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Lyme Regis Branch

Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis station in September 1965, shortly before closure.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas

 
Lyme Regis is one of those towns whose occupants tried for many, many years to have a railway serve it, but were met with failure after failure of various schemes put forward. Shortly after the last plea to the L&SWR to build a line to Lyme had been met with a refusal an independent line, the Axminster to Lyme Regis Light Railway, was proposed. Authorised on 15th June 1899 the company began construction on 19th June 1900. The line was 5 miles and 5.6 chains long and terminated at the L&SWR's main line in a bay platform at Axminster station. Inspected on 21st August 1903, the line opened to traffic the following Monday, 24th August. The line's independent years were few, though, as it had financial difficulties from the start and was bought by the L&SWR for £55,000 worth of their stock on 1st January 1907.

During its early years there was a good amount of goods traffic though passenger numbers were slow to build up. Excursion traffic provided a regular flow of summer passengers though this was halted during WWI and faced road competition shortly after the end of the war. A bad day for the railway was 8th July 1922 when the National Omnibus Company started a route in direct competition between Axminster and Lyme Regis. Following absorbtion into the Southern Railway some increase in excursion traffic follwed together with through carriages to and from Waterloo, introduced for the summer timetable, with a regular Sunday timetable operating for the first time in 1930.

 
Axminster A single unit "Bubble Car" sits in the bay platform at Axminster in September 1965, ready to depart for Exeter Central. The bay was situated on the north side of the station and once away from the station area the line climbed at 1 in 80 and swung sharply left on a 10 chain radius to cross over the main line before heading for Lyme Regis.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas

 
The view from inside the unit as it makes its way down the branch. As can be seen in this and other photos, this particular day in 1965 was rather wet.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas

Lyme Regis branch
 
Axminster Combpyne station as seen from an approaching train. On the far side of the very grassy platform was the loop, removed in 1930, and beyond that a siding that was taken out of use in 1960.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas

 
Another view of the station buildings at Combpyne. These were slightly unusual in their situation in that they were set back from the line with some distance bewteen them and the platform, which in turn was the other side of the loop road/siding.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas

Axminster
 
Lyme Regis branch There was just one notable feature on the line and that was Cannington Viaduct. This was up to 93 feet above the ground below, 203 yards long and with ten arches, the lowest of which was some 53 feet high.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas

 
The view looking through the gate to the cattle dock, now deprived of any track, with the ex-Signalbox on view in the background. The engine shed had been further from the station to the right of the line.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas

Axminster
 
Lyme Regis branch The single unit diesel railcar in the platform with no destination showing on its blind. The trackwork by 1965 had been severely reduced as there had been a run-round loop and three sidings on the empty ground beyond this train.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas

 
A view of the Lyme Regis ex-Signalbox. No longer in use for that purpose as the line had been reduced to one engine in steam operation from 1960. Compare this photograph with the one here to see how the track layout had been rationalised by this time.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas

Axminster
 
Lyme Regis branch Another view of the ex-Signalbox with the station beyond. The road to the cattle dock ran behind the 'box, before it was lifted, as can just be seen in the photographed linked from the one above.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas

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This page was created 12 May 2010

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