Lynton and Barnstaple Railway

Gauge: 1ft 11½in (600mm)

 

Collection Objects

Number Railway Object Type Description Image
TYWRM:LB001.1 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway board destination board; wood; marked 'LYNTON' file LB001.jpg
TYWRM:LB001.2 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway brackets brackets for destination board; wood; marked 'LYNTON'
TYWRM:LB002.1 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway board destination board; wood; marked 'BARNSTAPLE' file LB002.jpg
TYWRM:LB002.2 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway brackets brackets for destination board; wood; marked 'BARNSTAPLE'
TYWRM:LB003.1 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway board board; wood; marked 'NOT TO BE MOVED' file LB003.jpg
TYWRM:LB003.2 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway brackets brackets for board; wood; marked 'NOT TO BE MOVED'
TYWRM:LB004 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway lamp iron lamp iron from buffer stop at Lynton file LB004.jpg
TYWRM:LB005 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway milepost milepost; cast iron plate marked '1/4' file LB005.jpg
TYWRM:LB007 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway photograph framed sepia photograph file LB007.jpg
TYWRM:LB008 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway wagon plate builder's plate marked 'BRISTOL WAGON AND CARRIAGE WORKS CO. LTD. ENGLAND'; brass (door step) file LB008.jpg
TYWRM:LB009 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway button Two uniform buttons file LB009.jpg
TYWRM:LB010 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway sleeper 1no. cast concrete sleeper made by Southern Railway for Lynton and Barnstaple Railway file LB010-1.jpg
TYWRM:LB011 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway repair card vehicle card "For Repairs - Not to Go" file LB011.jpg
TYWRM:LB012 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway goods waybill Lynton and Barnstaple Rly monthly "Coal Class" abstract form file LB012.jpg
TYWRM:LB013 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway goods waybill Lynton and Barnstaple Rly monthly Goods abstract form file LB013.jpg
TYWRM:LB014.1 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway glass Drinking glass etched "Lynton and Blackmoor Refreshment Rooms" file LB014-1.jpg
TYWRM:LB014.2 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway glass Drinking glass etched "Lynton and Blackmoor Refreshment Rooms" file LB014-2.jpg
TYWRM:LB015 Lynton and Barnstaple Railway form Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Driver's Report Form for 19th October 1901 file LB015.jpg

In the late nineteenth century railways were encouraging the growth of tourism. In Devon the remote coasts of Exmoor had several attractive towns wishing to develop as seaside resorts. Travelling to them was the problem. Although main railway lines had reached Minehead and Ilfracombe the heart of Exmoor had such difficult terrain that a railway seemed impossible.

Following the example of North Wales, Exmoor sought a solution in narrow gauge railway. On 11th May 1898 the 1ft 111/2 in gauge Lynton and Barnstaple railway opened. The single-track line ran from Barnstaple Town station, shared with the Ilfracombe line of the London and South Western Railway and ran across the western end of Exmoor to a terminus at Lynton which also served Lynmouth.

The railway was designed to follow the contours of the land as closely as possible, although some embankments and bridges were required. The major feature was the splendid Chelfham Viaduct which soars 70′ above the Stokes River. Sadly the cost of constructing the line was underestimated. The Railway Company was forced to raise further funds by issuing new shares laying the foundations of an insecure financial position which remained until the lines demise.

The railway’s three 2-6-2 tank engines were built by Manning, Wardle and Co. of Leeds and named Yeo, Exe and Taw. All the rolling stock was built to generous proportions, considering the gauge of the track, and the coaches were spacious and comfortable. The railway was equipped with most attractive and unusual chalet style buildings

Shortly after service began it became apparent that three locomotives would not be enough and, since Manning, Wardle was busy with other work, an order was placed with the Baldwin Locomotive Works in the USA. The Baldwin was named Lyn and, whilst not as elegant as the British built locos, it gave good service.

The railway enjoyed some success initially, carrying local passengers, tourists and a certain amount of freight. Unfortunately the high debt burden and running costs did not allow for significant profit for the shareholders. Nevertheless the railway carried on until, in the grouping of 1923, it was absorbed by Southern Railways.

Southern Railways began a major investment programme. Another locomotive was purchased, built by Manning Wardle to their original drawings and named Lew. New goods wagons were bought and more frequent services introduced but the railway was still not profitable. Unfortunately, due to the route followed by the line many of its stations were far from the settlements they served making competition from road transport all the more severe. On 29th September 1935 Southern Railways closed the line. Rolling stock and track was sold off with almost indecent haste, and the locos were cut up for scrap

Much of the route still survives, as do most of the buildings and the Chelfham viaduct, restored in 2000.  The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway is now the subject of active restoration, and the first section was re-opened at Woody Bay station on 11th May 2003, 105 years to the day after the original opening.

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