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.


It is our intention to develop this page into a much more coherent and detailed study of the history of the line, but in the meantime here are a few random snippets of interest, added as we encounter them:

- YouTube video taken in 2016, with some 1969 still at the end, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQp9GHMzXX4

- There is a set of fascinating photos of Okehampton station taken in 1982 and 1985 by John H. Luxton, here.

- The Dartmoor Railway retrospective page contains a growing collection of old photos of the line.

- About 2 miles south west of Meldon on the former LSWR mainline is the granite Lake Viaduct, now part of the Granite Way. For more details see the Lake page on the Forgotten Relics website. The site is well worth a detailed study - you will find a gallery of Meldon Viaduct pictures, amongst many others there.

- the Nott Family page.

- Bow & North Tawton 150th anniversary.