Founded 1953

Proposed New Town near Plymouth

Farewell, to quiet Devon, proclaimed the headline in Tuesday’s Herald Express, over an article which concentrated mainly on the proposed new town to be sited in the South Hams, somewhere to the East of Plymouth.

But another one is due to cover many currently unspoilt acres of Devon somewhere to the east of Exeter.

I am wondering if the location of this new town in East Devon will be close to the new freight transfer station recently proposed for East Devon by a private developer. This fine idea, should it ever get of the ground, would enable long distance railfreight to be transferred for local distribution by road, and would create jobs for the people who live in the new town, and lessen the number who would otherwise daily have to commute into Exeter.

Although hopefully the public transport minded Devon County Council would consider a provision of a passenger railway station to be an essential part of the transport provision for this new town.

If both these proposals go ahead, this could justify returning the present single track line between Honiton and Exeter to double track in order to handle the extra traffic generated, and this, in turn, would give the extra capacity for an improved local service between Honiton and Exeter.

In the long term, the justified provision of a double track mainline out to Honiton could provide the impetus for the eventual restoration of the double track to the whole of the old Southern Railway Mainline even if at first only as far as Yeovil Junction.

Had it been rather nearer to Exeter than it is, and close to the A30 trunk road, which it is not, the old site of Seaton Junction Station, still undeveloped, would have provided plenty of room for the new facilities.

Where once there was a spread of at least ten tracks across the valley floor, today, only one single line carries the necessary limited service that South West Trains can provide on a single track with very limited passing places.

Back in 1958, although there were few habitations nearby, Seaton Junction was quite a busy station, handling passengers on and off the branch trains to Seaton, and also general freight and milk traffic from the depot on the western end of the station buildings.

The picture shown was taken on Saturday June 28 1958, Bulleid West Country Class Pacific Locomotive No 34036 Westward Ho! Is streaking through at about 80 mph with the 1.45 pm from Ilfracombe and Torrington to Waterloo.

On the Railwayman’s wages at that time, the Signalman would not have been able to afford a car, or, in this case even a motorcycle, as his "sit up and beg" bicycle is lent against the Signal Cabin wall, front lamp well polished, neaded when cycling through the lanes for shift changes at 10 pm or 6 am.

He must have strong arms too, for pulling off the point levers, operating the rods which can be seen between the up and down mainlines, ten disappearing alongside the train, westward towards the Exeter end of the yard, and five eastwards in the direction of the train towards Salisbury.

Extract from Herald Express in 1999 - By Peter Gray