Appeal for reminiscences and anecdotes from the first 150 years of the railway to Bow and North Tawton
2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the railway reaching Bow and North Tawton. The Okehampton Railway Company’s line began at a junction with the North Devon Railway (now the Tarka line from Exeter to Barnstaple) at Coleford, and headed west around the northern slopes of Dartmoor. On November 1st 1865, the line was opened as far as Bow and North Tawton and services began. Okehampton followed in 1871, and Lydford in 1874 following the construction of Meldon Viaduct.
The line was part of the route from Waterloo to Plymouth, successively operating as the Okehampton Railway Company, the Devon and Cornwall Railway Company, the London and South Western Railway and the Southern Railway, followed by nationalisation in 1948. Passenger services ceased in 1972, although the line remained open for stone trains to and from Meldon Quarry. Activity increased with the creation of the Dartmoor Railway in 1997, a tourist and heritage railway now largely run by the Dartmoor Railway Supporters’ Association (DRSA) and its associate company Granite Line. Both Bow and North Tawton stations remain closed and in private but enthusiastic ownership.
Recently the line has been on the political agenda, as its reinstatement is one of the options being considered as a diversionary route in the event of the seawall railway at Dawlish being damaged again.
The DRSA, with the assistance of Bow and District Historical Society, is appealing for anecdotes and reminiscences of the railway at Bow and North Tawton. The association hopes to collect sufficient material to produce a commemorative booklet to mark the sesquicentenary, as well as augmenting the display at Okehampton Station Museum and DRSA’s archive. If anyone has a story to tell about working on or using the railway at Bow or North Tawton, DRSA would be delighted to hear it. To contribute, please contact Jon Kelsey on 01363 774188 or firstname.lastname@example.org