SEmG

Torrington

The 1960s saw passenger traffic levels dropping away and from 27th February 1965 passenger traffic was withdrawn between Halwill and Torrington and general goods traffic was withdrawn bewteen Halwill and Barnstaple. Then the following October passenger services were withdrawn between Torrington and Barnstaple Junction, with the last train the steam-hauled "Exmoor Ranger" railtour on 3rd October, the day after the cessation of the regular passenger services. The line was not closed, however, as it remained open northwards for the Torrington milk traffic and the clay traffic from Meeth. Initially the line prospered as a goods-only line, with empty clay wagons and milk tankers coming in and loaded ones leaving to the north. Torrington signalbox remained in use until 20th September 1970 when the down loop was converted to a siding and the 'box closed. A new milk loading depot was built in the mid-1970s, coming into use in March 1976, but this was very short-lived as the last milk tankers left Torrington on 12th October 1978. The very last train of all was the "Last Train to Torrington" railtour, of 6th November 1982, which ran from Bristol (Temple Meads).
 
Torrington The view from the station looking north towards Bideford and Barnstaple. Photographed on 1st September 1961

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas.

 
The view from the ND&CJLR train for Halwill as it steams on to the viaduct on 1st September 1961.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas.

Torrington
 
Torrington The noticeboard on the station wall in September 1965. The two left posters promote rail travel whilst the two on the right advise of the forthcoming cessation of passenger traffic!.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas.

 
A not very distinct close-up of the closure notice.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas.

Torrington
 
Torrington The ND&CJLR viaduct carrying the line across the River Torridge to the south of Torrington.

photograph by Nigel Brodrick.

 
Looking down to the river below the viaduct the old bridge piers from the days of the 3 foot gauge Torrington and Marland Railway are plainly visible. Photographed during September 1965.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas.

Torrington
   
In the mid 1970s a big new customer arrived at Torrington in the form of a major fertilizer depot for ICI. For this the entire down platform, the goods shed and the original milk loading depot were demolished and three sidings were cut back. A large new building was erected and opened for business in April 1976. Most of the fertilizer was delivered to the depot by rail, in 50 kg. bags, using standard BR 12 ton vans. However, about this time the fertilizer business developed a standard load of 1,500 tonnes on pallets, to be handled mechanically, which was quite unsuitable for loading in a standard BR 12 ton van. In addition, of ICI's 65 depots, only six, including Torrington, were rail connected, which led to the inevitable. The last fertilizer vans arrived at Torrington on 11th January 1980 after which date it was all moved by road.
A view of the viaduct from water level.

photograph by Nigel Brodrick.

Torrington
 
Torrington And now from up on high.

photograph by Nigel Brodrick.

 
During the 1980s the clay traffic declined, partly as a result of the limited number of wagons that could be hauled by the Type 2 diesels used and partly due to the age and condition of these wagons. Plans and costings were drawn up for new, larger capacity, wagons to be introduced. Some new wagons were built but improvements to the track to allow their use were not made as the anticipated level of traffic did not justify the expenditure, so they were never used through Torrington. Instead the line was closed from Barnstaple to Meeth. Closure was supposed to happen on 31st August 1982 but was delayed with clay trains still running as late as 13th September 1982, plus some special passenger services between Barnstaple and Torrington run by Roger Joannes.
 
Tyer's No 6 tablet 'B' configuration, used for the single line section between Torrington and Petrockstow, which was introduced 1925 and taken out of use in 1967 after which the remaining line from Torrington to Meeth was worked as a siding. Note the 'Jct' suffix!

photograph by Chris Osment.

Torrington
 
The longest, and best patronised, train ever to run to Torrington was the very last, the "Last Train to Torrington", of 6th November 1982 from Bristol (Temple Meads). The unoccupied station building was then auctioned off a couple of years later and was converted into the "Puffing Billy" restaurant.
 
Torrington A ticket from the "Last Train to Torrington", of 6th November 1982.

ticket scan by Chris Osment.

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