Station Name: HALWILL
[Source: Martin James]

Click here for Halwill Gallery 5: c1964 - October 1965


A Gloucester RC&W diesel railcar, later Class 122, waits in the Torrington bay at Halwill. This is probably the same service as seen in the picture showing the Class 116 unit. The railcar seen here has a small yellow warning panel and an overhead warning flash in the windscreen as described elsewhere. These warnings displayed a red 'lightning bolt' device and the wording 'Danger' at the top and 'Overhead Live Wires' at the bottom. They are still in use today although design can vary. In the 'six foot' can be seen a Westinghouse shunt signal of the design peculiar to the Southern. These were prolific at Halwill owing to the number of terminating trains and others which involved the attaching and detaching of vans and/or passenger stock. Both down side water columns can be seen in this view.
Photo by Rev. Peter Westall

Viewed from the signal box, the diesel railcar rasps away from the bay platform on its way to Bude. The characteristic smoke from the exhaust stacks will clear after a short distance, only to reappear upon departure from Bude due to the railcar idling in the platform following arrival. The pitched roof at right foreground was of the concrete hut, another Exmouth Junction product. The roof appears to be of corrugated asbestos and this form of concrete plus asbestos (or corrugated iron) construction was once very common. Ahead of the camera the Torrington bay platform can be seen with its apparently never-far-away barrow. From this angle it is clear how part of the hillside was cut back to accommodate the platform. It is from the top of this hill that the elevated views across the station elsewhere in these pages were taken.
Photo by Rev. Peter Westall

Looking along Halwill's down platform towards Okehampton prior to March 1965. On the right, and partly obscured by the water column, is a Pressed Steel Co diesel railcar on the Bude service. In the distance another railcar of the same type approaches the station on a Padstow service. There are passengers (and staff) waiting on both platforms so perhaps another train is due at the up platform. Alternatively the railcar may have arrived from Padstow, unloaded its passengers and is reversing. A few trains did this but unless any passengers wished to change for stations to Bude or Torrington the practice was somewhat pointless, as was terminating trains from Halwill at Torrington. Just visible is the 'target' nameplate which had by this time appeared on the signal box supporting column. On the right is a reasonable view of one of the Southern's double lamp standards. Curiously Exmouth Junction Concrete Works also produced concrete signal posts but these were unsuccessful and production ceased after a couple of years. This was in total contrast to the lamp standards which proved extremely long lasting and as of 2016 a few can still be seen doing the job they were designed to do, notably at a number of stations in Kent.
Photo by Rev. Peter Westall


Staff, of which there were plenty, are earning their keep in this view of the north end of Halwill station. The man on the right with the light-coloured jacket is probably a Royal Mail employee while, left, a porter is transferring a large suitcase to the railcar in the bay. Ahead of him, the cap badge of the smartly-uniformed man can been seen under magnification to be the once familiar British Railways 'totem' type. He is probably the guard of the railcar in the bay and supervising the loading of luggage etc. into his domain. On this occasion the railcar in the bay is one of the Gloucester RC&W examples, later Class 122. On the right is Gloucester RC&W No.W55000, the doyen of the class, coupled to what will either be another single-unit or a Class 116; this train is bound for Bude. Unfortunately such details were seldom recorded by photographers and especially where diesels were concerned. No.W55000 will depart, presumably with companion, towards Launceston and perhaps Padstow. This railcar was one of several to survive into preservation and at the time of writing is at the South Devon Railway.
Photo by Rev. Peter Westall

The final of the series of pictures taken by Rev.Peter Westall on an unknown date between 1963 and March 1965. This is a relatively busy moment at Halwill, with the people on the up platform being suggestive of a third train due to appear. The railcar in the bay is probably No.W55031 as seen above while that at the opposite platform is another, but unidentified, Pressed Steel Co single-unit bound for Bude. The headcode, 2C69, tells us it is heading for Padstow. Visible here are the solid bulkheads behind the driving cab at the brake end of the railcar. At the opposite end passengers had a view through the cab, this being one of the features which made DMUs popular when first introduced. Halwill suffered no shortage of Southern 'target' style nameplates with seemingly every lamp standard so-adorned. Another can be seen here attached to the stilt at the near end of the signal box.
Photo by Rev. Peter Westall

Undated views such as this can, due to the presence of the diesel railcars, be pinned-down with some certainty to the 1963-66 period but although this may be correct other aspects are not always what they seem at first glance. This view is believed to depict the very limited number of trains which served Halwill on Sundays and which ran largely for the benefit of Royal Mail. These comprised a single journey to Launceston and two to Bude. The train on the right, which will be operating the Bude services, has caused some puzzlement as it appears to be a driving motor from a Class 116, as they became, DMU coupled to another vehicle which is unidentified. The suspected Class 116 car is that nearest the camera and it appears to have too many seating bays for it to be a single-unit railcar. However, it should be borne in mind that camera angles and distractions such as open doors can create illusions. A Gloucester RC&W single-unit railcar stands in the bay and the activity on the platform looks like parcels etc. being transferred from one DMU to the other. A larger version of this image suggests the men standing near the railcar in the bay are railway enthusiasts as at least one is carrying the requisite accoutrements. The man nearest to, and with his back towards, the camera is wearing a bowler hat suggesting he is present in an official capacity, either for BR or Royal Mail although officialdom was not usually required for such operations - staff simply got on with their job and that was that. Signals are 'off' for both Launceston and Bude routes, despite neither train clearly being not ready to depart. This may suggest that Halwill signal box was 'switched out' on Sundays. Certainly this would have been possible given that only the three services described above operated on Sundays and the track layout would have permitted it but at the time of writing this detail remains unconfirmed
Photo from John Mann collection
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Halwill looking north on 27 February 1965. This was the last day of passenger services on the Halwill - Torrington section, official closure day being 1 March 1965. In the Torrington bay on the right, a rather basic 'afterthought' type affair typical of Colonel Stephens involvement, a DMU stands working a special for enthusiasts to mark the last day. This was more a charter train than a railtour and although it was photographed numerous times on its journey, not a great deal is known about it from the organisational aspect. The train appears to have run as far as Bideford and is also thought to have been the very last passenger train to traverse the Halwill - Meeth section. The train was a hybrid 3-car DMU, formed from two cars of a Class 116 DMU, as the type was to become known, and one car from a Swindon Class 120. Approaching the station on the crossover is another Class 116 DMU. it having come off the Wadebridge/Padstow line. Class 116 is described in another image caption. On the left is the down side bay platform with the slaughterhouse beyond. Also visible are the water crane on the down platform, some Southern 'target' nameboards and some Westinghouse shunt signals of the style peculiar to the Southern Railway. One of these is mounted on the signal post to the left. Other evidence of the Southern is the distinctive lamp standards.
Photo received from Sid Sponheimer

On 27 March 1965 The Exmoor Ranger railtour stands at Halwill while some of its patrons kindly help BR to ensure the track is all in order! Details of the tour can be read via the link but an interesting point concerns the train operating over the Halwill - Barnstaple route, of which the Halwill - Meeth section had closed completely almost a month previously. The five-carriage train contained BR Mk1 W21024 as seen here. The train is about to leave Halwill and will proceed along the Bude line before branching off via the one and only connection at Halwill onto the Torrington branch. Other photographs from this period suggest the track as far as Meeth was lifted very soon after this railtour ran. The locomotives are Ivatt 2MT tanks Nos.41206 (leading) and 41291 (facing camera). Both were Exmouth Junction residents at this time and both were transferred to Templecombe (Somerset & Dorset) later in 1965. No.41206 survived until March 1966 with No.41291 bowing out the previous month. Neither escaped the scrap man. British Rail was a constant target for criticism and ridicule but in truth did a very good job under difficult circumstances while their relations with properly organised enthusiast groups were generally excellent. The running of special trains over freight-only lines and, as here, closed lines was typical of their 'can do' approach providing safety was not too compromised. Such tours are still possible today but with the so-called 'privatised' railway, organisation is a long-drawn-out affair with many Health & Safety stumbling blocks, risk assessments, supposed unavailability of crews and rolling stock (this excuse usually appears at the last minute) and so on. The result is that most tours are now operated by companies set up for the purpose and the days of enthusiast groups organising their own railtours are all but a thing of the past.
Photo from KDH archive


As if in expectation of a sudden surge of passengers one day in 1965, a suburban DMU of what became Class 116 waits at Halwill. The unit is actually a hybrid, the vehicle at the far end being a Swindon-built example of what became Class 120. A number of photographs exist taken at various locations in the area and showing this unit in hybrid form so it must have ran around like this for some time. Hybrid units were a common sight but the combination of high density suburban with low density 'Cross Country' was unusual to say the least. The formation seen here at Halwill may have arisen through accident or fire damage to one or other unit and the set formed temporarily from serviceable vehicles. Whatever the truth, it does illustrate well the advantage of having units with a common coupling code, in this case Blue Square which eventually became the theoretical standard. There is no tail lamp on the near end of the DMU, yet, but the signal which is 'off' suggests that the unit is reversing and will return to either Bude or the North Cornwall line. A feature very common today, and which applied to Halwill, was the bi-directional ability of the through platform roads as permitted by the signalling. This was essential at Halwill due to the amount of shunting required when trains were split or joined. It was for this reason that Halwill was adorned with numerous shunt signals and had a relatively large, for such a rural location, signal box but it was not, as some sources claim, the largest box on a single-track network.
Photo by Chris Milner

On 5 September 1965 Ivatt 2-6-2T No.41283 stands at Halwill during the Great Western Society's Launceston Branch Centenary Tour. The train was a mix of BR Mk1 and GWR stock, one of the latter appearing to be a Hawksworth bow-ended example. The reason for the train apparently running 'wrong line' at Halwill was to allow No.41284 to run round the train, which has arrived from Launceston and will proceed to Bude. As the link shows, the train had used the connection between Great Western and Southern metals at Launceston. The locomotive bears an 83G shedplate, telling us that she was shedded at Templecombe (Somerset & Dorset). New in 1950, she spent much of her life in the North-West until moving south in 1963. She was withdrawn six months after this photograph was taken and scrapped shortly afterwards. At the bottom of her smokebox door and immediately below the shedplate is another plate bearing the initials 'SC'. This indicated that she had a Self-Cleaning smokebox. In simple terms, this was a device which used the exhaust blast to pulverise ash, which found its way from the firebox via the boiler tubes, and eject it from the chimney. It was one of several devices designed to make the job of crew and shedmen easier, partly in an attempt to ease recruitment problems and partly to help retain existing staff who were drifting away to cleaner and better paid jobs. The Self-Cleaning smokebox was among the features incorporated into the BR Standard steam locomotives which were generally based upon existing LMS designs.
Photo by Rev. Peter Westall

An elevated view looking due south across Halwill station. At the platform is Ivatt 2-6-2T No. 41283 preparing to depart for Bude on 5 September 1965, with the 'Launceston Branch Centenary Tour' tour which has been described above. This is believed to have been the last steam working west of Okehampton and thus the last steam engine to be seen at Halwill excepting, obviously, on the train's return journey from Bude. This view offers a reasonable look at the goods yard and also of the surrounding countryside and thus of the station's fairly remote location. A landmark, still there today, is the Junction Hotel (now the Junction Inn) on the left. The track can be seen snaking its way towards Meldon Junction and Okehampton in the distance. The route can still be traced today, as can the three lines radiating from Halwill towards Torrington, Bude and Launceston. The station site and goods yard is, however, now covered by housing with tediously unoriginal street names such as Beeching Close. Note the enthusiast standing on the signal gantry; railway staff were very relaxed about health and safety issues in those days.
Photo by Bernard Mills

Halwill with only diesel railcars, a Ford Anglia and a handful of people in evidence in this October 1965 view. The track into the Torrington bay, left centre background, has been lifted, the branch having closed in March 1965. Just arrived at the up platform is a train formed of two single-unit railcars. That nearest the camera is a Pressed Steel version, later Class 121, while that at the rear is a Gloucester RC&W version, later Class 122. The main distinguishing difference was the Pressed Steel cars having a four-character headcode box while the Gloucester cars made do with a two-character box below the central windscreen. There were a few other minor differences but in pictures such as this the Gloucester cars, in green livery days, could be distinguished by the lining. On the Pressed Steel cars the cream band around the waist continued round beneath the windscreens in the straight line but on the Gloucester cars it curved downwards before passing beneath the windscreens. Unless the points behind the train were changed immediately it passed over them, the train has arrived from Bude. The headcode displayed is 2C79. This may suggest that the train is continuing towards Exeter but could be the result of some changes made by the Western Region around this time. Towards the rear of the train two people are leaning out and looking back at something further down the line but what is unclear. Another railcar is waiting in the bay platform. Click here to see a larger version of this picture.
Click here to see a larger version of this picture.
Photo by Bernard Mills

Click here for Halwill Gallery 6: c1965 - 1975

 

 

 

[Source: Martin James]



Last updated: Sunday, 21-May-2017 09:58:59 BST
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