Station Name: SIDMOUTH

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 6.7.1874
Location: On the north side of Alexandria Road at its junction with Station Road (B3176)
Company on opening: Sidmouth Railway
Date closed to passengers: 6.3.1967
Date closed completely: 8.5.1967
Company on closing: British Railways (Western Region)
Present state:

The station is largely intact, including the south end of the platform and canopy and forecourt canopies. Several builders’ merchants occupy the yard and goods shed. A shortened engine shed survives as an office.

County: Devon
OS Grid Ref: SY122886
Date of visit: August 1963, June 1965 and August 1969 & 23.8.2005

Sidmouth station was poorly sited for tourists, high above the town and ¾- mile from the sea front. It is said that this was to deter day-trippers who, it was felt, would lower the tone of the town. However, to extend the line to the coast would have required a steep gradient.

The station had a single platform with lines running on either side. The line to the east could accommodate seven coaches while that to the west could take only five. In reality the platform proved too short for some excursions, such as the 'City of Plymouth Holiday Express' with its nine coaches. Having run into the longer side of the platform two coaches had to be
uncoupled by another locomotive and shunted into the other platform line which had no run-round loop. This proved very inconvenient when trains arrived at the shorter platform. Once passengers had disembarked the train would pull sufficiently far out of the platform to allow the locomotive to uncouple and run into a siding while the coaches ran back into the platform by gravity.

The station building was Italianate in style and incorporated a stationmaster's house, booking office, waiting rooms, toilets and station offices. The structure was of red bricks, with pinkish brick used for the quoins. The range of buildings began at the southern end with the station house, with a pitched roof, placed transverse to the platform and embellished with a pair of gablets under which were arched window openings on the upper floor. Beyond this the single-storey pitched-roofed buildings stretched along the platform. Between the gable of the station house and another gabled office section was a short canopy over the entrance to afford protection from the weather. On the platform elevation a canopy with a pitched roof and fretted valance supported on iron columns stretched a little beyond the station building; this was later extended to cover two-thirds the length of the platform.

. Sidmouth was not an industrial town, so goods services mainly brought in agricultural supplies, building materials, and coal for domestic purposes and for the gasworks at Sidmouth. Goods sidings were provided on

both sides of the two platform lines. One long siding ran parallel to the run-round loop passing through a large brick goods shed which had a pitched slate roof and the goods office at the south end. Another long siding ran to the east of the goods shed. To the west of the station a short siding served a cattle dock and pens. There was also a 2-ton crane in the yard. Miller & Lilley, brick makers, coal and general merchants had a rail-served building in the yard.

A fourth siding, also to the west of the station, ran over a turntable into an engine shed. The first shed at Sidmouth was a wooden building, opened on 6 July 1874. It burned down on 7 January 1900 and was replaced later that year with a brick building on the same site. Because the line was exclusively worked by tank engines, the turntable was taken out in 1932, six

years before the shed itself was closed. The building continued to stand, having been put to other uses. In 1959 it was used by Sidmouth Engineering. Today the rear half of the shed is still standing, in excellent condition, in use as offices. To the north of the station, on the down side, a tall signal box with 23 levers controlled access to the station and yard.

Although passenger numbers dropped during the 1950s Sidmouth still handled a reasonable quantity of goods traffic, with one daily goods train from Sidmouth Junction until the withdrawal of goods traffic from 6 September 1965 when the yard was downgraded to a coal depot only. Passenger traffic was withdrawn on 6 Match 1967 but coal traffic continued until 9 May 1967.

The first railway in Sidmouth was narrow gauge, built in connection with an 1836 dock venture. This was short-lived and the dock was never built. The Sidmouth Railway was authorised in 1862 but the company collapsed after some of the line’s earthworks had been built; it was revived in 1871, and the line finally opened on 6 July 1874.

The station was inconveniently sited a mile inland; Sidmouth residents deliberately discouraged the railway from coming to the sea front in an attempt to deter trippers. It preferred to remain a select resort, even into the second half of the twentieth century. Sidmouth had been attracting a limited number of visitors for 80 years, especially for winter residence,
and the coming of the railway made less difference than at any other resort in the West Country. The absence of sand on the beach was also an important consideration as shingle beaches are generally less popular with family holidaymakers and day-trippers.

The line was built and owned by the Sidmouth Railway Company but operated on its behalf by the L&SWR, with traffic running down the Otter valley from Sidmouth Junction to Ottery St Mary and Tipton St Johns and then over the steeply graded section to Sidmouth. Although traffic was never heavy it remained steady and was sufficiently high for the Sidmouth Railway to retain its independence until 1923 when it was absorbed into the Southern Railway. Initially there was a total of seven trains ran daily taking 30 minutes for the journey; this reached a peak of 24 services each way in the 1930s

Unlike Sidmouth, the resort of Budleigh Salterton welcomed the locally sponsored Budleigh Salterton Railway which continued following the Otter valley from a junction with the Sidmouth branch at Tipton St Johns. It opened on 15 May 1897 with an intermediate station at East Budleigh, and a second added two years later at Newton Poppleford.

Although the company remained independent until 1912 the line was operated by the London & South Western Railway who built an extension from Budleigh Salterton to Exmouth; this opened on 1 June 1903, with an intermediate station at Littleham on the outskirts of Exmouth.

Much of the through London - Exmouth traffic was diverted along the new line, and several through trains round the circular Exeter - Exmouth - Budleigh - Sidmouth Junction - Exeter route were introduced. Use of the two branches was encouraged by the introduction of runabout tickets just before WW1, and the lines were moderately well used by day-trippers
from London until the start of WW2.

Passenger numbers on the branch remained healthy well into the 1950s, although rationalisation in the 1960 reduced the line to little more than a skeleton service with diesel multiple units introduced on 4 November 1963. A cross-country service from Cleethorpes to Exmouth was introduced in 1960 but this lasted only two years.

The lines between Sidmouth and Sidmouth Junction and between Exmouth and Tipton St John were earmarked for closure in the Reshaping of British Railways (‘Beeching’) report of March 1963. The formal publication of the closure proposal took place on 20 August 1964. Although the Minister of Transport, Thomas Fraser, consented to the closure on 22 December 1965 – his final day in office before Barbara Castle took his place – there was a considerable delay until closure to passengers was effected.

There had never been any industrial development in Budleigh Salterton and goods traffic was always correspondingly light. Freight facilities were withdrawn on 27 January 1964. Through passenger trains were withdrawn at the end of the 1966 summer season, and both branches closed to passenger traffic on 6 March 1967. Freight traffic to Sidmouth survived for a further two months with complete closure from 8 May 1967.

The track was lifted shortly after closure.

Route map drawn by Alan Young. Tickets from Michael Stewart. Bradshaw from Nick Catford

Click hereto see the lyrics of a folk song about the proposed Budleigh Salterton Railway before it was built.

To see the other stations on the Sidmouth& Budleigh Salterton Railways click on the station name: Sidmouth Junction, Ottery St. Mary, Tipton St. Johns, Newton Poppleford, East Budleigh, Budleigh Salterton & Littleham

Sidmouth station and goods yard c1905. The platform canopy was later extended along the full length of the platform shown here. The engine shed, seen on the right, replaced the earlier shed that burned down in 1900. The small building with a chimney to the left of the canopy is the weigh office.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

1889 1:2,500 OS map shows the station layout as built. At this time there was no signal box, and the original engine shed is shown.

1933 1:2,500 OS map shows a number of changes. After the fire in 1900 the engine shed has been replaced with a smaller brick shed. The turntable was removed in 1932 as it was no longer required. The buildings on the right side of the yard have all been replaced with new buildings, and there is another new building between the two sidings. A goods office is now shown on the south end of the goods shed. A signal box is also shown at the entrance to the yard, The brick works to the west of the station has closed, and there has been considerable residential development to the east of the station.

1953 1:2,500 OS map shows little or no change to the station or goods yard although, by this date, the engine shed had closed. Sidmouth Gasworks has been built to the east of the line; this brought new business to the railway in the form of coal.

A passenger train has pulled into the longer platform road c1904. The substantial goods shed is seen on the right with the goods office in front of it. The signal box is seen in the distance behind the signal.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Sidmouth station looking towards the buffers c1910, before the canopy was extended. A passenger train is seen in the shorter platform road to the right.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Trains stand in both platform roads in August 1928. 80 has run round its train and is awaiting departure. 80 was a Southern Railway T1 class loco was built to a design by William Adams in 1889 at Nine Elms works of the LWSR. One of a class of 50 built in batches of ten, this loco was scrapped in 1936 and very few of this class survived into BR service; the final one, 30007, was withdrawn in 1951. None of the T1s was preserved though one boiler and smokebox has survived and is presently stored on the Avon Valley Railway; it can be seen on that railway's website under ‘Rolling Stock’, then ‘Locomotives’.
Copyright photo from Tony Harden collection

A DMU waits to depart with a local service in the 1960s. DMUs first came to Sidmouth in November 1963, shortly after the branch was listed for closure by Beeching. Note that the canopy has
now been extended.
Photo from John Mann collection

Looking south towards the buffers under the extended station canopy c1960.
Copyright photo from Tony Harden collection

The entrance to Sidmouth goods depot in the 1960s. The building in the centre is the weigh office (now without its chimney). The goods shed and goods office is seen to the right. The wooden building on the far right is probably a coal merchant's office. Click here to see a similar recent view.
Photo from John Mann collection

Sidmouth station looking north in August 1963. The full length of the canopy extension is seen here. The goods shed and goods office are seen on the right.
Photo by Philip Tatt from 30937 Photographic Group

A passenger train awaits departure from the short platform line at Sidmouth station in August 1963. This line has no run-round facility. After passengers have left an arriving train it has to be pushed back out of the platform to allow the locomotive to uncouple and run onto the shed line. The coaches then roll back into the platform by gravity allowing the locomotive to be attached to the front of the train ready for departure. 80042 was built in 1952 at Brighton works and allocated to Bletchley shed on 15 July. This Riddles-designed 2-6-4 Class 4 tank had spells allocated to Ashford and Tonbridge sheds, before being moved to Exmouth Junction shed on 2 July 1962, from where it was withdrawn on 6 February 1965 and cut up three months later.
Photo by Philip Tatt from 30937 Photographic Group

Sidmouth station forecourt in 1966.
Photo by Malcolm Bott

Sidmouth station looking south in August 1969. The engine shed, seen on the right, closed in the 1930s and has been put to a number of different uses since closure. Note the new windows and door.
Photo by Nick Catford

Sidmouth station looking south in August 1972.
Photo by John Mann

Sidmouth station seen from the entrance to the goods yard in August 1977.
Photo by Alan Young

Sidmouth station forecourt in April 2012. Little has changed since the station closed 45 years earlier.
Photo by Chris Allen, reproduced from Geograph under creative commons licence

Click here for more pictures of Sidmouth station




:[Source: Nick Catford]

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