Station Name: CHURSTON

[Source: Paul Wright]

Date opened: 14.3.1861
Location: West side of A379
Company on opening: Dartmouth and Torbay Railway
Date closed to passengers: Still open
Date closed completely: Still open
Company on closing: Still open
Present state: Station still open as part of the Paignton and Dartmouth Stream Railway.
County: Devon
OS Grid Ref: SX894563
Date of visit: 6.7.2009
Notes: Churston Station opened to passengers as Brixham Road on the 14th March 1861 and to goods traffic on 1st April 1861. The station was built by the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway Company who were formed so that a line could be built from the South Devon Railway, which ran from Newton Abbott to Torre near Torquay, to Dartmouth. The South Devon railway had run out of funds so could not afford to push their line on the Dartmouth. The Dartmouth and Torbay Railway reached Paignton on the 2nd of August 1859 and Brixham Road nearly two years later. The line was not completed to Kingswear, where a ferry connected to Dartmouth, until the 16th August 1864 so Brixham Road was a terminus for the
first couple of years of its existence. The line was built as Broad Gauge so that connections could with GWR network could be made.

The line between Paignton and Kingswear was built as a single track branch but Brixham Road was a passing point so two platforms were provided. A stone built single storey building situated on the Kingswear direction platform provided the main station facilities. The platforms were linked by a footbridge. A hotel was opened just outside the station in 1863. The station was also provided with goods facilities. Train services were operated by the South Devon Railway.

In February 1868 a two mile Branch was opened from Brixham Road to the nearby Harbour town of Brixham. The branch line was built by another independent railway company the Torbay and Brixham Railway. With the opening of the Brixham Branch Brixham Road became a junction Station and it was renamed Churston. To cater for the Brixham line
services a bay platform was added at the north end of the station. Services on the new branch were for a short time operated by the South Devon Railway but a dispute between them and the branch’s owners brought an end to this situation very quickly and the Torbay and Brixham Railway started to run its own services.

In January 1872 the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway company was absorbed into the South Devon railway.

In 1882 the lines between Newton Abbot and Kingswear, including the Brixham Branch became part of the GWR. By this date regular express services ran from Churston to London Paddington. The area around Torbay was promoted as a tourist area and during the summer many extra services ran.

In 1892, in common with the entire GWR Broad Gauge network the line through Churston and the branch to Brixham was converted to standard gauge. This allowed far more services to run down to Kingswear from all over the Country.

By 1913 the platforms at Churston were no longer long enough to cater for the lengthy trains that stopped at the station. The GWR extended the platforms and crossing loops at the Kingswear end so that longer trains could be accommodated. At the same time the signalbox which had been at the east end of the station was resited to the 'down' platform alongside the
footbridge. Churston remained in this form until the 1960s.

During the inter war years holiday traffic was very heavy with many passengers disembarking at Churston for onward travel to seaside towns such as Brixham. The Second World war interrupted this traffic but it resumed again once hostilities ended. In 1948 Churston Station became part of the British Railways Western Region. By the 1950s two large Pontins holiday camps at Brixham provided a steady steam of passengers. However even by this time road transport had started to compete and passenger numbers began to decline, although in 1958 Churston was served by 20 down and 18 up passenger services each weekday as well as 12 return trips along the Brixham Branch.

In May 1963 the Brixham Branch closed completely and the station layout at Churston was rationalised; this included removal of one of the branch sidings. On the 14th of June 1965 Churston’s goods facilities closed, except for a coal depot which in turn closed on the 4th December 1967. The remaining branch siding was taken out of use in 1968. From the 20th May 1968 staff, were withdrawn from the station except on Summer Saturdays when thousands of holiday makers traveling to and from Pontins arrived and departed. The line through the station was reduced to a single track on 20th October 1968 and the signalbox closed with only the former Kingswear direction platform remaining in use.  By 1971, apart from Summer holiday services, Churston was served by 12 DMU operated trains per day in each direction running between Paignton and Kingswear.

As early as 1968 the Paignton to Kingswear line had been earmarked for closure, although interestingly the 1963 Beeching Report had suggested that the line be kept open. The threat had not gone away and a company of enthusiasts was formed called the Dart Valley Light Railway Co (DVLR). The DVLR started to negotiate a purchase of the line from British Rail. The shuttle service was kept going while the negotiations took place.

The last BR services ran over the weekend of 28/29 October and from Monday 30th October the Western Region provided a basic service on behalf of the Dart Valley Railway. The line was formally purchased by the DVLR on the 30th December 1972 who began its own service on 1st January 1973 using a separate station at Paignton. The original intention was to
provide an all-the-year-round service but it was quickly cut back to summer-only running. The new company started to run trains from the start of the summer timetable in 1973. British Rail included the DVLR services in its own national timetable.

Since 1973 the Paignton to Kingswear line has been transformed. Churston Station has returned to a condition reminiscent of its heyday. The signal box was reopened in 1979 to control a new crossing loop through the 'up' platform and in 1980 track was relaid into the former Brixham bay platform. In 1981 the turntable from Goodrington was moved to a position alongside the Brixham junction.. The signal box was closed again in 1991 when control of the whole line was transferred to Britannia Crossing at Kingswear. A locomotive workshop was built behind the 'up' platform in 1993 and the Brixham bay platform was partially covered by a carriage workshop in 1996.

The DVLR has become the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway (PDSR). The PDSR ran a steam hauled service between Paignton and Kingswear during the summer months all of which call at Churston. In recent years services from the national network have also returned to the line.

Further reading: The Brixham Branch by CR Potts, Published by Oakwood Press 2000
ISBN 978-0-853615-56-9. Tickets from Michael Stewart   

See also Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway web site

  See also Brixham Station

The Brixham bay platform at Churston Station looking south west in 1906
Copyright photo from
John Alsop collection

Churston Station looking south west in 1921
Photo from John Mann collection

The Brixham bay platform in August 1958
hoto by Mike Morant from his Old Pix Brought to the Fore web site

Churston Station looking south west in c.1964, shortly after the Brixham branch track was lifted.
Photo from John Mann collection

Churston Station looking South West in February 1973 just after ownership was transferred to the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway (PDSR). British Railways had reduced it to a basic station with only a single track remaining
hoto by Alan Young

By January 1984 the Paignton and Dartmouth steam railway (PDSR) had restored the station to its former glory. The passing loop through the 'up' platform had been relaid in 1979 and the
track into the Brixham Branch bay platform was relaid in 1980.
hoto by Ben Brooksbank

Churston Station in July 1991. Land to the right has been cleared for the new locomotive workshop and track laying is underway.
hoto by Alan Young

Churston Station in 1994 after completion of the locomotive workshop.
Photo by John Law from his Everything on Rails web site

Churston Station in July 2009 looking north east. The line from Goodrington Sands to Kingswear was always a single track despite the routes importance as a main line railway. Churston Station however was provided with a passing loop and two through platforms. The carriage workshop at the far end of the station was built on 1996 stands on the site of the Brixham Branch platform.
hoto by Paul Wright

Click here for more picture of Churston Station




[Source: Paul Wright]

Last updated: Wednesday, 17-May-2017 09:12:32 CEST
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