up platform on the right.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
Exeter Central

photograph by Colin Duff

.....and more colourful in 2000 as exhibited in this photograph of the up
platform running in board. The station is currently branded in Regional
Railways Wales and West (now Alphaline Wales and West) colours
though there remains evidence of former incongruous (given the City's
prominent western location) Network SouthEast branding.

 
The L&SWR had provided three signal-boxes to control Queen Street station. The 'A' box was situated on the up side immediately to the west of the Pennsylvania Road bridge, whilst the 'B' box was located on the down side immediately west of New North Road bridge near to the eastern end of the down platform. The 'C' box had been sited on the down side at the head of the incline to St David's, but this was replaced (possibly as early as 1875, but certainly by 1888) by a new box positioned - rather curiously - at the end of the down through line, which then became a dead-end siding. All three boxes were replaced by the SR by two new boxes, which became known after 1933 as Exeter Central 'A' and 'B'. The new 'A' box was situated on the up side a short distance west of the Howell Road bridge (opposite the site of the earlier engine shed) and was opened on 15th June 1927 - it contained a 90-lever frame, making it the largest SR signal-box west of Salisbury. The new 'B' box had been opened two years previously on 13th September 1925 - it was sited just off the western end of the up platform and contained a 35-lever frame. Both new signal-boxes were built to the Type 4A style and contained lever-frames manufactured by Tyer to the older Stevens pattern favoured by the L&SWR/SR, but with the frames positioned at the rear of the boxes.

Although much of the signalling was renewed in subsequent years it remained in essence very much as the SR had installed it well into the 1960s, complete with a few idiosyncratic features. The starting signal for the down platform line ('B' box number 35) was located on the platform itself under the canopy, where the restricted clearance meant that this signal retained a lower-quadrant (LQ) arm long after almost all the others around the station had been replaced as upper-quadrants - indeed this arm survived as one of the last few LQ arms remaining on the entire ex-L&SWR system until it was swept away by colour-light signalling in 1984. Another LQ survivor was the arm of the signal controlling the exit from the up sidings at the head of the incline ('B' box number 8), which had a large 'S' fixed to its face - this signal survived until the sidings were taken out of use in 1969. At the east end of the up platform departing trains had a choice of two routes onto the up main line and the starting signal therefore carried two arms ('A' box numbers 2 and 3), but positioned one above the other rather than on a bracket (probably because of restricted clearance), and this hang-over from an earlier practice lasted until trackwork rationalisation in 1969 eliminated one of the routes.

 
Exeter Central The now closed 1925 'B' signal box still remains. Note the discarded Network SouthEast mechanical digital clocks underneath the balcony.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The interior of 'A' box in 1984 showing the shortened 50 lever frame.

photograph by Chris Osment

Exeter Central
 
Exeter Central The down bay starter and footbridge to the New North Road entrance in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Note the faded and peeling Southern Region green and buff paintwork still in existence.

photograph by Paul Martin.

 
The down bay looking towards Queen Street in July 2000. The retaining wall here is said to be built from the remains of the castle.

photograph by Colin Duff

Exeter Central

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This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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