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Report - The Ilfracombe Railway, Devon, Summer 1980

Discussion in 'Other Sites' started by Bovine, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. Bovine

    Bovine 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Oct 18, 2008
    Likes Received:
    This line was built by the London and South Western Railway between Barnstable and the seaside resort of Ilfracombe, eleven miles away. To save money, numerous level crossings were installed instead of bridges, the prescence of which would later deliver a fatal bite ! Opening in July, 1874 as a single line, the volume of traffic soon led to its doubling, except for the Barnstable Junction to Town section across the River Taw bridge. The only major problem was the Combe Down ridge behind Ilfracombe, which led to gradients of 1 in 40 up to it, a tunnel and two miles of 1 in 36 down to Ilfracombe. Banking engines were used on the heavy holiday trains, which were up to 24 a day each way.
    In the 1950's passenger numbers declined and the line was singled in 1967, but the many staffed level crossings remained! Finally the line closed in 1970 and despite the efforts of a preservation society, the track was lifted in 1975. By 1980, a lot of structures and trackbed still remained, so a visit was made. The station at Ilfracombe had already disappeared under a factory and other developments loomed, so this is some of what was accessable.

    Barnstaple Town Station

    Looking the other way

    The hoarding advertises redevelopment of the site. There was a bay platform from which the narrow gauge Lynton and Barnstable trains used.

    Wrafton Station, still with signals and rail crossing

    Braunton Station, where the banking engines were attached for the climb

    The Ilfracombe down distant signal is at caution, Combe Down summit.

    The Slade tunnels looking towards Ilfracombe.


    And from the other bore, profile is slightly different.

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