SEmG

Torrington

This new line was for mineral traffic only, probably not what most of the residents of Torrington had wanted, but it did bring clay tarffic to Torrington station where it was transferred to the standard gauge company's wagons in a long interchange siding. Some forty five years later, in 1925, the grandiosely named standard gauge North Devon & Cornwall Junction Light Railway was opened, finally giving Torrington a passenger service south towards Plymouth, though via Halwill rather than earlier proposals of Sampford Courtenay or Okehampton. The authorisation for this line via Hatherleigh to Halwill, where it made a junction with the line to Okehampton, was granted in 1914 though the combined effects of WWI and the inflation of the period led to work not actually starting until 30th June 1922. This line was engineered by the well-known champion of independent light railways, Col H. F. Stephens. A condition of some local funding stipulated that the line had to be built with labour provided by local men, to assist in alleviating the high unemployment in the area. Most of the new line used the trackbed of the Marland line, with initially a third rail laid so that the clay traffic was not interrupted during construction. Once the ND&CJLR opened, on 23rd July 1925, the narrow gauge system was cut back to just within the company's works with clay now leaving in standard gauge wagons, no longer requiring transhipment in Torrington goods yard.
 
The 1965 view of the approach to Torrington from the south.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas.

Torrington
 
Torrington An ND&CJLR train for Halwill about to depart on 1st September 1961.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas.

 
Ivatt Class 2 tank Nº41298 ready to depart northwards on 1st September 1961.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas.

Torrington
 
Torrington The girder bridge carrying the ND&CJLR over the lane immediately south of the station.

photograph by Nigel Brodrick.

 
The Torrington goods shed that was later demolished to make way for the ICI fertilizer depot.

photograph by Nigel Brodrick.

Torrington
 
The line north from Torrington was always busy, especially so in the 1950s with, in summer 1955, seven through coaches to Waterloo Monday to Friday and thirteen on Saturdays in addition to the Barnstaple Junction trains. The three sidings at Torrington became very congested with the stock for all these services and at times the yard had to be cleared of wagons.
Whereas the line north from Torrington was faily busy with both respectable passenger and goods loadings, that to the south was very quiet. Passenger loadings were minimal and goods traffic was, apart from the clay traffic, light, though there were a number of private sidings along the route. Diesel traction took over the line from 6th September 1964, with two through trains a day running through from Halwill to Barnstaple and return, two a day from Taunton to Torrington with one return journey plus one working from Torrington to Salisbury. There were also trains to and from Barnstaple Junction to connect with the Exeter-Ildracombe trains. Mainly single, two-car or three-car multiple units were used for these services, though there was still some loco-hauled stock using North British Type 2 locos.
 
Torrington A North British Type 2, NºD6331, with a short clay train and a "Bubble Car" in Torrington up platform during September 1965. Known for their unreliablity, one of these NB locos failed at Torrington during a proving trip on 7th May 1963 from Plymouth via Halwill, Torrington and Barnstaple to Taunton. The "Bubble Car" seems to have something wrong with its off-side windscreen wiper mechanism!

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas.

 
The milk loading facility shed at the south end of the main goods shed.

photograph by Nigel Brodrick.

Torrington
 
Torrington A milk tanker is inside the goods shed, with several more waiting in a siding. The original milk loading depot was situated, inconveniently, through the goods shed, allowing only three tankers at a time to be loaded (or, occasionally, unloaded). They then had to be shunted out of the way before three more could be brought in. The new loading facility was subsequently built on the up platform to avoid this inconvenience.

photograph by Nigel Brodrick.

 
A closer view of some milk tankers at Torrington. Milk was delivered to Torrington by lorry, then pumped into the stainless steel tankers using the pipework provided (enough for seven tankers at a time at the new loading facility) taking up to thirty minutes for each tanker. The tanks were not cleaned out at Torrington but when the tankers reached their destination.

photograph by Nigel Brodrick.

Torrington

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This page was last updated 6 July 2010

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