News

Special bus from Hatherleigh on Sunday August 20th

13/08/2017

A minibus will leave Hatherleigh (from outside the Co-Op Shop) at 0900 on Aug 20th, to connect with the 0955 train from Okehampton stn to Exeter, and will arrive back in Hatherleigh by 1800, after connecting with the 1632 train from Exeter Central due at Okehampton at 1719.

The bus fare is £3 Adult and £2 child.

Places on the bus need to be reserved. Full details from Andrea Kimber 01837 810057.

Activity at Meldon

30/07/2017

Earlier this month the rag-and-bone man came to take away 70508, the class 411 4-CEP TSOL, now redundant after much cannibalisation. Whilst the truck was at Meldon, the opportunity was taken to turn 60673, the centre car from Thumper 1128, in preparation for possible future use.


60673 and 70508 at Meldon
Photographer: Julian Pope
Date taken: 26/07/2017



70508 about to start its final journey.
Photographer: Julian Pope
Date taken: 26/07/2017



60673, the centre car from 1128, on the Meldon turntable.
Photographer: Julian Pope
Date taken: 26/07/2017

Satisfied customer / Thumpers on Youtube

07/07/2017

We've had an email from a satisfied customer, Dave Flavell:
"Hi there, last weekend, Saturday 1/7/17 I visited the Dartmoor Railway to see & travel on 1132 (big fan of the units) & was so impressed with the welcome I received, the guard, driver & gentleman in the shop were so friendly & the cab ride from Meldon to Okehampton just put the  cherry on the cake for me perfect, the audio & video I was able to get from that really was great.
Anyway a big thanks to all at Dartmoor Railway SA, I was on Youtube looking at.... yes you guessed it Thumpers and I came across these videos of then 205032 : 1132 with Connex and NSE so I thought they maybe of interest. I couldn't find any of 1128 though.

Regards, Dave"

Well done everyone for making such a good impression on Dave. It's good to have some good news after the previous news item. The 2 videos Dave found are:
Last day of the Thumpers on the Reading - Basingstoke
Thumperfest

We'd like to add that Dave has now sent in his membership application and is keen to volunteer as TTI/Guard or Cleaner. His New Membership Pack will be going off to him on Monday and we look forward to him joining the team.

Meldon break-in

02/07/0017

Very sadly there was a break-in at Meldon Quarry on the evening/night of June 29th. Tens of thousands of pounds of damage was caused to the Polar Express stock, mainly in the form of broken glass. Nothing was taken, suggesting it was nothing more organised than mindless vandalism. If anyone has any information about the break-in, please contact the police and the Dartmoor Railway as soon as possible.

Photographer: Tiffany Arthurs
Date taken: 30/06/2017

Rail Grinder on the DR (updated 07/07/17)

01/07/2017

50008 with the grinder at Okehampton
Photographer: Dave Hunt
Date taken: 29/06/2017



Another new Network Rail railgrinder has come to the DR for a week of trials. It was brought to the railway on Thursday June 29th by class 50 50008 'Thunderer'. This particular class 50 has been expected on the DR for quite a while.

Subsequently Geoff Horner sent in a couple of pictures of the grinder in Okehampton station on the eve of its departure; seen below:

The grinder in Okehampton platform 2
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 06/07/2017



Grinder 79304 at Okehampton
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 06/07/2017

DR on Youtube

28/06/2017

For those who haven't seen it on our Facebook page, there's some enjoyable video of DR here.

Tour visit

16/06/2017

On Wednesday (14th) the railway hosted a group touring with Mike Higginbottom's Interesting Times Tours organisation. Based at Dartington Hall for the week, the 11-strong group's first activity on arrival at Okehampton was a refuelling stop at the station buffet, following which Tom Baxter gave a short talk outlining the history of the line and the main features of the station. After time to explore the station and visit the shop and museum, the group headed to Meldon, where, guided by several DRSA members, they examined the viaduct and quarry before heading off to Morwellham Quay.

Details of Interesting Times Tours' activities can be found on their website, on which a feature of particular interest is Mike's Devon Railways blog which (scroll down) contains a number of articles relevant to the Dartmoor Railway.

Tom Baxter briefing the Interesting Times Tours group at Okehampton
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 14/06/2017

Peter Flick

07/05/2017

Members will be saddened to hear that DRSA's Membership Secretary Peter Flick passed away on May 3rd. One of the founding members, Peter's contribution to DRSA affairs was immense, and we will all miss his humour and spirit.

Peter's cremation service will be on Fri 26 May at 1300 at Exeter Crematorium. There will be a thanksgiving service on Tues 30 May at 1400 in South Tawton Parish Church. The proceeds of the collection will go to the DRSA. No flowers please. Donations to DRSA can also be sent to Drew & Sons, Venton, Drewsteignton.

Polar Express traction

24/04/2017

In case you were wondering why it's so quiet, 33035, 47828 and 45060 were hauled away by 20189 and 20205 today, heading for the Severn Valley Railway via St Philip's Marsh maintenance depot in Bristol. Sadly this leaves the DR with no serviceable traction. What next?

The 2 class 20s at Trecott on their way to Okehampton to collect the PE locomotives
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 24/04/2017



The 5 locomotives at Okehampton ready to start out for Bristol
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 24/04/2017



20205 and 20189 passing Crediton with the Polar Express traction, 33035, 47828 and 45060, en route for St Philip's Marsh.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 24/04/2017



Class 20s are an unusual sight on our railway, and the convoy made an impressive spectacle passing through Crediton.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 24/04/2017

RCHS Visit

21/04/2017

On April 21st we were pleased to be visited by a party of about 60 from the Railway & Canal Historical Society. It was their AGM weekend, and they were spending a few days touring sites of interest in the south west. They arrived at Meldon slightly late having had coach problems at Torrington, but there was still sufficient time to examine the iconic viaduct. From Meldon they headed back to Okehampton for tea and cake in the buffet, and to explore the station, before returning to their weekend base in an Exeter University hall of residence.

Sadly we weren't able to offer them the train ride which would have rounded off their experience, but they seemed to be interested in what they saw, and they received a friendly welcome from the DR staff and DRSA volunteers who were on hand.

Members of the RCHS group exploring Okehampton Station.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 21/04/2017

1980s station photos

05/04/2017

Recently the railway received a letter from R.K. Bowden of Bowden Engineering of Ottery St Mary. Included with the letter were some photographic negatives, taken by Mr Bowden's father. He thinks they could have been taken in 1986, though some of the locals aren't sure this is quite correct. Whatever the exact date, they show Okehampton station in its 'wilderness' period between the cessation of passenger services in 1972, and the restoration in the late 1990s. It's fascinating to spot the changes between then and now.

Our grateful thanks to Mr Bowden for sending us the negatives (see below), and also to Peter Budd of Crediton Photography Club for scanning them for us.

[Surely this is the same Bowden Engineering which used to produce brake and suspension modifications for Austin 7s, amongst others, in the 1950s and happily still seem to be trading now?]

The goods shed, still surving albeit now as a Youth Hostel, with a siding passing behind it.
Photographer: Mr Bowden



Okehampton Station in 1986, pending better times
Photographer: Mr Bowden



Okehampton station in 1986(?) showing the unrebuilt Platform 2 buildings, sidings where the cycle hire business now operates, and window frames in the footbridge.
Photographer: Mr Bowden

The Royal Oke

18/03/2017

Over 500 passengers travelled from Okehampton to Paddington and back on the 'Royal Oke' HST special, the first service to London for 50 years. Organised by Okerail, in conjunction with Great Western Railway and Dartmoor Railway CIC, and with support from Okehampton United Charities, the purpose of the train was to demonstrate the community's interest in the reinstatement of a regular service between Okehampton and Exeter St Davids.

There was a slight hitch when the outbound train had to stop at Bow to investigate a wheelset problem, and then be replaced at Exeter St Davids. A remarkable effort by GWR saw the substitute HST arrive at Paddington only 38 minutes late. The evening journey back to Okehampton was trouble free, as was the subsequent return of the empty stock.

The train received widespread publicity on local news outlets and social media. Feedback from passengers has been 100% positive, with particular praise for the GWR crews. Central Devon MP Mel Stride, a committed supporter of the reinstatement initiative, travelled on the train, and looked forward to giving rail minister Paul Maynard "a good shake" when he met the train at Paddington.

A group of 5 DRSA members braved the cold, damp weather and a 6.30 start to marshal the car park, a bit of a squeeze made much less of a problem than it might have been thanks to the early arrival of all the passengers.

We have started a Picture Gallery of the event, and are grateful for contributions from Philip Wagstaff and John Wills. Others would be welcome. There's also some excellent video on Devon Live here.

Royal Oke special train sold out

23/02/2017

Please note that all tickets for the March 18th Okehampton to Paddington return HST special have now been sold.

Test Train

21/02/2017

21st February saw GWR run a test train to Okehampton in preparation for the HST special to London on March 18th. The unit took a staggering 150+ minutes between Crediton and Okehampton due to numerous stops to carry out measuring tasks and more gauging. On arrival a sea of orange vests swarmed around carrying out similar tasks and marking stopping points. The Class 143 unit had ‘Tenby’ as a destination blind on one end and the fictional ‘Newton Abbeywood’ on the other.  Before departure ‘Tenby’ was changed to ‘Romsey’ to give a different view for the ever present Dave the photographer.


The test train, 143617, at Okehampton, before departing for Newton Abbeywood
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 21/02/2017



The test train crew checking out Okehampton
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 21/02/2017

2017 Sulzer Weekend

06/02/2017

Another successful Sulzer Weekend took place on Feb 4th and 5th. The variable West Devon winter weather - glorious for most of Saturday, miserable on Sunday - didn't detract from a highly enjoyable event, and good numbers of visitors once again went home with a very positive impression of the Dartmoor Railway.

As ever it was a joint effort, organised and hosted by Dartmoor Railway CIC (much of the burden of which was borne by Paul Martin), with quality traction looked after by Pioneer Diesels and D05 Preservation, and a volunteer workforce from DRSA. Our grateful thanks to all.

We have a Gallery of pictures of the weekend. Our thanks to all the contributors.

Tarka Line winter promotion

13/01/2017

Introduced in October and running every day until April 17 a half day return fare of only £5 to Barnstaple is available after 0900 from Exeter stations and correspondingly less from (and between) intermediate stations (e.g. £4.10 from Crediton) on the North Devon line.

Note that on Sat and Sun 21 & 22 Jan, due to Engineering works all North Devon line trains will be replaced by a special bus service between Exeter St D and Barnstaple. 

Full details available from staffed stations, or National Rail website. 

Polar Express on BBC Spotlight

21/12/2016

Did you see the Polar Express on BBC Plymouth's Spotlight Southwest programme on Monday Dec 19th? The entire programme was presented from the North Pole, and featured interviews with some of the players, as well as several of the happy families enjoying the event. It was an excellent advert for the Polar Express.

The group of folk singers at the end of the programme had been brought together at a couple of hours notice after the booked performers had dropped out, and featured our very own Peter Ritchie. He reckoned it was a tad cold.

Unfortunately if you missed it it's now too late, as it was only available on iPlayer for 24 hours.

Renowned Devon folk singer Jim Causley (centre, with accordion) and, nearly as famous, DRSA's Peter Ritchie (DR woolly hat), performing at the North Pole
Date taken: 19/12/2016

South west station usage

08/12/2016

Figures for station usage in Devon and Cornwall have just been published. They include Okehampton and Sampford Courtenay, as well as the Tarka Line, and make interesting reading. Download a copy from here (20Kb).

Polar Express

05/12/2016

The Polar Express has been under way for a few days now, and is proving very popular and attracting lots of positive feedback. 45060 'Sherwood Forester' is on the Meldon end, with 47828 on the Crediton end. The latter is also providing train heat. 33035 is available as backup, and has completed one trouble-free trial run in front of 45060.

We're grateful to Paul Martin, Lee Edworthy, Philip Wagstaff and Alistair Gregory for the following:



47828 on the PE stock at Okehampton, with 33035 stabled in P2 as backup
Photographer: Lee Edworthy
Date taken: 25/11/2016



33035, backup Polar Express locomotive
Photographer: Lee Edworthy
Date taken: 25/11/2016



45060 on the PE stock at Okehampton
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 29/11/2016



The driving team of Graham Isom and Keith Netherton with 45060 and 33035
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 23/11/2016



Pioneer Diesels personnel with 33035
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 25/11/2016



47828 on the PE stock in Okehampton platform 3, and 33035 stabled in the new siding extension.
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 23/11/2016



47828 stabled in the new Okehampton platform 2 siding extension
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 01/01/0016



33035 and 47828 at night in Okehampton
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 23/11/2016

Closing The Gap

26/11/2016

The Peninsula Rail Task Force has published its report 'Closing The Gap', and its associated appendix. They can be downloaded from here.

Back on the Southern - new arrivals at Okehampton

08/11/2016

On Sunday Nov 6th, DRSA took delivery of 4 original LSWR/SR platform benches purchased from the West Somerset Railway. These seats, before going to the WSR in the early 1980s, were in use on the Barnstaple Junction to Ilfracombe line which closed in October 1970. On the WSR they had seen service at Dunster and Stogumber, but have now been replaced by more appropriate GWR seats.

Currently in the dry under the Okehampton platform 2 awning, our new seats will in due course be painted in Southern green by the DSRA Station Maintenance Team. They will probably displace one of our existing ones for re-deployment at Sampford Courtenay.

The DRSA team (from left) John Caesar, Tom Baxter, Tony Hill and Jon Kelsey unloading one of the new benches. Photo copyright Robin White of the West Somerset Railway Asssociation.

Den Brook crossing

Den Brook wind farm is now operational. The crossing was lifted in late October and installed again by new contractors to remedy the existing defects. A test train (47828 and Polar Express rake - see pic below) was run over it at variable speeds to bed the track down and identify any issues.

Once the gates have been refitted the speed restriction will be lifted and the crossing will be locked out.

Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 30/10/2016

Thanks from the US

12/09/2016

The other day we heard from Nathan Barnes in the USA, whose daughter Brittney was researching railways for a school project and had made much use of our links page. As a result, Nathan had some nice things to say about our website, for which we're grateful. Brittney had also discovered the useful Texas Railroad History site which we've added to the Links page.

Graham Isom 50 years service celebration thanks

10/08/2016



As a postscript to the Aug 1st celebrations of Graham Isom's 50 years of railway service, we were delighted to receive this charming card from Graham, and we pass on his thanks to all those DRSA volunteers who helped make the day a success.

Hatherleigh bus trial

05/08/2016

OkeRail has organised a trial of a community bus from Hatherleigh to Okehampton on Sunday August 14th. It will connect with the 0955 and 1155 trains to Exeter, and the 1430 and 1632 return departures from Exeter Central which arrive at Okehampton at 1517 and 1719 respectively. The bus will leave Hatherleigh market bus stop at 0925 and 1125 and will cost £2.50 return for adults and £1.50 for children. Bus passes won't be accepted, and parents need to state their child's age due to booster seat requirements.

If there is sufficient interest then there is a possibility that this could become a regular service next summer.

As places are limited, anyone interested must contact Richard Proctor (tel: 01837 811240 or email: richard_proct8@hotmail.com) beforehand. Prospective passengers need to state which train they wish to catch to ensure the bus has enough seats available.

Station Cat

28/08/2016

For those on tenterhooks for the outcome of the station cat naming competition, the winner was 'Percy'.

He has his own Facebook page, which can be found by searching Percy Okehampton station cat.

Graham Isom - 50 years of railway service

02/08/2016

On August 1st 2016 a special train was formed at Meldon to celebrate Graham Isom’s 50 years of working/volunteering on the railway. A commemorative headboard was produced and carried on 47828, which hauled Lab 11, 61743 and 70273 on its operational debut. The train conveyed friends and family and work colleagues (ex and current) down to Okehampton to surprise Graham who thought he was running a training course. The train made several trips to Sampford Courtenay and one to the Dartmoor Railway boundary. An excellent spread of food was produced at Okehampton station enjoyed by all, before Graham made a speech and cut the cake. Some people travelled great distances to attend and the vent was a great success. Thanks to all those who attended and/or helped in the organisation of it all and to everyone for keeping it secret! Full report in the autumn issue of the Pony Magazine.

Graham cutting his cake. Note the typical Okehampton sumptuous spread.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 01/08/2016



The commemorative headboard
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 01/08/2016



The back of the commemorative headboard, signed by those present
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 01/08/2016



The man himself
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 01/08/2016

Carriage News

02/08/2016

Over the weekend of July 30th/31st, some variety was provided by replacing the usual air braked consist of 61743 and Lab11 on the service trains, with the vacuum braked pairing of Mk2A FK S13436 and LMS Brakevan 731411. The purpose was to enable Julian Pope's freshly restored 4CEP EMU centre car 70273 to be marshalled into the air braked rake in readiness for its debut on the Aug 1st event celebrating Graham Isom's 50 years of service on the railway, more details of which will be published shortly. Julian's coach, and the entire rake in fact, looked stunning, a credit to Julian and the DRSA C&W team.

The new air braked set in the yard at Meldon with newly overhauled and painted 70273 in between driving trailer 61743 and Lab11.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 31/07/2016



Vacuum braked rake with D4167/08937 hauling S13436 Mk2A FK and ex LMS GBV 731411 on the 11.00 departure from Meldon Viaduct for Okehampton.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 31/07/2016



D4167 and the vacuum braked rake of Mk2A FK S13436 and LMS brakevan 731411 at Okehampton
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 31/07/2016

Hanging Baskets

23/07/2016

Bow Garden and Aquatic Centre recently delivered this year's hanging baskets for Okehampton Station, and they were hung today, considerably brightening the station. In the absence of Sue Baxter we can't provide a great deal of botanical detail, but there are some, er, white flowers and red flowers, amongst others.

Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 23/07/2016

Okehampton Platform 2 Siding Extension

12/07/2016

The work on constructing the extended siding beyond the present buffer stops at the east end of platform 2 at Okehampton is due to start on Wednesday 13th July with a team tackling the initial clearance of the vegetation from the trackbed. The team will be meeting at Okehampton Station at 10.00 and any DRSA member who wishes to lend a hand will be welcome. The work is being led by the DR Operations Manager Alistair Gregory. Please come with overalls or other suitable work clothing, stout or safety boots and strong gardening type gloves. As the site is fenced off from the running line there is no need for volunteers to have any Track Safety certification or hi-vis wear.

The project now has its own website page here.

Exeter & Teign Valley Railway visit

03/07/2016

Following the recent visit by a group of DRSA members to the fascinating E&TVR (reported on the Miscellany page), proprietor Colin Burges has posted his own report on our visit on the E&TVR site. It can be seen here, and, like all Mr Burges's writing, is well worth a read. His remark "Not one chain of closed line has yet been reopened in the West Country" may be a statement of the obvious but it keeps the feet on the ground (unless of course you're standing on a pile of all the reports which have been written on the subject).

Annual General Meeting

23/05/2016

The 2016 DRSA Annual General Meeting took place on Saturday May 21st, at the Ockment Centre, Okehampton. After a review of the previous year, some minor amendments to the Constitution were agreed, and the committee re-elected.

Thus the 2016/7 committee is: Reverend Philip Wagstaff (chairman), Christine Horner (treasurer), Jon Kelsey (secretary), Peter Flick (membership secretary), Geoffrey Horner (volunteer coordinator), Peter Ritchie, Sue Baxter, Dave Clegg and Tony Hill. At the next committee meeting a vice-chairman should be appointed.

Only 20 members attended, which was hugely disappointing, not just because of the AGM, but also because of the excellent presentation afterwards by local railway historian Amyas Crump. 'Around the Southern in North Devon' was a trip around the various SR lines in our region, presented in the form of a slideshow, and interesting not just for the content but also Amyas's use of contemporary (in some cases restored and digitally enhanced) traditional slides.

Peninsula Rail Task Force 20 year plan draft

18/05/2016

The Peninsula Rail Task Force is consulting on the first draft of the 20-year plan for the South West rail network. Feedback is invited, but responses must be received by May 27th, so that the report can be submitted to government on July 7th. The plan is available to download from this page, along with the workstream summary report.

2016 Sunday Rover starts

17/05/2016

The Devon County Council funded, Great Western Railway operated Exeter to Okehampton Sunday Rover service recommenced for 2016 on May 15th. Railway and local government dignitaries attended inauguration ceremonies with the first train at both Exeter and Okehampton. (Though unfortunately, no-one had arranged the latter with the Dartmoor Railway). The first up train of the day squeezed 108 passengers into a single carriage, and there were reports of disgruntled would-be passengers reverting to their cars. Things calmed down after this as, presumably, passengers spread out their return trips, and in any event an extra unit was added for the afternoon trains.

Timetable details are on the Sunday Rover page.

Tom Baxter was there with his camera:

Crowds queueing to embark on 153377 for the first up train of the day.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 15/05/2016



Crowds queueing to embark on 153377 for the first up train of the day.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 15/05/2016



GWR's smart new Sunday Rover vinyls on 153377
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 15/05/2016



Later in the day the train was strengthened with a second unit, 153373
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 15/05/2016

Western Challenger Railtour

09/05/2016

The Western Challenger railtour arriving at Okehampton
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 07/05/2016



May 7th saw the visit of Pathfinder Railtours' Western Challenger excursion. In 1966 D1010 Western Campaigner took 5 hour 15 minutes to reach Penzance, and exactly 50 years later the Challenger tour was planned to run non-stop to Plymouth in commemoration. Unfortunately it didn't quite achieve this, having been brought to a stand on the outskirts of Plymouth, but the passengers nevertheless enjoyed an excellent run behind an iconic locomotive.

After Plymouth it visited the Dartmoor Railway before returning to Waterloo via the LSWR main line. It spent about two and a quarter hours on the DR, some of which was spent at Meldon running round. Back at Okehampton, what is by now a well oiled team leapt into action and watered the stock, refuelled the locomotive, marshalled the crowds and removed the phenomenal amount of rubbish railtour passengers produce, whilst our visitors enjoyed the buffet, museum and shop. Some took a shuttle bus into Okehampton.

The railtour locomotive was D1015 Western Champion, although it masqueraded as D1010 Western Campaigner on one side and D1058 Western Nobleman on the other. The occasion was enhanced by DR's new arrival class 47 47828 which was stabled, idling, near the old Meldon compressor house. In full public view in an area much tidier than hitherto, it attracted a lot of attention. With D4167 operating the regular shuttle in the morning, those of us at Meldon for the day saw an unprecedented 3 different trains in one day.

It was an excellent day with good crowds visiting the railway, decent weather, plenty of interest and generally a good 'buzz'. Once again, railtour visitors left with a very positive impression of the Dartmoor Railway. These things don't just happen by chance, and we would like to express our gratitude to all the DR staff, DRSA volunteers and the D05 Preservation crew who made the day such a success. When's the next one?

Some photos have been posted in the Railtour Gallery. Our grateful thanks to the contributors, Alan Deane, Rob Dark,Rev Philip Wagstaff and Tom Baxter.

47828 arrives

06/05/2016

At last 47828 is on the railway, arriving yesterday behind 31452. It was covered in grime from its recent Railhead Treatment Train duties, except where the DRS vinyls had been removed.

Today it was dragged to Okehampton by D4167 and then cleaned on one side and put on charge. After lengthy tests it was started up for the 1st time since late 2015 with no problem. It then moved over to Platform 3 for more cleaning. At the end of the day it ran light engine to the DR boundary for a test run, and had no problems.

Alistair Gregory and Paul Martin sent in the following photos of the day's activity. Alistair wishes to thank everyone who helped today.

There is also some coverage of its journey to the DR on the excellent Cornwall Railway Society website.

Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 05/05/2016



Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 05/05/2016



Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 06/05/2016



Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 06/05/2016



Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 06/05/2016



Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 06/05/2016



Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 06/05/2016

New Bow station sign

18/04/2016

The station maintenance team's 'homeworker', Simon Jeffery, has rebuilt one of the Bow station running in boards, complete with newly cast finials.

Simon at work on the new sign.
Photographer: Dick Henrywood
Date taken: 16/04/2016



The rebuilt sign at Bow.
Photographer: Simon Jeffery
Date taken: 16/04/2016

Okehampton United Charities grant

Front row l to r: Allenton Fisher (OUC Chairman), Nigel Green. Geoff Horner, Michael Ireland (OUC & DRSA), back row l to r: John Davies, John Coxon, Alan Harris, David Clegg, Karen Percival (OUC)
Photographer: Ian Snell
Date taken: 07/04/2016



On April 7th, DRSA's Carriage and Wagon team welcomed representatives of Okehampton United Charities to the Meldon workshop, where a cheque for £950 was presented. This grant was recently awarded to DRSA to purchase equipment enabling safe access to the roofs of railway vehicles. We would like to express our gratitude to OUC for their generous financial assistance.

OkeXRail launch

18/04/2016

There will be an official launch of the OkeXRail campaign to reinstate a daily service between Exeter and Okehampton on 15th May. This will be at Exeter St David's, to coincide with the start of the 2016 Sunday Rover service departing at 0908 to Okehampton.

Sunday Rover timetable

05/04/2016

The timetable for the 2016 GWR/DCC Sunday Rover service has recently become available. We have reproduced it on our Sunday Rover page.

Meldon photos

05/04/2016

The excellent Cornwall Railway Society website has today posted several photographs of Meldon Quarry taken in 1981. They are on the site's 'Headlines - Latest Reports and Photographs' page, visible here, though as time goes on they will gradually move down the page.

2016 services start

26/03/2016

2016's programme of scheduled heritage services got under way on Good Friday in glorious sunshine. Motive power was provide by Class 08 D4167 with Lab 11 and driving trailer 61743. Our thanks to Alistair Gregory for the pictures below.

Preparations for the first scheduled train of 2016. D4167 about to propel Lab11 and 61743 from Platform 2
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 25/03/2016



Crew of the first train: (l to r) Graham Parkinson, Marian Isom, Graham Isom and Don Bent.
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 25/03/2016



Graham Isom with an afternoon train at Meldon Viaduct. We really must finish painting those wasp stripes.
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 25/03/2016



Duty manager Paul Martin and guard Don Bent with 4-CEP driving trailer 61743.
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 25/03/2016



Sunset over a successful first day.
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 25/03/2016

Changes at Meldon

26/03/2016

The picture below shows the considerable improvements made to the area around Meldon Buffet since the CCT and sleeper were moved away. The view from the grassy bank east of the buffet coach must have been transformed.

Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 25/03/2016

Big Meldon shunt

18/03/2016

Changes afoot at Meldon. In order to clear the old steam shed prior to renovation, our 1948 SR-type brakevan LDS55625 was dragged out, to be parked at the back of the C&W workshop. Then the 1961 CCT (Covered carriage truck) 94691 and Mk3a sleeper 10611 were uncoupled from the buffet for the first time in years and moved into the yard. This removes a bit of an eyesore, and paves the way for improving the environment around the buffet. Alistair Gregory took a few pictures:

Not a lot of people realise that DRSA owns this brakevan. Even less expected the wheels to go round when we tried to move it. Here's D4167 moving it from the engine shed.
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 18/03/2016



The CCT and sleeper about to be dragged away from the buffet.
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 18/03/2016



Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 18/03/2016

Railtour Visit

13/03/2016

Yesterday we were visited by UK Railtours' 'Tre, Pol and Pen' tour, rearranged to visit the DR following a problem with access to the Parkendillack branch. It was the first through train many of us had ever seen at Okehampton, running straight through to Meldon before returning to Okehampton for a 30 minute leg stretch. The train comprised 12 Mk1 coaches, topped and tailed with class 66s 66109 and 66177.

During the Okehampton stop the buffet team tried manfully to feed 500, whilst DRSA volunteers got as much water into the coach tanks as possible, cleared a trainload of rubbish, marshalled the crowds and manned the shop.

A day of waiting and anticipation ended in a short, frantic burst of chaos. As always seems to be the case, the visitors all seemed to enjoy themselves and take away a positive impression of DRSA and the railway, many expressing their gratitude for the reception they received. We made useful income from the shop sales. Our thanks to everyone who made the day such a success.

Interestingly, the train manager was very complimentary about the state of DR's track, having had a rough ride on plenty of other heritage railways.

Following our appeal for photos of the visit, we are very grateful to the anonymous contributor who provided the next 2 pics (and others which are in the Railtour Gallery) and Alistair Gregory:

66109 at Meldon while the crew changes ends.
Date taken: 12/03/2016



Pitstop at Okehampton
Date taken: 12/03/2016



During the reversal at Meldon, the tour driver and DR pilotman got a lift from one end to the other in D4167. (About 270 metres).
Photographer: Alistair Gregory
Date taken: 12/03/2016

Dartmoor Railway welcomes D05 Preservation

05/03/2016

D05 Preservation is delighted to announce that following discussions with both Dartmoor Railway CIC and the Supporters' Association, we have been offered a great home for 47828.

The facilities and opportunities offered to us by Dartmoor Railway fit in perfectly with our plans to preserve 47828 but not park it. We hope to have it in service on their line as soon as possible.

Tiffany Arthurs, General Manager of Dartmoor Railway CIC says "Following the success of our Sulzer weekend and the similar engines in use on our Polar Express trains, 47828 seems like a perfect candidate to support our operation going forward".

"This is exciting news for the Dartmoor Railway. Our Volunteers and Association members are there to support the railway and to help in any way they we can. The great turnout of our team for the Sulzer Weekend certainly confirmed our support for such exciting projects and we look forward to working with the D05 Preservation Group when 47828 arrives at the railway" said Philip Wagstaff, Chairman of the Dartmoor Railway Supporters' Association"

47828 will be moved from Longtown to Meldon depot by rail where volunteers from all parties will commence their work on preparing it for service on Dartmoor Railway for this upcoming season. D05 Preservation would like to express our gratitude to friends of the group for their support and advice, and to DRS for their professionalism and assistance during the tender process.

Group contacts:
D05 Preservation - Alistair Gregory - alistair@d05.co.uk
Dartmoor Railway CIC - Tiffany Arthurs - tarthurs@britamrail.com
Dartmoor Railway Supporters' Association - info@dartmoor-railway-sa.org

47828 at Colchester
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 23/05/2013

Railtour visiting Okehampton

27/02/2016

UK Railtours' Tre, Pol and Pen railtour, on Saturday March 12th, will now be visiting Okehampton and Meldon following problems with track geometry on the Parkendillack branch. It will run straight through to Meldon Viaduct station, where it is scheduled to arrive at 1635. It will return to Okehampton, arriving at 1655, and remaining there for 25 minutes, during which time it will need watering.

Traction is expected to be topped and tailed class 66s.

There are more details of the tour on the UK Railtours website.

2016 Sunday Rover

20/02/2016

We've just heard the excellent news that the Sunday Rover service, sponsored by Devon County Council and operated by Great Western Railway, will be running again in 2016. We'll publish more details when they become available.

Swordfish test train

07/02/2016

Polar Express locomotive Class 33 33103 'Swordfish' was pressed into service on a test train on Feb 5th. DM Paul Martin blagged a ride and took us a few photos.

33103 'Swordfish' at the Network Rail / Dartmoor Railway boundary
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 05/02/2016



33103 'Swordfish' at the Network Rail / Dartmoor Railway boundary
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 05/02/2016



33103 'Swordfish' at the Network Rail / Dartmoor Railway boundary
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 05/02/2016



33103 'Swordfish' at the Den Brook windfarm crossing
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 05/02/2016



33103 'Swordfish' at Sampford Courtenay
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 05/02/2016

Accolade for Sulzer Weekend

03/02/2016

The successful Sulzer Weekend exposed the potential of the Dartmoor Railway to a wider audience, one member of which, Rob Wosley, felt moved to respond with detailed, positive, feedback to DR's General Manager Tiffany Arthurs. Rob copied his email to DRSA's Volunteer Coordinator, Geoff Horner, who gave the volunteers a much needed morale boost by circulating it to them. Much of it so resonates with the views of many DRSA members that we reproduce it here in full, with Rob's permission:

"Dear Tiffany,

I wanted to give you some feedback regarding the recent Sulzer Weekend at Okehampton, having spoken to Alistair Gregory during the event.

As an ex-railwayman and an enthusiast active in preservation with diesel groups I have to say that the weekend was probably one of the highlights of the diesel gala calendar for 2016, and that’s before anybody else has done anything. What makes me so confident in that statement? A combination of factors made the event a success;

1.The line itself, (which offers good running speeds and very few station stops),

2.The attitude of the railway staff and volunteers, which was very positive and professional throughout,

3.The ticket price, which was comparable to other events locally,

4.The traction, which had local connections from BR days and a strong following across the country, which drew enthusiasts in,

5.The rolling stock, which was in good condition considering it had just done a full season of Polar Express,

6.The catering, which was varied and reasonably priced,

7.Non-enthusiast passengers also attended, suggesting the line is popular all year round.

I know that such events cost a lot of money to put on and that you are constrained by the infrastructure at both ends of the line, which means two train running isn’t possible, and that top and tail operation is your only option, unless you are able to provide a passing loop at Okehampton – I guess NR would have to be approached about that and the cost may be prohibitive.

I know one of the line’s volunteers (Graham Parkinson) through his work at our local MacMillan centre, and have often said to him that a running day or weekend once Polar Express finished would draw revenue during a quiet period. When 45060 was announced as travelling to the line by its owner, Mike Jacobs (Pioneer Diesel Group), who I’ve been an acquaintance of for over thirty years, I contacted other Class 45 enthusiasts via Facebook groups and tried to whip up some interest. I wasn’t disappointed as I was one of a group of probably 58 people who made the journey solely for the Class 45, just from that FB contact. Had the 45 been allocated work all weekend at the Meldon end of the train, most of the people in my group would have stayed for the weekend and a good number more would have travelled down for the Sunday, probably 15-20, who couldn’t be there on Saturday. I know that a good number of Class 33 enthusiasts travelled too, and there’s cross-over between the two ‘factions’. The Class 47 fraternity were also in attendance, although they were obviously disappointed on the Saturday.

The idea that this could become an annual event has caused some excitement on FB/internet forums, as the Westcountry is in need of something for diesel enthusiasts during the winter months. In the last few years South Devon Railway have started running an event in early November using smaller diesels which has become very popular, but nothing else happens until probably April or May. Very few lines in the country run any diesels during January-March, with the obvious exception of your sister event at Weardale, and the line at Bo’ness in Scotland. The opportunities are there to attract people to the line and get repeat business.

Could I make a suggestion based on the feedback from some of my friends who travelled? With locos being used from Nemesis at Burton-on-Trent, would it be feasible to approach them about the use of their loco 45 112 for the 2016 Polar Express season and a potential repeat of the Sulzer Weekend next year? This machine would be a very big draw once again, and was a serious topic of conversation at the Sulzer Weekend. It should be capable of providing train heat to the stock, which makes it attractive operationally, and the use of another Class 45 and Class 33 (whether from Pioneer Diesel Group or another source) would guarantee you similar loadings to this year’s event. Obviously, other locomotives are available, and the opportunity to run an English Electric event with classes 31, 37 and 50 in the future could be a possibility, and would also guarantee very good numbers. I can’t say whether any would be available for the Polar Express season as I have no involvement with any of their owning groups.

Once again, huge thanks to everyone for a very successful event which was very warmly received. Well done to you all, if it happens again I will be back and I will bring people!

Kind regards,

Rob Wosley"

Sulzer Weekend

25/01/2016

Blessed with fine, dry weather most of the time, the Sulzer Weekend exceeded all expectations, and has attracted much praise for the railway, DRCIC and DRSA.

A small problem with 47701 on the Saturday was sorted on Sunday morning with the help of some of the visiting engineers, while 33103 and 45060 ran faultlessly. The latter also sounded fantastic, and its mechanical condition is a real tribute to its owners and operators, Pioneer Diesels.

An excellent turnout of DRSA volunteers and DR staff ensured that everything went smoothly, and very special thanks are due to organiser Paul Martin.

The event opened the eyes of many of the visitors to the potential of the Dartmoor Railway. Let's hope we can build on this. We look forward to a repeat event in 2017, and better things in the meantime.

We are starting to put together a Gallery of pictures of the weekend, and would be grateful for more contributions as most of the DRSA regulars were too busy to take pictures. There are also some great pictures and video in the Visitor Posts section of our Facebook page.

Effect of rising sea level on transport

25/01/2016

A very interesting (and topical) academic paper has just been published on the Science Direct website. Its title is 'Sea-level rise impacts on transport infrastructure: The notorious case of the coastal railway line at Dawlish, England'. It can be view on the SD website here.

Western Challenger Railtour to visit Okehampton

Pathfinder Tours' Western Challenger railtour is schedule to visit Okehampton on May 7th. We'll post more information on the events list as it emerges. We hope we can have a good turnout from DRSA volunteers on the day to ensure the visit is a success. Details of the railtour on Pathfinder's website.

Sulzer weekend update

16/12/2015

Plans for the Dartmoor Railway CIC's Sulzer Weekend (Jan 23rd/24th) are starting to take shape. The idea is to run three trips per day; a trip comprising Okehampton - Meldon - Okehampton - Network Rail/DR boundary - Okehampton. There will be a 15 minute break at Meldon, which will give time to have a quick look at the viaduct, and another 10 minutes for the intermediate Okehampton stop. This gives over 90 miles of running per day. Traction is still to be decided, but probably 45060 and 33103.

Ticket prices are also still to be decided, but for simplicity there will probably be just a single round trip ticket or a day rover.

All the above is provisional. We will confirm final details as soon as possible.

26/12/15 Note - more details have subsequently been published on the Special Events page.

Sulzer weekend

11/12/2015

DR Duty Manager Paul Martin has informed us of exciting plans to hold a Sulzer weekend on January 23rd and 24th. The plan is to use 4 of the coaching stock from the Polar Express, with 'The Rocket' supplying electricity. Motive power will be the (Sulzer powered) 33103 'Swordfish' and 45060 'Sherwood Forester'. It is hoped to use the full 15 mile length of the line between Coleford Junction and Meldon.

At the moment the plans are provisional. Please put the date in your diary but keep checking this website and our Facebook page for updates. We will publish more details as soon as they become available.

26/12/15 Note - more details have subsequently been published on the Special Events page.

Departure of 1118

01/12/2015

Class 205 unit 1118 left Meldon today by road, heading for the Williton workshop on the West Somerset Railway, where the paintwork damage incurred on its delivery journey will be rectified. It won't be returning to the Dartmoor Railway.

Photographer: Peter Chapman
Date taken: 01/12/2015



Photographer: Peter Chapman
Date taken: 01/12/2015



Photographer: Peter Chapman
Date taken: 01/12/2015



Photographer: Peter Chapman
Date taken: 01/12/2015



Photographer: Peter Chapman
Date taken: 01/12/2015

Railfuture Meeting

Several DRSA members were amongst the local politicians and members of railway stakeholder and interest groups who attended a packed Railfuture meeting at the Boniface Centre in Crediton on Nov 28th. The meeting had a special emphasis on restoring a daily Exeter to Okehampton service, and the audience heard 4 interesting, illuminating and highly professional presentations.

So much information was imparted during the afternoon that it wasn't practical to reduce it to a concise news report; instead a detailed report can be found here, with apologies for its unavoidable density. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of DRSA (but they could be!).

More Polar Express traction

Our Acting Chairman has been out and about with his camera again, watching the final preparations for the 2015 Polar Express season.

33103 leading a PE trial run at Okehampton
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 26/11/2015



PE at Okehampton at night
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 28/11/2015



45060 and 47701 on the PE stock at Okehampton
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 29/11/2015

2015 Polar Express traction

15/11/2015

The motive power for the 2015 Polar Express arrived on the evening of November 14th, along with a couple of extra coaches. 45060 'Sherwood Forester', 47701 'Waverley' formerly of this parish and 33103 'Swordfish' were delivered by the ubiquitous 31601 'Devon Diesel Society'. The acting chairman was out with his camera the following day.

Class 45 45060 'Sherwood Forester' at Okehampton
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 15/11/2015



47701 'Waverley' and 33103 'Swordfish' at Okehampton
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 15/11/2015

Health and Safety course

10/11/2015

10 DRSA volunteers got up at the crack of dawn on Oct 24th to attend a Health & Safety course at Okehampton Station. The trainer was Ian Hughes of Green Dragon, a specialist railway H&S company which has worked with a number of heritage railways. Ian made it about as interesting as it's possible to make an H&S course and everyone seemed to enjoy it and get plenty from it.

Shortly afterwards we learnt that BARS is no longer using Green Dragon's services, preferring to rely on in-house safety expertise.

DRSA's 10 safest volunteers.
Photographer: Ian Hughes
Date taken: 24/10/2015

Okehampton model railway

08/11/2015

We were delighted to hear from Bletchley based DRSA member Russell Burridge who recently wrote to the Membership Secretary with generous praise for the latest edition of the Pony magazine. Russell, a member of the (Princes) Risborough & District Model Railway Club in Buckinghamshire, described how they continue to progress their 'almost to scale length' O-gauge recreation of Okehampton, dubbed 'O'kehampton for obvious reasons.

Russell has promised to provide a Pony write-up when the layout is finished in about 18 months from now and about to appear on the exhibition circuit. In the meantime he has sent in a few pictures showing progress (below). We wish Russell and his colleagues every success with their project, and look forward to seeing the finished layout.

Photographer: Russell Burridge



Photographer: Russell Burridge



Photographer: Russell Burridge

Bow and North Tawton 150th

04/11/2015

The railway opened to Bow and North Tawton on November 1st 1865, and services on Nov 1st this year commemorated the anniversary. For a long time it looked as if we weren't going to be able to run anything. First 1118 picked up a wheel flat problem and had to be hurried to Bristol and back for wheel turning. Then the Den Brook wind farm crossing work looked as if it was going to clash, leaving us unable to run to Bow. Even with these obstacles overcome, track conditions on the day made adhesion very difficult.

We ran three round trips. The original intention was to run to the Network Rail boundary at Coleford Junction, but this was inadvisable because of the slippery track, and eventually we ran to Bridge 583 at Nymet Tracy, where the slight downhill gradient assisted the restart. Trains stopped at Bow on the return journey, and passengers were welcomed by the station's owners.

Numbers were a little disappointing, reflecting the short notice available in which to promote the event, but those who attended were full of praise, and it was an enjoyable end to the season. One of the passengers on the last train of the day was a lady who, as a 10 year old girl, had travelled on the last passenger train on the line in 1972.

Our thanks to all the volunteers who made it a success, especially driver and 1118 owner Nigel Remmington. There is a little more information about the historical background of the anniversary here.

Passengers being greeted at Bow Station
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 01/11/2015



The Thumper crew at Bow.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 01/11/2015



Class 205 Thumper 1118 on arrival at Okehampton at the end of the Bow & North Tawton sesquicentennial festivities. 1132, currently out of service, is alongside in Platform 2.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 01/11/2015



1118 getting under way very carefully at Bridge 583 (Nymet Tracey) with the last train of the day.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 01/11/2015

Thumpers return

26/10/2015

Thumpers 1132 and 1118 returned to Okehampton today, having been to St Philips Marsh for tyre turning. This is excellent news, as it means 1118 can run the regular service trains on Sat Oct 31st, and the Bow / North Tawton 150th commemorative services on November 1st. Philip Wagstaff always just happens to be around when there is an unusual movement at Okehampton, and took us a couple of photographs.

1132 and 1118 on their return from wheel turning.
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 26/10/2015



1132 and 1118 at Okehampton on their return from wheel turning.
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 26/10/2015

Thumpers off to Bristol

19/10/2015

Thumper units 1118 and 1132 departed the railway today for tyre turning at St Philip's Marsh depot, Bristol. They were collected by DCR class 31 31601 'Devon Diesel Society'. It is hoped they will be returned on October 30th. Philip Wagstaff took the following pictures.

31601 arriving at Okehampton to collect the 2 Thumper units.
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 19/10/2015



31601 arriving back at Okehampton from Meldon with the 2 Thumpers in tow.
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 19/10/2015



31601 ready to depart Okehampton
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 19/10/2015



1118 on the back of the train.
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 19/10/2015

South Devon Railway visit

17/10/2015

We were delighted to welcome a party from the South Devon Railway today. In the absence of a regular train service from Buckfastleigh to Okehampton they were travelling by Routemaster bus. With 1118 sidelined with a wheel flat problem, and even Lab 11 temporarily out of service, they explored the railway in our latest variant on The Titfield Thunderbolt theme. A good time seemed to be had by all, and it was nice to see the FK full.

LMS brake van 731411, FK 13436 and class 08 D4167. High time we finished repainting the wasp stripes.
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 17/10/2015



The South Devon Railway's rather nice Routemaster bus at Okehampton.
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 17/10/2015

Mary Trant

13/10/2015

Sadly Sunday September 13th was Mary Trant's last day as manageress of Okehampton Station Buffet. She had been doing the job since August 2008, as well as an earlier stint in the ECT days, and had worked hard to build up the buffet's excellent reputation. Mary will be sorely missed by customers and volunteers alike. We wish her every success with her next venture, and hope she keeps in touch with DRSA.


At the barbecue held to say goodbye to Mary Trant on her penultimate day.
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 12/09/2015



Mary Trant, still hard at work on her last day.
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 13/09/2015

Peninsular Rail Task Force report

14/10/2015

The Peninsular Rail Task Force has published its interim report. It can be downloaded via this link but brace yourself - it's a tad heavy going.

Skidpan training

11/10/2015

First Great Western have been carrying out skidpan training recently at Okehampton, as seen in Philip Wagstaff's photo below.

First Great Western Pacer 143617 taking part in skidpan training.
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 06/10/2015

New Bow running in boards

01/10/2015

The Station Maintenance Team's secret weapon, Simon Jeffery, has built new running in boards for Bow station. He installed them on Sept 26th, in advance of the 150th anniversary of the railway reaching Bow and North Tawton which occurs on Nov 1st. Our thanks to Melanie Henrywood for the following pictures.

Simon at work on the Bow running in board
Photographer: Melanie Henrywood
Date taken: 26/09/2015



Looking pleased with the finished product
Photographer: Melanie Henrywood
Date taken: 26/09/2015



1118 arriving at Bow with the 1025 from Meldon Viaduct
Photographer: Melanie Henrywood
Date taken: 26/09/2015

Accolade for Jazz train

03/09/2015

Last Saturday's Jazz evening was highly successful, with about 70 guests. Our thanks are due to Mary Trant, Kay Mills, Andy Turner and all the other DRSA volunteers who assisted.

Sally and Neil Sellick emailed afterwards to say: "Thank you so much for such a superb evening. We enjoyed every aspect of the event and wish to acknowledge how hard the volunteers and all involved worked to make it so memorable."

Sally and Neil were also kind enough to send in the following pictures:

Ealy in the evening at Meldon
Photographer: Sally & Neil Sellick
Date taken: 29/08/2015



At Okehampton Station
Photographer: Sally & Neil Sellick
Date taken: 29/08/2015



Night sky at Bow
Photographer: Sally & Neil Sellick
Date taken: 29/08/2015



At Bow Station
Photographer: Sally & Neil Sellick
Date taken: 29/08/2015



DRSA Acting Chairman Philip Wagstaff was also on hand with his camera, and sent us the following:

1118 at Sampford Courtenay
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 29/08/2015



The band at Sampford Courtenay
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 29/08/2015



1118 at Bow
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 29/08/2015

Museum Reopening ceremony

15/08/2015

The station museum was formally reopened as the Arthur Westlake Museum at a ceremony on Saturday August 15th. The highly enjoyable event was an opportunity to bring together former local railwaymen, community representatives and DRSA volunteers. It reinforced yet again how much the Okehampton community values its railway.

The event was the brainchild of Museum Adminstrator John Caesar, and was planned and executed by a group of DRSA volunteers too numerous to mention, to all of whom we extend our gratitude. Our grateful thanks are also due to Granite Line Ltd for providing a free return trip to Meldon for the guests, to Mary Trant for the tremendous cakes, and to the BARS crew who pulled out all the stops to ensure Lab 11 was back at Okehampton in time for the event.

A full report is published here.

Former local railwaymen (l to r) Richard Westlake, Gerald Smallacombe, Les Glidden, Terry Midgley and Leonard Phare
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 15/08/2015

Model Railway Exhibition

02/08/2015

The annual 'N' gauge model railway exhibition took place today, including a hand crafted tin mine model. Exhibitors came from as far away as Falmouth. Sadly the model shop is no longer in existence to complement the exhibition. Paul Martin took a couple of pictures.

'N' gauge model railway exhibition on the platform at Okehampton
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 02/08/2015



Former DRSA model railway volunteer Stan Agar explains things to enthusiastic youngsters
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 02/08/2015

CPRE report

16/07/2015

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) recently commissioned Greengauge 21 to examine the wider impacts of reopening the Plymouth - Tavistock – Okehampton – Exeter railway, as a second main line for Devon and Cornwall. Their report considers the local economic and social impacts of doing so, and is very interesting reading. It can be downloaded from the link below.

More information: http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/transport/rail/item/3986-rural-reconnections

New General Manager

04/07/2015

BARS Executive Vice President Howard William Clark III has announced the appointment of Tiffany Arthurs as General Manager of Dartmoor Railway CIC, with immediate effect.

New Meldon running in board

04/07/2015

Meldon has finally got its new running in board, after several months under construction, and a long day to put it up by the Station Maintenance team.

Sue Baxter, the Dartmoor Railway's newest guard, stands alongside the new Meldon running in board.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 05/07/2015



New running in board at Meldon, constructed and erected by the Station Maintenance Team.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 04/07/2015

Heart of Devon Festival

20/06/2015

On Saturday Jan 20th, Geoff Horner ran the DRSA stand at the Heart of Devon event in Bow, raising £23.20 from the sale of books and cards and receiving several enquiries from possible new members. There was some interest in flyers for the forthcoming special events and a lot of support expressed for the reopening of the line as the Dawlish diversionary route. Worrying was the number of people who did not know that the railway was running, even amongst those from Okehampton, and despite DRSA/GLL having an advert in the Crediton and Okehampton papers every week since this year's services started.

Summer evening events

17/06/2015

GLL Publicity Director Roger Webster has organised an excellent programme of summer evening events, full details of which are on the Special Events page. Whether you're on holiday in the area or a regular DR volunteer, come along and enjoy the events, the railway, the weather and convivial company.

1118 enters service

13/06/2015

1118 entered service today, running a full timetable with no problems, not that any were anticipated. It looked terrific, and sounded very crisp. Come and have a ride!

1118 leaving Okehampton with the last train of the day for Meldon
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 13/06/2015

1118 trials

09/06/2015

Recently arrived Class 205 Thumper DEMU 1118 was on trial on the weekend of June 6th/7th. By the Sunday it had passed all trials and operated the scheduled services. It will be entering service formally on Saturday June 13th. For details of timetables and fares see our services page.

On the Saturday Tom Baxter and Geoff Brookes 'just happened' to need a ride to Meldon to do some 'work', and Tom took us a few pictures.

1118 at Meldon during a trial run.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 06/06/2015



Nigel Remmington looking suitably proud of his impressive new toy. He needs to be careful though - Geoff Brookes looks as if he's itching to paint something.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 06/06/2015

Here at last!

03/06/2015

1118 on arrival at Okehampton
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 03/06/2015



1118 at Okehampton
Photographer: Paul Martin
Date taken: 03/06/2015



Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 03/06/2015



66522 having delivered 1118 to Okehampton
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 03/06/2015

Arrival of 1118

02/06/2015

The long awaited arrival of DEMU 1118 is expected on Wednesday 3rd June 2015. There are a few jobs to be done, and a few tests to be carried out before entering service. It is therefore planned that 1118 will re-enter service on Saturday 13th June 2015. This will allow the extended trips to Bow via Sampford Courtenay and North Tawton to re-commence.

Please check the services page for the correct timetables.

1118 at Williton.
Photographer: Nigel Remmington

2015 Sunday Rover starts

27/05/2015

The First Great Western Sunday Rover 2015 service started on May 17th. Tom Baxter's pictures below show the first train of the day, formed by a single car Class 153 unit, alongside DR's Meldon service train comprising D4167, Lab11 and Driving Trailer 61743.

Further details of the service can be found on our Sunday Rover page.

With the notable exception of this website, there has been a distinct lack of publicity for the Sunday Rover service this year. Okehampton Town Council's 'Destination Okehampton' work group is filling the gap by producing a leaflet for it, which should be available in the usual Okehampton area outlets, or can be downloaded from here.


153305 at Okehampton with the 0901 service from Exeter St James Park, the first train of the 2015 Sunday Rover service.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 17/05/2015



153305 at Okehampton with the 0901 service from Exeter St James Park, the first train of the 2015 Sunday Rover service.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 17/05/2015

1118 update

20/05/2015

The owner of DEMU 1118 has informed us that the long awaited arrival of Thumper Unit 1118, due on Thursday 21st May, has now been cancelled as the train operator due to bring the unit to the Dartmoor Railway has no serviceable locos. Unfortunately, this means 1118 will not be running this Bank holiday weekend.

We are sorry for the disappointment this may cause our passengers. More news will be announced as soon as we have it.

HRA Membership

11/05/2015

As of Friday April 8th, DRSA is a full corporate member of the Heritage Railway Association, the primary trade association for UK heritage and tourist railways, and preservation groups. We look forward to enjoying the benefits of membership.

Greenslade Bridge

23/04/2015

The main Okehampton to Crediton road was closed for several days in April to allow repairs to be made to Greenslade Bridge. Numerous bridge strikes from tall lorries or blind drivers had necessitated welding repairs, which were carried out by BARS' engineers.

Greenslade Bridge under repair.
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 23/04/2015

1118 pictures

20/04/2015

Nigel Remmington has sent in this recent picture of 1118 at Williton on the West Somerset Railway, coming to the end of its restoration and looking immaculate in BR blue. There's a small, unforeseen engine problem to sort out, then it's expected on the Dartmoor Railway before the end of May.

1118 at Williton. Almost ready!
Photographer: Nigel Remmington

Update on 2015 Services

14/04/2015

Unfortunately, DEMU 1118 will not enter service on May 2nd as planned. It is now expected nearer the end of May, possibly a little sooner. Timetable 1 will continue to apply until this happens. Precise details will be published on the services page as soon as we have them.

Recent activity

04/04/2015

It's easy to forget how much is involved in running a railway. Upstaged by the headline events like train services starting and Lab 11 entering service, lots of minor but essential activity goes on behind the scenes, keeping the wheels turning and enhancing the railway. Here are just a few recent examples, thanks to our photo contributors:

Peter Ritchie and Graham Parkinson hard at work in the Okehampton ticket office
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 04/04/2015



In case you thought it had gone forever, here's the flail, back from the far North, repaired by Dave Trant and in action. We couldn't operate without it.
Photographer: Dick Henrywood



Andy Turner blasting years of grime off Okehampton platform 3
Photographer: Paul Martin



'Before' and 'after' shots of the gradient post at the Exeter end of Okehampton station. As an ex-Station Maintenance team member, Duty Manager Paul Martin couldn't stop himself giving it a coat of paint.
Photographer: Paul Martin

Lab 11 at Okehampton

03/04/2015

D4167, Lab11 and 61743 at Okehampton
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 02/04/2015



On April 1st, Lab 11 was moved to Okehampton, for final preparation for 2015 services, which commence on Good Friday. This is the culmination of several years' restoration work by DRSA's Carriage & Wagon team, generously funded by an anonymous sponsor. The coach's appearance is a tribute to the skill and hard work of our C&W team, who have to work in appalling conditions. They suffered a major setback last year when the coach was the subject of a graffiti attack.

Lab 11 has been restored externally to the BR Research livery it carried when it was part of the Tribology test train in the 1970s. Internally the saloon area is equipped with loose chairs and tables, for maximum flexibility. As a brake generator coach with a kitchen, Lab 11 will be an extremely versatile vehicle for the Dartmoor Railway.

Lab 11 formed a train with 08937/D4167 and the driving trailer 61743, both of which have been smartened up in recent weeks.

More images of the restoration of Lab 11 can be seen in the Lab11 Gallery, last updated 03/04/2015.

Bridge 605A

27/03/2015

Bridge 605A is a new cycle/pedestrian bridge on the Exeter road out of Okehampton. Work is expected to be completed in April, having only started in December. The picture below was taken overnight on March 19th/20th when the road was closed and the bridge span was lifted into place onto the concrete abutments.

Photographer: Devon County Council
Date taken: 20/03/2015

Update on 2015 Services

23/02/2015

Unfortunately DEMU No 1118 will not be operational in time for the start of services at Easter 2015, due to extended restoration work. It is planned 1118 will commence services on Saturday 2nd May 2015.

1118 will not operate on Sundays during the period of the Sunday Rover. It is intended that 08937/D4167 will take over these Sunday services, operating between Okehampton and Meldon only.

08937/D4167 will be used for services commencing Good Friday 3rd April until the arrival of 1118 in May. It will operate between Okehampton, Meldon and Sampford Courtenay only during this period. Stock used will be from: MK2f mini buffet 1213, MK1 brake generator coach S34249 LAB 11, 4-CEP DMSO 61743, MK2a FK 13436, 1942 LMS brake van 731411.

Trains will be stabled in the down platform (2) at Okehampton.

New events

15/02/2015

2 dates for your diaries: Morris Dancers visiting the railway on May 16th, and an MG car rally at Okehampton on June 7th. Keep an eye on the events list for more details.

Polar Express traction departs

02/02/2015

The Polar Express locomotives, 33103 and 47701, were removed today by 31601. Dave Clegg was around to photograph the departure. See his pictures in the General gallery.

Lab 11 generator startup.

29/01/2015

First start of the Lab 11 generator.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 29/01/2015



Today we started up the generator in Lab 11 for the first time, a significant milestone in the coach's restoration, and a big morale booster for the Lab 11 team. It ran faultlessly all afternoon, and is essentially ready to go, although a few minor adjustments will be needed. We are grateful to David Trant for all his work on the generator installation.

Lab 11 update

27/01/2015

Philip Wagstaff's photos showing the latest progress with Lab 11 can be seen in the Lab11 Gallery.

Pathfinder Tours 'Devon Explorer' railtour

27/01/2015

Pathfinder Tours 'Devon Explorer' railtour is booked to visit Okehampton on Saturday April 25th. Scheduled traction is a pair of Class 37 diesels. It will spend about 3 hours with us, during which time we will top up the carriage water tanks. This is a great opportunity to show the railway to the outside world, and we would appreciate as much volunteer support as possible on the day.

More information: http://www.pathfindertours.co.uk/index.php/tour-calendar-reader/events/the-devon-explorer.html

Sunday Rover 2015

20/01/2015

We're delighted to announce that we learned today that the Sunday Rover service will be running again in the summmer of 2015. Sponsored by Devon County Council and operated by First Great Western, the service will comprise 4 trains each way between Exeter and Okehampton. More details to follow.

Wickham Trolley Refurbished

16/01/2015

With the Polar Express taking virtually full possession of the line in the final weeks of 2014, our track gang didn't waste their time. Oh no. Alan and Andy (particularly) spent part of their time refurbishing the Wickham trolley, with a new floor, replacement windows, and a complete repaint. The immaculate trolley is shown below during a well-deserved tea break at Bow station during its first trip up the line on 5 January. Note the prominent "No.1" up beneath the horn and the white-wall tyres – a real touch of class! Only the roof to go now, lads.

Wickham at Bow
Photographer: Dick Henrywood
Date taken: 05/01/2015

2014 Sunday Rover

08/01/2015

Reported 2014 Sunday Rover passenger numbers for Okehampton:

Date0925 arr1149 arr1551 arr1750 arrTotal arr0955 dep1158 dep1556 dep1759 depTotal dep
25/05/20147413327108351531283
01/06/20141328322396363113989
08/06/2014122336381093629151191
15/06/2014113633451252324496102
22/06/201417234016965713348112
29/06/20141420414311848281715108
06/07/201414252513772523101472
13/07/20142124523513253123612113
20/07/201415223427983529211499
27/07/2014225541271453521331099
03/08/20142234652614775242912140
10/08/20149155120953830257100
17/08/2014142854281243832359114
24/08/20143438583416465404910164
31/08/20142542464115453363820147
07/09/20142236532613742162924111
14/09/20141148675618251183222123
Total28353876152521077454214962051867
Average1732453112444252912110

Buffet and Sarah Keats

Don't forget that the Okehampton buffet re-opens on January 9th, after being out of action for the duration of the Polar Express. Unfortunately, Sarah won't be returning, having found full-time employment elsewhere. She will be sorely missed, and we wish her the very best for the future.

DRSA Christmas social

11 DRSA volunteers, and BARS' Mark Westerfield, celebrated Christmas with a very convivial meal at the Fox and Hounds on Dec 18th. A sad note was the farewell to C&W regular Sue Bowman, who leaves us for pastures new (well, Blackburn) shortly. Her contribution to DRSA was much valued, and we wish her well.

Polar Express traction 3

Following a difficult weekend operating the Polar Express with class 33 and class 08 traction, there was relief all round when the ubiquitous 31601 arrived on Friday Dec 5th with 47701 'Waverley' in tow. 47701, late of this parish but now owned by Nemesis Rail, was marshalled on to the Meldon end of the PE stock ready for service later in the day. Philip Wagstaff was again on hand to photograph the activity - see below, and the General gallery. 31601 subsequently departed for Derby, taking with it the failed 50026 as far as Bristol, en route for repair at Eastleigh.

47701 ready for Polar Express service.
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 05/12/2014

Polar Express traction 2

On Tuesday Nov 25th, 31601 was at Okehampton again, delivering 33103 'Swordfish'. A complicated shunt ensued, in order to position 50026 at the Meldon end of the PE stock, and 33103 at the Okehampton end. Philip Wagstaff was on hand to photograph the fun - see the General gallery.

Horticulture team

We're delighted to announce a threefold increase in the size of the Okehampton station horticulture team. Sue Baxter has persuaded Ann Rochester and Mavis Goff to join us to help keep our renowned floral displays looking pristine. Please say hello if you see them.

The girls are seen in action below. Ann on the left was reducing the rampant but pretty common vetch to make way for primroses, whilst Mavis on the right was wielding the secateurs over roses, escalonia and variegated ivy (Sue says).

Ann Rochester and Mavis Goff
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 22/11/2014

Polar Express traction

50026 'Indomitable' has now arrived at the railway for service on the 2014 Polar Express, and is a credit to its owners and restorers.

50026 'Indomitable' at Okehampton
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 22/11/2014



Plaque carried by 50026 'Indomitable'
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 22/11/2014



50026 'Indomitable' at Okehampton
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 22/11/2014

Secretary of State visits Okehampton line

On Wednesday October 29th the railway was visited by Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State of Transport, with Mel Stride, MP for Central Devon, on a fact-finding mission regarding the possible reinstatement of the line between Exeter and Plymouth via Okehampton. They were accompanied by local government leaders and senior First Great Western staff.

Having arrived at Okehampton by FGW train from Exeter, the party subsequently went on to Meldon to examine the viaduct, going under the structure on the viewing platform on the Tavistock side. Before returning to Okehampton the party met the DRSA Carriage and Wagon team who happened to be working at Meldon at the time. Afterwards the group went for a working lunch at the Okehampton Business Centre.

The party at Okehampton station. l to r: Bruce Thompson (Head of Transportation service DCC); Mark Hopwood (Managing Director of FGW); Cllr Dr Michael Ireland (OTC, Chair of Destination Okehampton); Cllr Kevin Ball (DCC - Okehampton Rural, WDBC, OTC); Cllr John Clatworthy (DCC - Dawlish); Cllr Paul Vachon (Mayor of Okehampton); Patrick McLoughlin (MP, Secretary of State for Transport); Mel Stride (MP for Central Devon).
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 29/10/2014



Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin MP and Mel Stride MP being grilled by the C&W team at Meldon
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 29/10/2014



Dartmoor Railway Duty Manager Graham Isom and Mark Westerfield of BARS with FGW Managing Director Mark Hopwood at Okehampton
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 29/10/2014

Waverley departs

47701 'Waverley' has been purchased by Nemesis Rail. 31452 and 31601 collected it from Meldon on October 16th. Philip Wagstaff and Sue Baxter were on hand with cameras, and took the following:

47701 Waverley departs a busy-looking Okehampton station behind 31452 and 31601
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 16/10/2014



31452 and 31601 paused at Okehampton on the way to Meldon to collect 47701
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 16/10/2014



31452 at Okehampton station
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 16/10/2014



47701 departing the Dartmoor Railway for pastures new, behind 31452 and 31601
Photographer: Philip Wagstaff
Date taken: 16/10/2014

Not the Last Thump

The heritage operational season ended in fine style on September 28th with the very successful 'Not the Last Thump' event. 1132/205032 ran the services, whilst 1128/205028 was pulled out of the restoration queue and placed on display at Meldon for the day. Tom Baxter took the pictures shown below. There is further coverage on the Preserved Thumpers website.

1132/205032 departs Okehampton during the Not the Last Thump event.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 28/09/2014



Bumper Thumper at Meldon during the Not the Last Thump event. This is 1128 as a 3-car unit plus 1132's middle car, but confusingly it's the green one which is 1128's middle car. So left to right the vehicles are 60146 (1128), 60677 (1132), 60673 (1128), 60827 (1128).
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 28/09/2014



60146, the power car of 1128/205028, during the Not the Last Thump event
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 28/09/2014

Last chance to travel on 1132

The appearance of 1132 at the Not The Last Thump celebration on Sunday 28th September may be the unit’s last for some time. It is now scheduled for much-needed mechanical and bodywork attention which is likely to take up to two years to complete. Don’t miss this last opportunity for some time to travel on 1132!

All is not lost however, as the restored 1118 will be with us soon, and will be fully operational in time to form the service train for the 2015 programme. More news to follow.

Photographer: Dan Roche
Date taken: 03/05/2014

Lab 11 graffiti attack

[Please note that the Lab11 Gallery includes some photos of the post-graffiti recovery. More details of the continuing restoration of Lab 11 can be found on the Carriage & Wagon page]

We were devastated by what confronted us on April 1st. It is especially galling for the Carriage and Wagon volunteers who have laboured for a year and a half to restore Lab 11, and had just put the finishing touches to the external paintwork. Grateful thanks to everyone who has got stuck in to the cleanup, and to BARS for their offer of assistance.

Photographer: Peter Ritchie
Date taken: 01/04/2014



Photographer: Peter Ritchie
Date taken: 01/04/2014



Photographer: Peter Ritchie
Date taken: 01/04/2014



Photographer: Peter Ritchie
Date taken: 01/04/2014

Lab 11 emerges

Lab 11 has now been repainted by our C&W team into its original BR Research livery. Appropriate lettering will be applied shortly.

Lab 11 in its new paint
Photographer: P.J. Chapman
Date taken: 26/03/2014