Closure’s 60th anniversary marked by South Devon

By Dick Wood

THE South Devon Railway has run a special train to commemorate the last BR services on the GWR Ashburton branch 60 years to the day.

Regular timetabled passenger trains on the 10-mile Totnes to Ashburton branch, which opened in 1876, ran for the last time on November 1, 1958, with a final special train running on Saturday, November 3.

However, unlike most West Country rural branches that fell victim before, during or after the Beeching Axe of the 1960s, this one has now enjoyed a new life for nearly 50 years since 1969, when it was reopened as the Dart Valley Railway, and is now run by the South Devon Railway Trust.

In the 1950s, many children travelled to school every day on the train. Three of them – Sandra Coleman, Janet Masters and Cathie Sparkes – have been friends ever since. They are pictured standing by No. 5542 on November 1. JOHN BRODRIBB/SDR

The SDR Trust museum marked the withdrawal of timetabled services on Thursday, November 1 with commemorative displays, including photographs, personal memories from people who used the line, and a variety of objects from those early days, such as the now redundant single line train staff used between Buckfastleigh and Ashburton. The museum also displayed one of the original BR posters giving notice of the closure.

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