South Devon Railway
Pete Waterman unveils
Heritage Railway of the Year 2007 Award
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Supporters and official guests of the South Devon Railway gathered at Buckfastleigh this week to celebrate the seven-mile line’s recent success in being named as Ian Allan Publishing’s ‘Heritage Railway of the Year’, making it the top steam-operated line in the country.

A special plaque was unveiled at the station by well known pop music impresario and railway enthusiast Pete Waterman, plus some of the judging panel, and guests enjoied a tour of the railway’s impressive workshop and a round trip to Totnes on the luxurious steam hauled Devonshire Pullman dining train.

Click here for the * article 10 April 2008 ©WMN. The Western Morning News also produced a video of the unveiling.

DATE:Wednesday, April 9, 2008
PLACE:Buckfastleigh Station, South Devon Railway (TQ11 0DZ, just off A38)
TIME:10.30am until 12.30pm Plaque unveiling by Pete Waterman was at 11.00am and Devonshire Pullman steam train left for Totnes at 12.30pm

Reporters, photographers, television cameramen and radio journalists were invited to attend the event which included some very interesting and visual heavy engineering operations in the workshops.

The much sought after ‘Heritage Railway of the Year’ award is given by Ian Allan Publishing to just one heritage railway each year in recognition of their high levels of customer service and the individual rail line’s contribution towards recreating the historic railway ambience of yesteryear.

Competition between the heritage railways in the country for this prestigious award is fierce but friendly, making the South Devon Railway’s achievement in winning the title all the more commendable.

It’s the second year running that the South Devon Railway (SDR) has scooped a National Heritage Railway Award accolade. In 2006, it won the GNER Volunteers Award for the restoration of the line’s Littlehempston station at Totnes.

Commenting about winning the award, a delighted SDR Trust Chairman Alan Taylor said: “We are both proud and thrilled to win this top award for the first time since we took over the line in 1991 -- it’s been a great team effort to achieve this accolade.

“In making their award, Ian Allan Publishing’s judges paid incognito visits to nearly 200 preserved railways around the country where they travel as ordinary members of the public and take note of how the lines are run and what’s on offer for visitors.

“They judge railways on the quality of service, the presentation and helpfulness of staff, the stations and coaches, the catering and toilet facilities, and the day out as a whole heritage railway experience.

“And we’re looking forward to welcoming Pete Waterman OBE to Devon next week who, as well as being one of the music industry’s leading lights, is also a hardened railway enthusiast.

“He’s a very fitting person to be unveiling the Heritage Railway of the Year plaque on the South Devon Railway and he is widely respected in the rail industry as the owner of a number of steam and diesel locos.

“In fact, his first job was working as a loco fireman at Wolverhampton in 1961 and he is now the Chairman of the London & North Western Railway Co. Ltd, based at Crewe, which provides servicing and repair facilities for the rail industry. He also builds model railways, engines and rolling stock, and railways remain a barely concealed passion for him.

“To win a major railway heritage award for the second year running speaks volumes for the hard work put in by every member of our great team. Our railway prides itself on its friendly atmosphere and strong teamwork between staff and volunteers.”

Last year, the South Devon Railway also broke the 100,000 passengers a year barrier for the first time in its 16-year history, and is running trains every day from now until October.

SDR General Manager Richard Elliott said: “Winning the Ian Allan Publishing Heritage Railway of the Year award is a great achievement for the South Devon Railway.

“It’s just reward for all of the hard effort and dedication that our volunteers and staff put into running the railway.

“The South Devon Railway is going from strength to strength every year now, and we have recreated a living country branch line that exudes much of the charm and character once seen on the old Great Western Railway system.”

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© South Devon Railway Trust 2008

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