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Thread: Okehampton Station - The Dartmoor Mainline Station that refused to die

  1. #1
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    Arrow Okehampton Station - The Dartmoor Mainline Station that refused to die


    Okehampton Station is the station on the Southern Railway “Withered Arm” which closed to scheduled passenger trains in 1972 and became almost derelict.

    The station was opened by the London and South Western Railway in 1871 initially as a terminus before the line was extended west on completion of Meldon Viaduct in 1874. The line also acted as an interchange station for the LSWR and latterly Southern Railway lines in north Devon and Cornwall.

    The route through Okehampton, known to many as the Dartmoor Mainline was a strategic alternative to that provided by the former Great Western route along the vulnerable Dawlish sea wall. Unfortunately the section of between Bere Alston and Meldon closed to traffic in May 1968 severing the Dartmoor mainline. However, passenger services to Okehampton from Exeter continued to run until 1972. However, following closure to passengers the station at Okehampton fell into gentle decay.

    However, as fate would have it - the Okehampton and Meldon never quite closed - thanks to freight traffic. Occasional troop (for the Army training camp) and excursion trains to Okehampton Station located high above the town and with easy access to some of the remote areas of the Dartmoor National Park.

    Following sale by British Railways during the privatisation process the station and railway beyond Crediton to Okehampton and Meldon passed to Ealing Community Transport (ECT) and in partnership with Devon County Council the station reopened for a scheduled summer weekend service to Exeter, supplemented by a shuttle service to Meldon Quarry on the edge of the high moor.

    The station was closed in 2008 (though the Devon CC sponsored weekend trains continued to run) as ECT put the line and station up for sale. However it was acquired by Iowa Pacific Railroad of Chicago and is now operated by a subsidiary British American Railway Services Ltd with some volunteer input. Plans are afoot for restoration of a commuter service to Exeter with park ride facilities.


    Okehampton Station Goods Yard - October 1979






    Okehampton Station - August 19,1982


    Okehampton Station August 19, 1982.. Platform 1 (right) was the departure point for the North Cornwall line trains via Halwill Junction. Platform 2 (left) served the Plymouth via Meldon and Tavistock. Whilst platform 3 far left was the "up" London Waterloo (via Exeter) platform.


    Okehampton Station signal box August 19, 1982.


    Platform 1 - August 19, 1982




    Life started to return to Okehampton Station in 1985. Here is an experimental Dartmoor shuttle train on August 24. The station was really quite derelict by now.



    An old Pooley Weighbridge survived



    The boarded up buildings are can be clearly scene here in this August 1985 view. The van was serving refereshments. Today the station buffet has reopened.


    Another general view in August 1985


    This story has a happy ending here is a photograph of the station in October 2010



    The full set of pictures during the closed period can be found at:
    http://jhlphotography.smugmug.com/Ra...tion-1970-80s/

    To see further views of the restored Okehampton and other parts of the Dartmoor Mainline - click on this link:
    http://jhlphotography.smugmug.com/Ra...tmoor-Railway/

    Quite a transformation - the goods shed is now used as a hostel for groups visiting Dartmoor.

    Hope you enjoy the photos.

    John
    Last edited by jhluxton; 5th Dec 10 at 17:58. Reason: corrections

  2. Thanks given by: Faing, night crawler, supermotolee, theoss, Winch It In
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  4. #2
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    I really must get down here when it is operational. I have been several times but have yet to see a train running. It great to see the site resurrected. Good shots of the closed period too JH.

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    Very interesting report indeed,amazing too the name of the new owners..maybe they might like to take over a few of our ailing current networks!

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    I remember okehapton station. Didn't know it had ever closed.

    There is also a quarry up there, a nice railway viaduct converted to cycle use with old kiln type things underneath.
    http://theossonline.wordpress.com/

    Boredom is a congestion of the thoughts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by klempner69 View Post
    ..maybe they might like to take over a few of our ailing current networks!
    What? Network Rail? Never a penny wasted...
    http://theossonline.wordpress.com/

    Boredom is a congestion of the thoughts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hydealfred View Post
    I really must get down here when it is operational. I have been several times but have yet to see a train running. It great to see the site resurrected. Good shots of the closed period too JH.
    During the winter it is running Saturday and Sunday between Okehampton and Meldon - plus there will be Santa and Mince-pie specials running Sampford Courtenay - Okehampton - Meldon on selected dates in December.

    Details on www.dartmoor-railway.co.uk

    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by klempner69 View Post
    Very interesting report indeed,amazing too the name of the new owners..maybe they might like to take over a few of our ailing current networks!
    They are already involved elsewhere oin the railway network - the Dartmoor Line is only one part of the operation.

    Visit the RMS Locotec site (another subsidiary) which gives more details.

    http://www.rmslocotec.com

    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by theoss View Post
    I remember okehapton station. Didn't know it had ever closed.

    There is also a quarry up there, a nice railway viaduct converted to cycle use with old kiln type things underneath.
    True it never completely closed - but it was certainly completely closed to scheduled services and as the photos I posted show it did become quite run down and virtually derelict apart from the platforms and running lines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by theoss View Post
    What? Network Rail? Never a penny wasted...
    Unusually with the Okehampton Line the owning company owns both track / infrastructure as well as the trains from Yeoford to the Quarry with no Network Rail involvement.

    Whilst this is the rule in the heritage railway sector it is rather unusual in mainstream operations.

    True, the heritage aspect of the Okehampton line has been developed and some volunteers participate in its operation.

    It is certainly not a preserved heritage railway in the usual understanding of the term.

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    I did an Outward bound course at Asburton in 1970 an don the three day hike we had spend the night near the Viaduct. Good to see the place is not lost.
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