The South Devon Railway Enthusiasts' site

SOUTH DEVON RAILWAY 25th July 2017

An update on some of the things happening on and around the South Devon Railway at the moment.

Judging for South West in Bloom started on Thursday 20th July, and included Buckfast Abbey, the South Devon Railway and most parts of Buckfastleigh including Fore Street. The general consensus is that it went well, and the railway’s floral displays certainly look magnificent. They are a great credit to groundsman Nick Wakeling and his team.

Photo © RDadson 2017

Cutting back continues at Bulkamore: thanks to Robin Dadson for the photos. They show the working site, the team heading off for lunch, Dennis Taylor and Roger Brown burning some of the material, and the bubblecar slowing to pick up the team at the end of the day. Anyone who would like to join the Harris Gang for an enjoyable and rewarding day in the fresh air should contact him on 01364 653082.

The new north end stock shed seem from the riverPhoto © 2017

I’ve been down by the riverside, and was able to take a photo of the new carriage shed from the Ashburton end. It is a little difficult to make out much detail because of the dense undergrowth, but it shows that the structure gets as near to the river as is possible. Perhaps not surprisingly it was not permissible to extend the railway embankment and therefore the shed, but the end result is well worth having. When all is finished it will once again be possible to use the footpath back up to the main site, passing the new structure.

The long set, used on the departures which are timed as on the red timetable, is currently four coaches: the two BR Mark 1 open saloons, buffet 1917, and the chocolate and cream brake. Because of its higher seating capacity it is used for booking parties, and is often very full. Auto 233 is available for strengthening with set.

Bob Bache at the controls of the single car DMU W55000Photo © 2017

The 4.30pm departure from Buckfastleigh, and return from Totnes, is worked by newly repainted bubblecar No W55000, and Bob Bache has driven this every day so far. Whilst passenger numbers are not huge, it can load surprisingly well on occasion.

Dean Woodward topping up an axle box on BR MkI Buffet 4802
Work progressing on the centre door of 4802
Photos © JBrodribb 2017

The peak season blue timetable is now in full swing on the South Devon Railway, which is the railway’s busiest season. The two train sets are made up of three Great Western vehicles, two chocolate and cream and one blood and custard, and although the colours don’t match they make a very nice set, and certainly reflect what actually happened in the 1950s. The problem is that they don’t have wheelchair access, except in the brake van of No 1654, which isn’t really good enough these days. Help is at hand, though, with buffet car No 4802 due back in traffic early next week. This should also help reduce stress levels among buffet stewards, who aren’t keen to use the trolley currently on this set. For the moment people using a wheelchair have been directed onto the other set, and this has worked reasonably well.

Talking of 4802, which has had its annual exam and, whilst it’s been in the running shed with rail level access, the water tank has been moved from the Staverton side centre doorway to a new custom enclosure underneath the galley. This has also simplified the plumbing greatly. The centre door on the Staverton side has been reinstated, and repairs have been necessary around it. Panelling will be renewed. The work will give the added advantage of full wheelchair access to the main buffet counter.

GWR 2-6-2T Small Prairie 5526 waits at the Buckfastleigh yard signalPhoto © JBrodribb 2017

Something that has escaped many people’s attention at Buckfastleigh is the work to the yard exit signal. This has a wooden post, and usually a ringed arm. This has been removed for refurbishment, and the photo shows 5526 passing the temporary replacement arm.

Paul Drewett starts fitting stays to a replacement thermic syphonPhoto © JBrodribb 2017

Watch out for news on L92! Meanwhile the dies are expected next week for pressing of the backheads for the “fleet” of Bulleid locomotives currently residing in South Devon. Work on thermic siphons continues apace, with staying currently in progress.

And finally, to whet your appetite, the next Big Red Bus trip will be to the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway on Saturday 14 October. We hope to hold the fare at £20, to include your bus fare and train ride. Hopefully their new locomotive Lyn will be in service. Watch this space. Save the date!

Best wishes

John Brodribb
SDRT Museum Curator


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© South Devon Railway Association 2017


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