Devon is a county where the railway network changed more than most in the Beeching era. A county which had previously been well served by both the Great Western and Southern railways now presented an amount of duplication added to which quaint branch lines served areas of limited population, the latter financially viable for just a few months of the year and associated with tourism. Peak and flows of traffic were not something to be tolerated by Dr Beeching, but the resultant pruning of the network had other unforeseen and less welcome effects that reduced the traffic flow onto the main lines. Add to this the move away from steam and the continual advent of the motor car and the result was a local rail map altered beyond what might anyone could ever likely have perceived. True, some passenger services had already been culled in the 1950s prior to Beeching, Princetown and Ashburton two examples, but when the unthinkable, Padstow, Kingswear, Ilfracombe and then even almost the whole of the Okehampton line was closed, it is small wonder there were those who may have had doubts about where it all might have ended. Within these pages we are delighted to present an exercise in pure nostalgia; an opportunity to sit back and enjoy Devon at its BR peak – a railway network in the early throws of transition.
Softback, 112 pages, 159 black & white photographs