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Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Re-construction

Unlike Volk's Railway the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway was definitely Southern! One of the quintessential memories of the Southern Railway must surely be the little Manning Wardle tanks proudly bearing the legend "Southern" in huge letters on their side tanks. These pages are not, however, dedicated to this brave little narrow gauge line that ran through some of the prettiest North Devon countryside, calling at little villages with wonderful names such as Snapper and Parracombe whilst joining the valleys of the River Yeo and West Lyn. That railway died, unfortunately, in 1935 after just 37 years of operation.
This is about the beginning of the realisation of a dream held by many during the past few decades of re-building this line, restoring the route to its former glory. During the past few years a new Lynton & Barnstaple Railway has slowly emerged which today owns the stations at Chelfham and Woody Bay, plus the track bed from Woody Bay to the outskirts of Parracombe. In addition, when Chelfham viaduct, which is still the responsibility of the Railtrack Property Board, was recently repaired, the L&B paid the extra costs necessary to bring it up to train-carrying standards and to replace the parapets. The railway started a limited public service on 17 July 2004 and with that aim in mind had started track-laying at Woody Bay during August 2002.
 
Notice The plaque at Woody Bay station on 22nd August 2002.
The 'phone at Woody Bay rings from time to time with the caller enquiring after times of trains!

photograph by Peter Richards

 
On arrival at Woody Bay station one was greeted by a plaque bearing the following legend:
"The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway was opened in 1898 and closed in 1935.
This station, Woody Bay, acquired in 1995, is one of four stations between the terminus at Lynton and the main line station at Barnstaple. In 1999, Chelfham station was purchased and the following year the adjacent viaduct underwent major restoration partly funded by donations from members.
The Lynton & Barnstaple railway Company was formed in 1993 by the members of the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Association, now a Trust, with the aim of reconstructing as much as possible of the original railway.
Despite the length of time since closure remarkably little develpoment has taken place on the route of the railway. Given the continuing support of the public, landowners and the local authorities it is possible that the entire railway between Lynton and Barnstaple could one day be reopened, with the potential of becoming one of the most famous heritage railways in the world.
 
Inside the station building at Woody Bay was the plan of work being carried out there. The aim is to restore it to the condition it was in when the line closed, plus three extra sidings and a locomotive shed.

photograph by Peter Richards

Plan
 
Building The station building adjacent to the up platform. The original station entrance was directly in front of the building, but as this is on the now-busy A39 main road, a new entrance has had to be constructed a little further to the south, (to the right of this picture) leading to a car park area.

photograph by Peter Richards

 
This is how the station building looked six years earlier in 1996. Prior to being bought by the present railway, the old station house had been used as a rather primitive holiday home with neither water nor electricity.

photograph by Marion Richards

Building
 
Name board and hut The replica station name board, fixed to the original posts, and the signal cabin, adjacent to the station buildings.

photograph by Peter Richards

 
The replica station name board (also on the original posts) and two-lever groundframe situated on the Down platform. Further along this platform can presently be seen the remains of an original wooden name board. It is, however, in too poor shape for restoration!

photograph by Peter Richards

Name board and ground frame
 
Track laying The track-laying gang, 22nd August 2002. The upper line leads to the car park where it will form a transhipment siding. Continuing in the direction of the lower line is the main trackbed towards Parracombe. Despite Parracombe being a reasonable sized village, it only warranted a Halt!

photograph by Peter Richards

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This page was last updated 24 July 2003

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