Chuffed with success after 150 years

Friday 6th May 2022 11:00 am
LEFT: Oliver JJ Lane with his wife Ella and children Wilfred and Cordelia. ABOVE: Pictured in character are Eliza and Frank from Zoom Through History.

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A VISIT by the first engine to arrive on the line in its preservation era were among the highlights of the South Devon Railway’s 150th anniversary celebrations over the weekend.

The railway was first opened as the Buckfastleigh, Totnes and South Devon Railway on May 1, 1872, running nine miles from Totnes station to Ashburton.

The section between Buckfastleigh and Ashburton was lost when the A38 trunk road was built over the last two miles of line’s trackbed in 1971, one year short of its centenary.

A Corsican pine (Pinus nigra), each with a commemorative plaque, was planted at all of the South Devon Railway’s stations, at Buckfastleigh, Staverton and Totnes Riverside.

These trees were, and still are, a familiar site on stations of the former Great Western Railway (GWR) who regularly planted them across the West Country.

Centre stage was the appearance of GWR locomotive number 4555, now owned by the Dartmouth Steam Railway.

The 1924-built No. 4555 was the first engine to arrive on the line in 1965, after its closure some four years earlier by British Railways, and was a regular performer on the line in BR days, having been shedded at Newton Abbot.

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