History of our line

The route of the Dartmoor Railway is part of what was once the London South Western Railway main line from London Waterloo to Plymouth and North Cornwall opened as a through route in 1876. When many of the lines in the South West were axed in the 1960s, this particular stretch of line was kept open to transport ballast from Meldon Quarry for use on all parts of the British Railways Southern Region.

Meldon Quarry and the stretch of line from Coleford Junction to the Quarry were subsequently sold to Aggregate Industries whom together with Devon County Council, Dartmoor National Park and RMS Locotec formulated the concept of the Dartmoor Railway. The concept was to create a Community Railway that would enable visitors to access and enjoy the National Park without the use of a car.

In 2008 the Dartmoor Railway was acquired by Iowa Pacific Holdings, who aim to increase freight usage of the line and re-introduce passenger services from Okehampton to Exeter.

Heritage Services have been running on the line for more than ten years, initially between Okehampton and Meldon Quarry and more recently to Sampford Courtenay on Saturdays. Occasional special events run over the whole length of the line.

Ex-LSWR Drummond T9 4-4-0 no 30717 at Okehampton in June 1954. (Photo owner/copyright unknown).

The last Down "Brighton" Sat 4 March 1967. D868 Zephyr waits time at Okehampton with the last 1012 Brighton to Plymouth 1V65, formed of 9 BR MK1 coaches including a Buffet car, in a mixture of SR Green and the then new BR Inter City Blue/Grey livery. Note the water crane still in situ. (4 March 1967 was also the date that the 0110 Waterloo to Plymouth Passenger & News, 1040 Plymouth to Brighton and 1650 Plymouth to Eastleigh ran for the last time, thus ending regular loco hauled services on the former Southern Exeter to Plymouth main line).
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 04/03/1967

On a Sunday in May 1978, the 1030 from Exeter Central, a 3 car DMU (class 119?), waiting at Okehampton before returning to Exeter; one of a series of Charter trains then run by Transport 2000.
Photographer: Tony Hill

Bow & North Tawton 150th anniversary.