Station Name: DARTMOUTH

[Source: Paul Wright]

Date opened: 16.8.1864
Location: On the side of the west side of the River Dart adjacent to Dartmouth’s harbour.
Company on opening: Dartmouth and Torbay Railway
Date closed to passengers: 28.10.1972
Date closed completely: 28.10.1972
Company on closing: British Railways (Western Region)
Present state: Station still extant and in use as a restaurant.
County: Devon
OS Grid Ref: SX878511
Date of visit: 6.7.2009 and 9.9.2012

Notes: Dartmouth station was located in the town of Dartmouth on the river front. The station was very unusual in that it never was served by trains. Indeed no actual railway was ever to reach Dartmouth. The nearest that steel rails ever came to Dartmouth was on the opposite side of the river Dart at Kingswear.

There had been various schemes during the 1850s to build a railway to Dartmouth during which was an important maritime town but all had come to nothing. That was until the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway Company 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 crossing of the river Dart proved to be difficult and expensive so the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway Company opted to build a rail terminus in the small town of Kingswear which lies on the east bank of the River Dart opposite Dartmouth. Passengers would travel onward to Dartmouth by a steam ferry that would deposit them at a Terminus Station in the town.

The Dartmouth and Torbay Railway reached Paignton on the 2nd of August 1859 and Brixham Road, later renamed as Churston, nearly two years later. The line was completed to Kingswear on the 16th August 1864 and it was on that date that Dartmouth Station opened.

Dartmouth Station was a single storey wooden building with a pitched roof topped of with decorative ironwork. A canopy faced onto the street and a covered walkway linked to a floating landing stage. The floating landing stage allowed vessels to dock at the station at all states of the tide. The landing stage itself was 58 feet long making it capable of handling substantial passenger traffic. The station master at Dartmouth was paid more than his colleague at Kingswear due to the important traffic to HMS Britannia which later became the Royal Naval College Dartmouth.

In January 1872 the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway company was absorbed into the South Devon railway and in 1882 the lines between Newton Abbot and Kingswear became part of the GWR. By this date regular express services ran from Kingswear 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 to Kingswear which had been built as broad gauge
was converted to standard gauge. This allowed far more services to run down to Kingswear from all over the Country.

At the time of opening the ferries that connected Dartmouth Station to the railhead at Kingswear were operated as a franchise. This situation continued until 1901. From that date forward the GWR operated the ferry service itself with two vessels Dolphin and The Mew.

During the First and Second World Wars regular passenger traffic and tourist traffic was interrupted. However this was more than compensated for because of the Royal Navy presence at Dartmouth which meant that many special trains ran. After the Second World War regular passenger services and holiday traffic returned to the previous levels. In 1948 Dartmouth
Station, Kingswear Station and the ferries that linked them became part of the British Railways Western Region.

During the 1960s passenger numbers began to decline as road transport competed for the railways business. By 1971, apart from Summer holiday services, Kingswear was only served by 12 DMU operated trains per day. Onward ferries to Dartmouth were more frequent though as they were used by local people.

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
Railways.The shuttle service was kept going while the negotiations took place. The line was formally purchased by the DVLR on the 30th December 1972. However Dartmouth Station closed two months before the transfer on the 28th October 1972 with the end of the BR summer timetable.
The new company started to run trains from the start of the summer timetable in 1973. British railways included the DVLR services in its own national timetable. In the 1990s the DVLR became the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway (PDSR). Interesting the PDSR now runs the ferries that connect Kingswear to Dartmouth just as the GWR had once done. Dartmouth Station
has not re-opened but it has been preserved, painted in GWR colours and is in use as a restaurant.

Tickets from Michael Stewart  

See also: Churston

Dartmouth Station in c.1905
Photo from John Mann collection

Dartmouth Station in August 1960
Photo from John Mann collection

Dartmouth Station in September 1963
Photo from John Mann collection

Dartmouth Station in August 1977
hoto by Alan Young

Dartmouth Station in July 2009
hoto by Paul Wright

Dartmouth Station looking north in September 2012
hoto by Paul Wright

Click on thumbnail to enlarge




[Source: Paul Wright]

Last updated: Wednesday, 17-May-2017 09:59:12 CEST
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