Gallery Group – South West

Slade Tunnel on the LSWR branch line from Barnstaple Junction to Ilfracombe (Jane Ellis)
A set of points on the Haytor Granite Tramway on Dartmoor. This trackbed is a scheduled ancient monument and was opened in 1820 (Jane Ellis)
These are the remains of the engine house which once hauled wagons up Comberow Incline on the West Somerset Railway… July 2004 (Ivor Sutton)
The Camel Estuary railway path between Wadebridge and Padstow is one of the most scenic to be found anywhere in the country. This is Little Petherick Creek three-span girder bridge. Nowadays, the route is extremely popular with walkers and cyclists (Kevin Arnold)
Meldon Viaduct near Okehampton. It is one of only two wrought iron viaducts which survives in this country. A total length of 540 feet, 120 feet above the valley floor. It was built for the LSWR in 1874 (Bob Prigg)
The Cheesewring Branch, featuring the L&CR’s distinctive sleepers. This type of sleeper was commonplace on horse-drawn tramways and took the form of separate stone blocks either side of a central ‘gangway’ where the horses pulled their load. The area around Caradon Hill features many miles of trackbed like this (Bob Prigg)
Not all of the engineering structures on the former Lynton & Barnstaple Railway have been as lucky to survive as Chelfham Viaduct. Many of the bridges were constructed in a delightful vernacular style but rampant vegetation is a frequent problem, as seen here (Richard Martin)
Lady Wimborne Bridge on the southern outskirts of Wimborne Minster is one of the most elaborate railway bridges anywhere in the United Kingdom, and is now cared for by local volunteers. The path below used to be the carriageway to Canford House, once the home of Lord and Lady Wimborne but now used by Canford School. Just to the right of the bridge was Wimborne Junction, where the line from Broadstone was joined by a branch from Corfe Mullen on the Somerset & Dorset Railway (Jeff Vinter)
An unusual feature of the Par Tramway is that sections of this 2 ft. gauge line were never lifted and still remain in place, even though last used in 1874. The length seen here is just outside Par. Note that flat-bottomed rail was used in the construction (Richard Lewis)
For much of its length, the former GWR branch line from Yelverton to Princetown is now an official railway path. Here the old line, seen looking towards Princetown, curves around Burrator Reservoir, the main water supply for Plymouth which lies some 7 miles to the south west (Richard Lewis)
The Princetown branch is not the best old railway on which to go looking for engineering features, since it does little more than follow the contours to gain height, which explains why its route is so serpentine. However, just beyond the site of Ingra Tor Halt, this fine bridge survives at grid reference SX 563725 (Richard Lewis)
Bideford station, showing the relaid track, the replica signal box, and the Mark I carriage which serves refreshments (Jeff Vinter)
The West Somerset Mineral Railway linked various iron ore mines on the Brendon Hills with the port of Watchet on the Bristol Channel. The trackbed includes this dramatic cutting between the foot of Comberow Incline and Roadwater. The trackbed here is a permissive footpath, accessible from the Roadwater (i.e. north) end (Simon Jones)
There is an unusual occupation bridge part way down the West Somerset’s Mineral Railway’s Comberow Incline. The bridge is unusual in that its arches are of different sizes, while the stonework on both sides is different also (Simon Jones)
This is the other side of the occupation bridge (Simon Jones)
West of Glastonbury Station on the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway. Today, the casual walker would hardly know that so much railway infrastructure had been here. The trackbed now forms part of a Sustrans cycle trail from Glastonbury to Shapwick, this section being known as the ‘Willow Walk’ (Ron Strutt)
At the end of the Willow Walk, the trackbed crosses the River Brue by the largest girder bridge remaining on a the branch, this being a structure which featured in the BBC documentary, ‘The Friendly Line to Burnham’, presented by John Betjeman before he received his knighthood. The bridge is immediately followed by a level crossing over a minor road, where the keeper’s cottage still survives. Note Glastonbury Tor, which is just visible in the top right of the picture (Ron Strutt)
Sandford & Banwell Station on the Cheddar Valley line in Somerset in 2009. The station is now a museum to the Cheddar Valley line, while the goods shed accommodates a café/restaurant – a very convenient facility for users of the railway-based Strawberry Line cycle trail from Cheddar to Yatton, which passes nearby. (Alan Simpson)
The trackbed of the Princetown Branch in 2010 curves off to the left in the vicinity of Swelltor Quarry. Lumps of granite provide silent testimony to the hard physical graft that used to take place here. Despite the fact that the line gained height by following the contours, some sizeable embankments were still necessary, as can be seen from the example in the foreground (Chris Bedford)
Uncollected corbels for London Bridge still litter parts of the quarry site. There are 650 corbels incorporated in the bridge! The bridge was sold to a wealthy American in 1968 and now spans Lake Havasu in Arizona Chris Bedford)
After passing Swelltor Quarry, the branch runs on an embankment around the western slopes of King’s Tor, which can be seen through the arch. This bridge was almost certainly constructed to allow water draining off of the tor to pass safely under the line (Chris Bedford)
The Princetown trackbed in the vicinity of Foggintor Quarry, which (not to be outdone by its neighbour at Swelltor) supplied the granite sections of Nelson’s Column (Chris Bedford)
Two separate railways served Princetown in their time. The first of these was the Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway, opened in September 1823. In this photograph, taken near the Princetown terminus, the two lines can be seen diverging – the GWR branch line on the left, and the earlier P&DR on the right. September 2005 (Richard Lewis)
Abbotsbury goods shed in use by the local farmer, complete a with a green-painted end door that looks as if it was painted last by decorators from BR’s Southern Region. Note the rusty loading gauge, which hangs precariously in place over 50 years since it was last used. February 2009 (Jeff Vinter)
Portesham’s diminutive goods shed. A loop ran immediately in front of the building, with a siding to the right of the picture that led off to a nearby quarry. June 2009 (Jeff Vinter)
Cole Station on the S&D’s main line from Bath to Broadstone, seen from a nearby footpath on a crisp and bright day in early 2010 (Richard Lewis)
South of Shillingstone, looking south east towards Stourpaine. November 2010 (Jeff Vinter)
The south side of a new span over the River Stour. This is the view looking north west towards Gains Cross from the Stourpaine side of the river. November 2010 (Jeff Vinter)
From the river bridge into Stourpaine, the old railway passes through a delightful avenue of oak trees, seen to good effect in this picture looking north west towards Gains Cross. 7th November 2010 (Jeff Vinter)
Lydford, where the GWR and LSWR lines from Plymouth diverged, the former to Launceston and the latter to Okehampton and, ultimately, Waterloo. The concrete units which form the visible platform edge reveal the Southern Railway’s stewardship of this station from 1923 onwards, since the SR was a large scale user of pre-fabricated concrete and had factories producing this material at both Exmouth Junction in Exeter and Ashford in Kent. Spring 2010. (Chris Bedford)
Uncollected corbels for London Bridge still litter parts of the quarry site. Brett Sutherland on geograph gives a nice account of these: ‘There are various explanations as to why these beautifully cut stones remained behind. They may have been cut too short, have been condemned due to defects in the stone or may have been “wastage” – there are 650 corbels incorporated in the bridge! Whatever the reason, they bear testament to the skill of the stonemasons here. Spring 2010. (Chris Bedford)
After passing Swelltor Quarry, the branch runs on an embankment around the western slopes of King’s Tor, which can be seen through the arch. This bridge was almost certainly constructed to allow water draining off of the tor to pass safely under the line. Spring 2010. (Chris Bedford)
The Princetown trackbed in the vicinity of Foggintor Quarry, which (not to be outdone by its neighbour at Swelltor) supplied the granite sections of Nelson’s Column.Spring 2010 (Chris Bedford)
Cyclists head south through Lyncombe Vale towards Combe Down Tunnel. September 2011 (Jeff Vinter)
Tucking Mill Viaduct is situated between Combe Down Tunnel and Midford. 2011 (Jeff Vinter)
Little Tunnel’ or bridge no. 17 was situated just north of Midford Station. 2011 (Jeff Vinter)
Midford station, looking north. Steps still lead up off the platform as a couple of cyclists head south towards Midford Viaduct, half way across which the double track section to Templecombe commenced. 2011 (Jeff Vinter)
Midsomer Norton Station in 2011. A decade ago, few would have hoped to see this station restored to such condition. Even the signalman’s greenhouse and garden have been restored. (Jeff Vinter)
The Gartell Light Railway, based at Yenston (just south of Templecombe) has brought live steam back to about a mile of the S&D. Currently, the line runs from Common Lane (just off the S&D) to Park Lane via Pinesway Junction. 2011 (Jeff Vinter)
The new terminus station straddles a bridge over a small stream. 2011 (Jeff Vinter)
Shillingstone’s replacement signal box. 2011 (Jeff Vinter)
North Dorset Trailway runs along the southbound platform at the station – but it all brings business to the nascent railway. 2011 (Jeff Vinter)
The frontage of Bath Green Park shows that the Midland Railway was not messing about when it arrived in this famous Georgian city. Classical flourishes such as the stone columns, gabled windows and ballustrades all heaped on the style. 2011 (Jeff Vinter)
Bath Green Park Station train shed 2011 (Jeff Vinter)
Until the 1960s, Launceston was well served by rail, being the northern terminus of a GWR branch line from Plymouth, and a stop on the LSWR’s route from Waterloo to Padstow. Now it is totally detached from the national rail network. The GWR weighbridge building, now ‘Newport Friars’, is a reminder of the past. 2011 (Jeff Vinter)
Grenofen Tunnel, Devon, shortly after it had been opened by Devon County Council as part of the new Drake’s Trail, which links Tavistock with Plymouth, largely via the former GWR branch line from Launceston. The tunnel is a little wet and has low level lighting near to ground level. 2012 (Bob Spalding)
The incline at Portreath in Cornwall was built by the Hayle Railway in 1838 but ended up serving the Great Western, which operated the old HR’s line until 1936 as its goods-only branch from near Carn Brea. The course of the branch can be walked from near the top of the incline to Illogan. 2012 (Jeff Vinter)
A row of stone sleepers can still be seen near Wheal Plenty in the trackbed of the former Portreath Tramroad, which opened in 1812 to link the copper mines around Scorrier and St. Day with the harbour at Portreath 2012 (Jeff Vinter)
The relics of the Pentewan Sand & Block Works, founded in 1907, which inherited a number of wagons from the Pentewan Railway (which closed in 1918). This company also took to manufacturing concrete blocks, which were used in the construction of a number of houses in the area, especially in and around St. Austell 2012 (Jeff Vinter)
After passing Swelltor Quarry, the branch runs on an embankment around the western slopes of King’s Tor, which can be seen through the arch. 2010 (Chris Bedford)
The Rodwell Trail can be followed as far as the south end of Wyke Regis, after which the trackbed is owned by the Crown Estates as it crosses the west end of Chesil Beach; public access is permitted here as well. On arrival in Portland, railway ramblers are advised to head for Castletown, where the first of two inclines on the former Merchants Railway can be followed up to the plateau on the top of the island. Many stone sleepers remain in place here, while the views can be impressive. 2012 (Jeff Vinter)
The second, upper incline on the Merchants Railway is short but more impressive than the first thanks to the three fine stone bridges which cross the trackbed, seen here on the left. Portland is laced with old tramways. 2012 (Jeff Vinter)
Devonshire Tunnel, finally revealed after decades of being buried beneath infill which the project contractors had to remove before they could restore the portal. 2013 (Jeff Vinter)
The view from atop the portal of Combe Down Tunnel looking north into Lyncombe Vale and the city of Bath beyond. Lyncombe Vale was a location much favoured by the Somerset & Dorset Railway’s famous photographer, Ivo Peters 2013 (Jeff Vinter)
The interior of Combe Down Tunnel looking south. At over a mile in length, this is currently the longest tunnel on the National Cycle Network. A lot of the tunnel, especially towards the south end, is unlined 2013 (Jeff Vinter)
A view of the replacement bridge installed over Monksdale Road. This is the smaller of the two new bridges in suburban Bath. The original railway bridge spanned a narrow gap in the railway embankment. 2013 (Jeff Vinter)
West Bay Station which was once the terminus of the branch line from Maiden Newton on the still operational line from Dorchester to Castle Cary. The trackbed from here to the south end of Bridport is now a multi use trail. 2011 (Mike Rutter)
This is the platform side of Loddiswell Station on the Kingsbridge Branch seen from the public road. 2013 (Phil Mullarkey)
This is the next bridge down the line – and just in Dorset the footpath leading to it starts from Ashford Road, in Ashford village. 2014 (Tim Chant)
A general view of the delightful cottage style station at Lynton in North Devon, the property is now a private home. 2014 (Jeff Vinter)
On station open days, it is possible to walk a section of the trackbed north of Chelfham which the railway has purchased and cleared. 2014 (Jeff Vinter)
A view of Chelfham Viaduct from the lower part of the station master’s garden. The viaduct takes the line over the Stoke Rivers Valley and was built to the design of L&BR architect FW Chanter using over 250,000 Marland bricks. 2014 (Jeff Vinter)
The mighty Snapper Halt in all its glory! Note the running-in board to the left of the tiny passenger shelter. Before the L&BR acquired this property and cleared the mass of vegetation which had engulfed it, this little building could have been mistaken for a dense thicket of vegetation. 2014 (Jeff Vinter)
The delightful little station at Bovey Tracey has was converted into the ‘Bovey Tracey Heritage Centre’, which includes some interesting exhibits from both the local branch line and the nearby Haytor Granite Tramway. 2015 (Jeff Vinter)
Just a few hundred yards north of Bovey Tracey station, the old railway crosses the River Bovey on this stone bridge. 2014 (Bob Spalding)
This fine, skewed underbridge carries the old railway above Lower Knowle Road, which here becomes the official route into the picturesque village of Lustleigh. 2015 (Jeff Vinter)
The viaduct south of Lustleigh, is situated on the east side of Mill Lane . 2015 (Jeff Vinter)
Ilminster Station in retail use as a dog salon. 2015 (Jeff Vinter)
Ilminster goods shed as a large carpet shop; the canopies on the right hand side are unusual survivors. 2015 (Jeff Vinter)
A close up of the new running-board and restored shelter at Donyatt. The scuplture of the little girl sitting on her packing case is a reminder that this area was used to receive evacuees during World War 2. 2015 (Jeff Vinter)
The train shed at Chard Central. This is the southern aspect, facing Chard Town and Chard Junction. 2015 (Jeff Vinter)
The Haytor Granite Tramway. The remains of this extraordinary tramway, which operated between 1820 and 1858, can be traced from granite quarries at Haytor on Dartmoor down to Ventiford, south east of Heathfield, a distance of 10 miles. The tramway was the brainchild of the Templer family of Teigngrace, who built it to carry the granite to wharves at Ventiford on the Stover Canal, where it was transshipped into barges and carried onwards by water transport. More of a ‘flangeway’ than a railway, the tracks were constructed from granite to a gauge of 4ft. 3in. and had an ‘L’ shaped profile, facing outwards.

The start of the long downhill run on the Haytor Granite Tramway above the village of Haytor Vale, looking east. Note the junction in the distance. It is thought that short lengths of pivoted wooden rail were used to guide the wagons across points, and a round socket to accommodate this will be found drilled into the granite at each such location. 2019 (Jeff Vinter)
As the tramway begins to lose height, it runs for about a mile just north of the B3387, which links Widecombe-in-the-Moor with Bovey Tracey. The curves can be tight (though tighter ones than this follow), and, in places, the granite rails are being covered slowly by the moorland grass. 2019 (Jeff Vinter)
A typical view of the tramway in Yarner Wood. The tramway’s course here is not a public right of way but a permissive route, by courtesy of the local landowners. Occasionally, sections may be closed when farming needs require, but diversions are signed. 2019 (Jeff Vinter)
Anticipating later railway practice, and no doubt influenced by the practice on canals (where mileposts were a legal requirement), the Haytor Granite Tramway featured mileposts which measured the distance from the quarries. This one, perched on a cutting face above the running line, marks the half-way point in Yarner Wood. (Jeff Vinter)
Between Chapple Road and Brimley Road to the west of Bovey Tracey, the tramway offers extensive views to the north, which in this photograph is to the right. Once again, granite sleepers are much in evidence. 2019 (Jeff Vinter)
This was the work of the Somerset Quarrying Company, which began working here in 1893-4 and by 1898 was operating four quarry faces with 40 men. The attraction was Vallis Vale, just outside Frome, the easternmost outcrop of hard carboniferous limestone in the Mendips, and an obvious attraction for early quarry operators. The limestone was used for a variety of purposes, but that destined for road-making was collected by a series of 2ft 3in gauge tramways, fed from the various quarries chiselled into the valley sides and ultimately along a sinuous route, delivered to a processing works at Hapsford Mill. The finished product was then railed to the Frome–Radstock Railway for despatch … In the 1930s, the railway system was changed to two foot gauge and extended to link up more quarries as far west as Murder Combe. 2016 (Jeff Vinter)
12 members stop for lunch at Gilwern Halt (Wed 13/07/22 Bob Prigg)
Clydach Station on the old LNWR Heads of the Valleys line (Wed 13/07/22 Bob Prigg)
The guy on the mobility scooter shows there should be no excuses for not ‘getting out there’ as we all get slower on our feet with age… The Ledge in Cwm Clydach on the Heads of the Valley’s line (Wed 13/07/22 Bob Prigg)
The steps leading down to Gilwern Halt (Wed 13/07/22 Bob Prigg)
Rule No.1 in the RR Policy Rule Book … Make sure which way the gradient runs when planning a walk! Gradient sign shows a relentless descent for members on the Heads of the Valleys line (Wed 13/07/22 Bob Prigg)
Govilon Station (Wed 13/07/22 Bob Prigg)
Tramroad tunnel under the Mon & Brec Canal at Llanfoist Wharf (Wed 13/07/22 Bob Prigg)