The South Devon Railway Enthusiasts' site

Appeal for Help with Cutting Back Gang
Cutting Back Gang at Woodville in October 2013Photo © 2017

To those who may wish to have an interest in this subject:

My first record of the Cutting Back Gang as it is currently in operation, started on 13th May 2007 – following a change of outlook on volunteer PW works at that time.

The project started with a small number (4 or 5) of us working in the Hood Bridge area, with the intention of improving the view of the River Dart for those passengers aboard the Dining Trains, which would stop there as the train paused whilst the staff on board served the Main Course.

There are no records of the number of volunteers attending - mostly on Wednesdays - at this early stage, but from March 2010 the records show that the average attendance has now grown into double figures. There are around 12 locations up and down the line that receive our attentions – mostly on an annual basis, and sometimes on both sides of the line. Some of these locations can stretch for up to half a mile from the assembly point, which on some occasions are reached by joining a convenient train service!

Besides improving the lineside, there is the large amount of logs gathered for eventual removal to Staverton, where they are processed into fuel for members of the public and staff to purchase. Their sale produces revenue for the railway.

The current gang of largely unseen individuals, turning up most Wednesdays, to work both sides of our seven mile branch line, are led by John Harris (one of the original 4 or 5) to make a difference for our visitors. Those of us who visit other Heritage Railways are well aware of how the encroaching foliage can limit the views from the trains. Do please consider contacting John Harris on 01364 653082, for more details about the current location and meeting point.

Looking at the pictures we have on record, they show just how much of a difference our efforts have made up and down the line, since the work started

With the likelihood of the mechanical flails not visiting the railway for a while, we need just as many volunteers as possible to keep up the momentum for the efforts achieved during the last 10 years.

Ted Parrott

Before and after views of the Cutting Back Gang’s efforts at Hood Bridge 25th January 2017
Photo © TParrott 2017

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