The South Devon Railway & Ivybridge Railway Station

The South Devon Railway

& Ivybridge Railway Station

As early as the mid 1830s plans to extend the existing railway network as far south as Falmouth in Cornwall had been proposed but without too much progress. However, once the line from London and Bristol had reached Exeter in 1844 there was real impetus to continue the line westwards.

“Such has been the speed with which this mode of rapid communication has been adopted in other parts of the country, and such the extent to which it has been already carried, that, whatever differences of opinion may exist as to its merits, it would seem to be ridiculous now to discuss the utility or non-utility of the plan of loco-motion and transit. The present has evidently become a Rail-road age; and if the inhabitants of the West any longer neglect its adoption, they will certainly be left far behind in the race of this kind of travelling improvement.”

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 31 October 1840

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, engineer of the Great Western Railway Company, surveyed a route from Exeter St David’s Station, the southern terminus of the Bristol and Exeter railway, through Dawlish to Plymouth, a route which avoided many steep gradients but one which left the track vulnerable to storms. Brunel, ever committed to technological innovation, was attracted at the time to a new means of motive power for the South Devon Railway line where the trains were driven by ‘atmospheric power’.

 

In 1840, proposals put forward by James Rendel, the engineer of the Plymouth and Dartmoor Railway were scrutinised.  Although a direct route across the centre of Dartmoor proved popular, another suggestion of a route to the south of the Moor gained favour. In October 1843 it was agreed to accept the route via Dawlish, Teignmouth and Newton Abbot to a terminus at Eldad, on the southern side of Stonehouse Creek in Plymouth. From here it could be branched to Devonport’s Torpoint Ferry to join the projected route down into Cornwall.

 

On July 4th 1844 the South Devon Railway Act received the Royal Assent. The authorised capital of £1,100,000 in £50 shares was largely funded by the Bristol and Exeter Railway Company and the Great Western Railway Company along with the Bristol and Gloucester Railway Company.

 

By May 1846 the South Devon Railway reached Teignmouth and by December, Newton Abbot. With Brunel still intending to utilise atmospheric power, pipes were laid along with a pumping station at Totnes. Although the supposed advantage of the atmospheric system was its hill-climbing ability, Brunel only tested the system on a relatively flat section, assuming that the system would work on the very challenging gradients towards Plymouth. However, following a series of setbacks and failure of the equipment, Brunel abandoned the experiment and steam locomotives were employed on all trains from 6 September 1847.

 

Before the South Devon Railway could be opened to carry passengers it had to be inspected by the Inspector General of Railroads. On 29 April 1848, a thorough inspection of the line from Totnes to Laira was undertaken.  With everything found in good order it was announced that the line would be officially opened on 5 May 1848.

 

To celebrate the opening of the last part of the South Devon Line, a special train carrying invited guests, many connected with its construction, left Laira Green Temporary Station near Plymouth on the morning of the 5th May. The train consisted of one first class carriage, two second class and two third class and was drawn by two engines, named Pisces and Cancer.

 

Shortly after leaving Laira the journey took in the grounds of the Earl of Morley at Saltram and Colebrook Station at Plympton before continuing through open countryside where the track was reduced to a single track. The guests were then greeted with the first of several impressive viaducts, Slade viaduct, followed by Moor Cross or Blachford viaduct. Entering a deep cutting at Ivybridge, the train passed the yet to be completed railway station and over the highest of the viaducts just beyond. The next viaduct was at Bittaford, a location which the newspaper articles interestingly referred to as Devil’s Bridge, owing to it being “a spot renowned in local tradition, as the scene of many accidents on the road”. From there the track crossed the Exeter to Plymouth turnpike road via a skew bridge at Monksmoor before passing through Wrangaton Station, Glaze viaduct and on to Brent station. The other major feat of engineering was the 800-yard Marley tunnel which ran through the grounds of Lady Carew. After an “exceedingly pleasant trip”, passengers alighted the train at Totnes just 42½ minutes later.  Upon arrival at Totnes the party was so large that breakfast had to be served at both the Seven Stars Hotel and the Seymour Hotel. After breakfast the guests re-boarded the train which was now decked in flags and evergreens for the return journey. Arriving back to Laira the guests were met and transported to the Royal Hotel for a déjeûner á la fourchette where the prosperity of the South Devon Railway was toasted.

 

The regular service started on 6 May 1848, with six trains running each day. The single fares to or from Totnes were 4s 10d first class; 3s 4d second class; and 1s 9d third class.

 

The only intermediate station in operation at the time of the opening of the line was at Wrangaton (known as Kingsbridge Road from 1849 to 1893, before reverting back once the branch line to Kingsbridge opened).

 

On 1 June 1848 came the announcement that the London Mails were to be conveyed to Plymouth by the South Devon Railway, slightly ahead of the opening of the new General Post Office in Whimple Street on  6 June 1848.

 

On 15 June 1848 the stations at Brent, Ivybridge and Colebrook were opened. The inhabitants of Ivybridge were so pleased they decorated the town with flags and arranged for a band to be in attendance during the day.  Cornwood was provided with a station in 1852 whilst an unstaffed station was opened at Bittaford on 18 November 1907. There were no goods facilities there but Redlake Siding was opened 3⁄4 mile to the west on 10 September 1911. This siding served a large china clay drier which processed clay brought by pipeline from Redlake on Dartmoor; the eight mile long, 3ft gauge Redlake Tramway was used to carry materials between Redlake Siding and the clay pits.

 

The line from Laira Green was later extended through Lipson and Mutley to the new terminus at Millbay Station, the original Eldad terminus having been abandoned along with the plan to cross the River Tamar at Torpoint. This new station opened on 2 April 1849 and goods traffic started on 1 May 1849. Once the line had been extended into the Borough of Plymouth, Laira Green Temporary station was closed to passenger traffic from 2 April 1849.

 

The goods shed at Plymouth was expected to be ready by 15 May 1849 and the directors had been asked to provide a goods shed at Ivybridge Station. A small extension to serve Millbay docks was opened in 1850 and three years later the Sutton Harbour branch.

 

In the 1850s Brunel took the railway on into Cornwall, designing the famous Royal Albert Bridge over the River Tamar. Its unique design consists of two 455-foot lenticular iron trusses 100 feet above the water. The bridge was opened by Prince Albert on 2 May 1859.

 

By 1890, the stretch of line between Hemerdon and Rattery was one of the few remaining sections which had not been double tracked. Tenders for the vast undertaking would also see the discontinuance of broad gauge in favour of standard gauge, or narrow gauge as it was referred to then. Between 1876 and 1890 a large proportion of the Great Western Railway had already been converted to the standard gauge so this had become a necessary requirement. Passengers were told that the alterations to the line would offer ‘considerable benefit in the form of extra trains and notably later ones.’

 

A new railway station was also contemplated for Ivybridge which was to be located a little further down the line to avoid the steep hill which passengers had to currently negotiate. In conjunction with these changes, a new branch line was also to be constructed between Brent Station and Kingsbridge.

 

Messrs. S. Pearson and Sons of Victoria St, Westminster, were contracted by Great Western Railway to undertake the reconstruction and doubling of the main line. Engineers staked out the direction of the line deliberately avoiding gradients where possible. This resulted in some deviations from the previous line with some of the awkward curves straightened. The longitudinal sleepers used on the broad gauge line were removed and cross sleepers laid in their place, as was now the norm.

 

The double tracking to the west of Ivybridge viaduct was completed on 11 June 1893 and from the far side of the viaduct to the east, a 3½ mile section from Wrangaton to Ivybridge, on 13 August 1893 with the arrangements for “slewing” well planned, and carried out by around 200 workmen in rather less than five hours.’

 

The branch line to Kingsbridge was opened in December 1893 and Wrangaton Railway Station which had been renamed Kingsbridge Road Station shortly after opening, reverted to its original name on the same day.

‘CITY OF TRURO’ STEAM LOCOMOTIVE

On the morning of 9 May 1904 the ‘City of Truro’ pulling the Oceans Mail train from Plymouth to Paddington became the British first steam locomotive to exceed 100 mph during its descent of Wellington Bank in Somerset.

SHAREHOLDER’S PERKS

A perk of being a shareholder in the Great Western railway was that you could request the train to stop at your local station. The owners of the mill were in this position and often travelled on The Cornish Riviera from London and alighted at Ivybridge Station, an unscheduled stop.

Ivybridge Railway Station

was opened on 15th June 1848. The building was situated on the north side of the track, immediately to the west of Ivybridge Viaduct.

The trains now stop at Colebrook, Ivybridge, and Brent stations, a great convenience for the inhabitants of those neighbourhoods. The electric telegraph will be completed to the Plymouth station in the course of next week; communications can then be made throughout the line.

Exeter Flying Post 22 June 1848

The main station building was a chalet-style structure with round-headed windows and an overhanging roof. Access to the platforms was along aptly named Station Road or via steeply inclined steps located close to the viaduct. From the platform, travellers enjoyed an almost panoramic view of Ivybridge.

 

A visitor is 1904 describes the scene at Ivybridge Station

at Ivybridge, the traveller sees nothing but a tidy little station, with a steep background of laurel bushes and ivy-clad pines, and away in the fertile valley, far below, a little grey town, with an undulating expanse of green, wooded country beyond it… From the station, descending at once, a long flight of steps cut out of a laurel-clad bank, and passing under one of the high arches of the graceful aerial viaduct which spans the Erme Valley, one follows a shady road, with stately mansions, fronted by soft, green lawns gay with rhododendron blooms on one hand and on the other the Erme babbling among its mossy boulders. In a few minutes one reaches the bridge from which the little town takes its name.

Rail travel was affordable for everyone and was a popular means of travel with first, second and third class carriages. In 1844 the Railway Regulation Act stipulated that passengers in third class must be sheltered from the elements and be provided with seats.

 

At random intervals Ivybridge was visited by trains known as ‘farm specials’ – effectively farms on the move – with livestock, fodder, machinery, working horses, the farmer and his family and the farm hands all moving from one part of the country to another, following the farm sales. Regular stops for milking, feeding, watering and mucking out were all planned. Other special trains called at Ivybridge to pick up supplies of the specialist paper produced at Stowford Mill.

 

The replacement viaduct which was brought into use to allow the joining up of the double-track sections forced the construction of a new westbound, down platform due to the new alignment. The up platform was widened and this left the building set back at an odd angle to the track.

Ivybridge Railway Station staff.
Ivybridge Railway Station
Map of Goods shed and Station

Queen Mary alights the train at Ivybridge Railway Station …

On Monday 16 May 1938, Queen Mary commenced a 5 day visit to Devon. This would be the first time she had been in the Westcountry since the war, when she visited Devonport with the late King George V. She left Paddington at noon, arriving at Exeter St. David’s Station at 3 o’clock. From here, a special train of three coaches (two L. and N.E. Royal saloons and a third G.W.R. coach), would transport her to Ivybridge Railway Station.

 

On the station platform she was greeted by Lord Francis Bingham Mildmay who was acting as Lord-Lieutenant in the absence of Lord Fortescue who had been taken ill. From there, the Queen was taken by the Royal Limousine, a dark maroon Daimler, to Flete estate near Ermington, where she was staying as a guest of Lord Mildmay.

 

The procession of vehicles left the railway station and made their way along Station Road, Erme Road and Fore Street, en route to Flete. The school in Ivybridge had a day’s holiday to enable children of the village to witness the historic occasion. Nearby Stowford paper mill stopped production and the shop keepers in Fore Street stood outside their shops.

Strings and clusters of flags, charmingly colourful against the backgrounds of green and dark, moist stone, were the festive symbols of a loyal, hearty welcome. Scores of children, each in Sunday best and carrying a Union Jack, had gathered in excited groups, with their waiting elders in lines behind them.

Her Majesty, it had been announced, preferred that no new bunting should be bought to mark her visit, and that flags preserved from Coronation time be used. No doubt Ivybridge obeyed that wish; yet the display was a brave and bonny one, fitting to a memorable occasion.

Western Morning News 17 May 1938

There must have been a thousand or more people in the streets of Ivybridge, and hundreds more were waiting on the road through Ermington to Flete

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 20 May 1938

Amongst the crowd welcoming the Queen to Ivybridge was Miss Emma Ann Wyatt, aged 101 waving her hankerchief with “ as much strength as she could muster” as she drove past

Western Morning News 21 May 1938

The Queen’s engagements during her short stay included a visit to Pamflete, the home of Major and Mrs Crocker Bulteel. This attractive Georgian farmhouse located near Holbeton had been enlarged to accommodate John Crocker Bulteel’s large family and staff when he left Flete in 1870. Here she was shown various objets d’art including a painting by Constable of Mary Bulteel as a child. It was then on to Mothecombe House, the home of Mr Alfred Mildmay and Miss Beatrice Mildmay, the brother and sister of her host. Later she visited Holbeton church and signed the visitors book “Mary R”.

 

Later in the week she visited Plymouth, meeting the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress before proceeding on to the Prince of Wales’s Hospital Greenbank road and afterwards at the Guildhall. Her last day was spent in Exeter before departing from Ivybridge once more on Friday 20 May. Whilst waiting for her train to arrive it was suggested she might like to go in the waiting-room to which she replied, “ I would rather stay in the lovely Devonshire air”. The royal saloon decked with pink carnations and attached to the Cornish Riviera Express arrived soon afterwards and Queen Mary departed for London.

Queen Mary alights the train at Ivybridge Railway Station …

On Monday 16 May 1938, Queen Mary commenced a 5 day visit to Devon. This would be the first time she had been in the Westcountry since the war, when she visited Devonport with the late King George V. She left Paddington at noon, arriving at Exeter St. David’s Station at 3 o’clock. From here, a special train of three coaches (two L. and N.E. Royal saloons and a third G.W.R. coach), would transport her to Ivybridge Railway Station.

 

On the station platform she was greeted by Lord Francis Bingham Mildmay who was acting as Lord-Lieutenant in the absence of Lord Fortescue who had been taken ill. From there, the Queen was taken by the Royal Limousine, a dark maroon Daimler, to Flete estate near Ermington, where she was staying as a guest of Lord Mildmay.

 

The procession of vehicles left the railway station and made their way along Station Road, Erme Road and Fore Street, en route to Flete. The school in Ivybridge had a day’s holiday to enable children of the village to witness the historic occasion. Nearby Stowford paper mill stopped production and the shop keepers in Fore Street stood outside their shops.

Strings and clusters of flags, charmingly colourful against the backgrounds of green and dark, moist stone, were the festive symbols of a loyal, hearty welcome. Scores of children, each in Sunday best and carrying a Union Jack, had gathered in excited groups, with their waiting elders in lines behind them.

Her Majesty, it had been announced, preferred that no new bunting should be bought to mark her visit, and that flags preserved from Coronation time be used. No doubt Ivybridge obeyed that wish; yet the display was a brave and bonny one, fitting to a memorable occasion.

Western Morning News 17 May 1938

There must have been a thousand or more people in the streets of Ivybridge, and hundreds more were waiting on the road through Ermington to Flete

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 20 May 1938

Amongst the crowd welcoming the Queen to Ivybridge was Miss Emma Ann Wyatt, aged 101 waving her hankerchief with “ as much strength as she could muster” as she drove past

Western Morning News 21 May 1938

The Queen’s engagements during her short stay included a visit to Pamflete, the home of Major and Mrs Crocker Bulteel. This attractive Georgian farmhouse located near Holbeton had been enlarged to accommodate John Crocker Bulteel’s large family and staff when he left Flete in 1870. Here she was shown various objets d’art including a painting by Constable of Mary Bulteel as a child. It was then on to Mothecombe House, the home of Mr Alfred Mildmay and Miss Beatrice Mildmay, the brother and sister of her host. Later she visited Holbeton church and signed the visitors book “Mary R”.

 

Later in the week she visited Plymouth, meeting the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress before proceeding on to the Prince of Wales’s Hospital Greenbank road and afterwards at the Guildhall. Her last day was spent in Exeter before departing from Ivybridge once more on Friday 20 May. Whilst waiting for her train to arrive it was suggested she might like to go in the waiting-room to which she replied, “ I would rather stay in the lovely Devonshire air”. The royal saloon decked with pink carnations and attached to the Cornish Riviera Express arrived soon afterwards and Queen Mary departed for London.

The deterioration of the railway network

After World War II, with the rail network in a severely poor state of repair, it was nationalised as British Railways. The line at Ivybridge was handed over to British Railways (Western Region) at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1947. Britain was entering a phase of economic recovery and with petrol rationing at an end, car ownership began to grow rapidly, in stark contrast to the deteriorating viability of the railways. To address the problem British Railways embarked upon a ‘Modernisation Plan’ aimed at improving capacity, reliability and safety and make services more attractive to passengers and freight operators. Measures included electrification of main lines, replacement of steam locomotives by modern diesel alternatives, new passenger and freight rolling stock and the closure of several lines. By the end of the decade British Railways announced the closure of passenger services at several local stations including Plympton, Cornwood, Ivybridge, Bittaford and Wrangaton.  On 2 March 1959 all passenger services at Ivybridge ceased and the railway station was demolished during the next decade.

Sgnl bx

A signal box was situated on the south side of the line between the station and the goods yard from 1895 until 1973.

Sgnl bx

A signal box was situated on the south side of the line between the station and the goods yard from 1895 until 1973.

Ivybridge Railway Station Goods Yard

Ivybridge Railway Station Goods Yard

The original goods shed at Ivybridge Railway Station was replaced on 1 October 1911 by a new facility further west accessed via Langham Levels. The red brick goods shed was accompanied by cattle loading pens and coal wharves. It was very busy place regularly receiving and despatching goods. It became the distribution centre for heavy goods and parcels of the postal service, serving the southern parts of the South Hams.

The original goods shed at Ivybridge Railway Station was replaced on 1 October 1911 by a new facility further west accessed via Langham Levels. The red brick goods shed was accompanied by cattle loading pens and coal wharves. It was very busy place regularly receiving and despatching goods. It became the distribution centre for heavy goods and parcels of the postal service, serving the southern parts of the South Hams.

The original goods shed at Ivybridge Railway Station was replaced on 1 October 1911 by a new facility further west accessed via Langham Levels. The red brick goods shed was accompanied by cattle loading pens and coal wharves. It was very busy place regularly receiving and despatching goods. It became the distribution centre for heavy goods and parcels of the postal service, serving the southern parts of the South Hams.

With the railway network continuing to deteriorate, a new radical solution was urgently required. In 1963, Richard Beeching, Chairman of the British Railways Board produced a report entitled ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’, commonly referred to as ‘The Beeching Report’. This identified uneconomic routes and recommended widespread closure of railway stations across Britain as well as the scrapping of goods wagons. On 29 November 1965 the goods yard at Ivybridge was unable to avoid the ‘Beeching Axe’ and was closed for good, with local man Tom Pettifer locking up for the very last time. It did however continue as a china clay distribution point receiving locally sourced china clay from Lee Moor by road transport.

With the railway network continuing to deteriorate, a new radical solution was urgently required. In 1963, Richard Beeching, Chairman of the British Railways Board produced a report entitled ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’, commonly referred to as ‘The Beeching Report’. This identified uneconomic routes and recommended widespread closure of railway stations across Britain as well as the scrapping of goods wagons. On 29 November 1965 the goods yard at Ivybridge was unable to avoid the ‘Beeching Axe’ and was closed for good, with local man Tom Pettifer locking up for the very last time. It did however continue as a china clay distribution point receiving locally sourced china clay from Lee Moor by road transport.

After 35 years without a railway station at Ivybridge, on 15 July 1994 , a replacement was opened just a mile away from the original site on the east side of the viaduct. In order to fit into the narrow site, the station platforms were staggered. With a large car park offering a park and ride, the intention was to encourage car drivers to switch to rail transport.

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RAIL LINKS

The British Pathe film follows the delivery of a postcard to a family living at Pound Farm in Ivybridge. In 1947 Pound Farm was let to Percy Lawrence Ford on a yearly Michaelmas tenancy from Highlands Estate. 

 

The children in the film appear to be twins called Dorothy and Donald Ford. Their mother was a Miss Yeoman before she married Percy Ford and William Yeoman was at the farm in 1930. The twins were born at the end of  1932. 

 

THE SOUTH DEVON RAILWAY

As early as the mid 1830s plans to extend the existing railway network as far south as Falmouth in Cornwall had been proposed but without too much progress. However, once the line from London and Bristol had reached Exeter in 1844 there was real impetus to continue the line westwards.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, engineer of the Great Western Railway Company, surveyed a route from Exeter St David’s Station, the southern terminus of the Bristol and Exeter railway, through Dawlish to Plymouth, a route which avoided many steep gradients but one which left the track vulnerable to storms. Brunel, ever committed to technological innovation, was attracted at the time to a new means of motive power for the South Devon Railway line where the trains were driven by ‘atmospheric power’.
In 1840, proposals put forward by James Rendel, the engineer of the Plymouth and Dartmoor Railway were scrutinised.  Although a direct route across the centre of Dartmoor proved popular, another suggestion of a route to the south of the Moor gained favour. In October 1843 it was agreed to accept the route via Dawlish, Teignmouth and Newton Abbot to a terminus at Eldad, on the southern side of Stonehouse Creek in Plymouth. From here it could be branched to Devonport’s Torpoint Ferry to join the projected route down into Cornwall.
On July 4th 1844 the South Devon Railway Act received the Royal Assent. The authorised capital of £1,100,000 in £50 shares was largely funded by the Bristol and Exeter Railway Company and the Great Western Railway Company along with the Bristol and Gloucester Railway Company.
By May 1846 the South Devon Railway reached Teignmouth and by December, Newton Abbot. With Brunel still intending to utilise atmospheric power, pipes were laid along with a pumping station at Totnes. Although the supposed advantage of the atmospheric system was its hill-climbing ability, Brunel only tested the system on a relatively flat section, assuming that the system would work on the very challenging gradients towards Plymouth. However, following a series of setbacks and failure of the equipment, Brunel abandoned the experiment and steam locomotives were employed on all trains from 6 September 1847.
Before the South Devon Railway could be opened to carry passengers it had to be inspected by the Inspector General of Railroads. On 29 April 1848, a thorough inspection of the line from Totnes to Laira was undertaken.  With everything found in good order it was announced that the line would be officially opened on 5 May 1848.
To celebrate the opening of the last part of the South Devon Line, a special train carrying invited guests, many connected with its construction, left Laira Green Temporary Station near Plymouth on the morning of the 5th May. The train consisted of one first class carriage, two second class and two third class and was drawn by two engines, named Pisces and Cancer.
Shortly after leaving Laira the journey took in the grounds of the Earl of Morley at Saltram and Colebrook Station at Plympton before continuing through open countryside where the track was reduced to a single track. The guests were then greeted with the first of several impressive viaducts, Slade viaduct, followed by Moor Cross or Blachford viaduct. Entering a deep cutting at Ivybridge, the train passed the yet to be completed railway station and over the highest of the viaducts just beyond. The next viaduct was at Bittaford, a location which the newspaper articles interestingly referred to as Devil’s Bridge, owing to it being “a spot renowned in local tradition, as the scene of many accidents on the road”. From there the track crossed the Exeter to Plymouth turnpike road via a skew bridge at Monksmoor before passing through Wrangaton Station, Glaze viaduct and on to Brent station. The other major feat of engineering was the 800-yard Marley tunnel which ran through the grounds of Lady Carew. After an “exceedingly pleasant trip”, passengers alighted the train at Totnes just 42½ minutes later.  Upon arrival at Totnes the party was so large that breakfast had to be served at both the Seven Stars Hotel and the Seymour Hotel. After breakfast the guests re-boarded the train which was now decked in flags and evergreens for the return journey. Arriving back to Laira the guests were met and transported to the Royal Hotel for a déjeûner á la fourchette where the prosperity of the South Devon Railway was toasted.
The regular service started on 6 May 1848, with six trains running each day. The single fares to or from Totnes were 4s 10d first class; 3s 4d second class; and 1s 9d third class.
The only intermediate station in operation at the time of the opening of the line was at Wrangaton (known as Kingsbridge Road from 1849 to 1893, before reverting back once the branch line to Kingsbridge opened).
On 1 June 1848 came the announcement that the London Mails were to be conveyed to Plymouth by the South Devon Railway, slightly ahead of the opening of the new General Post Office in Whimple Street on  6 June 1848.
On 15 June 1848 the stations at Brent, Ivybridge and Colebrook were opened. The inhabitants of Ivybridge were so pleased they decorated the town with flags and arranged for a band to be in attendance during the day. Cornwood was provided with a station in 1852 whilst an unstaffed station was opened at Bittaford on 18 November 1907. There were no goods facilities there but Redlake Siding was opened 3⁄4 mile to the west on 10 September 1911. This siding served a large china clay drier which processed clay brought by pipeline from Redlake on Dartmoor; the eight mile long, 3ft gauge Redlake Tramway was used to carry materials between Redlake Siding and the clay pits.
The line from Laira Green was later extended through Lipson and Mutley to the new terminus at Millbay Station, the original Eldad terminus having been abandoned along with the plan to cross the River Tamar at Torpoint. This new station opened on 2 April 1849 and goods traffic started on 1 May 1849. Once the line had been extended into the Borough of Plymouth, Laira Green Temporary station was closed to passenger traffic from 2 April 1849.
The goods shed at Plymouth was expected to be ready by 15 May 1849 and the directors had been asked to provide a goods shed at Ivybridge Station. A small extension to serve Millbay docks was opened in 1850 and three years later the Sutton Harbour branch.
In the 1850s Brunel took the railway on into Cornwall, designing the famous Royal Albert Bridge over the River Tamar. Its unique design consists of two 455-foot lenticular iron trusses 100 feet above the water. The bridge was opened by Prince Albert on 2 May 1859.
By 1890, the stretch of line between Hemerdon and Rattery was one of the few remaining sections which had not been double tracked. Tenders for the vast undertaking would also see the discontinuance of broad gauge in favour of standard gauge, or narrow gauge as it was referred to then. Between 1876 and 1890 a large proportion of the Great Western Railway had already been converted to the standard gauge so this had become a necessary requirement. Passengers were told that the alterations to the line would offer ‘considerable benefit in the form of extra trains and notably later ones.’
A new railway station was also contemplated for Ivybridge which was to be located a little further down the line to avoid the steep hill which passengers had to currently negotiate. In conjunction with these changes, a new branch line was also to be constructed between Brent Station and Kingsbridge.
Messrs. S. Pearson and Sons of Victoria St, Westminster, were contracted by Great Western Railway to undertake the reconstruction and doubling of the main line. Engineers staked out the direction of the line deliberately avoiding gradients where possible. This resulted in some deviations from the previous line with some of the awkward curves straightened. The longitudinal sleepers used on the broad gauge line were removed and cross sleepers laid in their place, as was now the norm.
The double tracking to the west of Ivybridge viaduct was completed on 11 June 1893 and from the far side of the viaduct to the east, a 3½ mile section from Wrangaton to Ivybridge, on 13 August 1893 with ‘the arrangements for “slewing” well planned, and carried out by around 200 workmen in rather less than five hours.”
The branch line to Kingsbridge was opened in December 1893 and Wrangaton Railway Station which had been renamed Kingsbridge Road Station shortly after opening, reverted to its original name on the same day.

IVYBRIDGE RAILWAY STATION

Ivybridge Railway Station was opened on 15th June 1848. The building was situated on the north side of the track, immediately to the west of Ivybridge Viaduct.
The main station building was a chalet-style structure with round-headed windows and an overhanging roof. Access to the platforms was along aptly named Station Road or via steeply inclined steps located close to the viaduct. From the platform, travellers enjoyed an almost panoramic view of Ivybridge.
A visitor is 1904 describes the scene at Ivybridge Station
at Ivybridge, the traveller sees nothing but a tidy little station, with a steep background of laurel bushes and ivy-clad pines, and away in the fertile valley, far below, a little grey town, with an undulating expanse of green, wooded country beyond it… From the station, descending at once, a long flight of steps cut out of a laurel-clad bank, and passing under one of the high arches of the graceful aerial viaduct which spans the Erme Valley, one follows a shady road, with stately mansions, fronted by soft, green lawns gay with rhododendron blooms on one hand and on the other the Erme babbling among its mossy boulders. In a few minutes one reaches the bridge from which the little town takes its name.
Rail travel was affordable for everyone and was a popular means of travel with first, second and third class carriages. In 1844 the Railway Regulation Act stipulated that passengers in third class must be sheltered from the elements and be provided with seats.
The replacement viaduct which was brought into use to allow the joining up of the double-track sections forced the construction of a new westbound, down platform due to the new alignment. The up platform was widened and this left the building set back at an odd angle to the track.
Apart from the normal passenger trains a number of more unusual trains passed through Ivybridge. On the morning of 9th May 1904 the ‘City of Truro’ became the first steam locomotive to exceed 100 mph. At random intervals Ivybridge was also visited by trains known as ‘farm specials’ – effectively farms on the move – with livestock, fodder, machinery, working horses, the farmer and his family and the farm hands all moving from one part of the country to another, following the farm sales. Regular stops for milking, feeding, watering and mucking out were all planned. Other special trains called at Ivybridge to pick up supplies of the specialist paper produced at Stowford Mill.
After World War II, with the rail network in a severely poor state of repair, it was nationalised as British Railways. The line at Ivybridge was handed over to British Railways (Western Region) at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1947. Britain was entering a phase of economic recovery and with petrol rationing at an end, car ownership began to grow rapidly, in stark contrast to the deteriorating viability of the railways. To address the problem British Railways embarked upon a ‘Modernisation Plan’ aimed at improving capacity, reliability and safety and make services more attractive to passengers and freight operators. Measures included electrification of main lines, replacement of steam locomotives by modern diesel alternatives, new passenger and freight rolling stock and the closure of several lines. By the end of the decade British Railways announced the closure of passenger services at several local stations including Plympton, Cornwood, Ivybridge, Bittaford and Wrangaton.  On 2 March 1959 all passenger services at Ivybridge ceased and the railway station was demolished during the next decade.

IVYBRIDGE RAILWAY STATION GOODS YARD

The original goods shed at Ivybridge Railway Station was replaced on 1 October 1911 by a new facility further west accessed via Langham Levels. The red brick goods shed was accompanied by cattle loading pens and coal wharves. It was very busy place regularly receiving and despatching goods. It became the distribution centre for heavy goods and parcels of the postal service, serving the southern parts of the South Hams.
With the railway network continuing to deteriorate, a new radical solution was urgently required. In 1963, Richard Beeching, Chairman of the British Railways Board produced a report entitled ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’, commonly referred to as ‘The Beeching Report’. This identified uneconomic routes and recommended widespread closure of railway stations across Britain as well as the scrapping of goods wagons. On 29 November 1965 the goods yard at Ivybridge was unable to avoid the ‘Beeching Axe’ and was closed for good, with local man Tom Pettifer locking up for the very last time. It did however continue as a china clay distribution point receiving locally sourced china clay from Lee Moor by road transport.
After 35 years without a railway station at Ivybridge, on 15 July 1994 , a replacement was opened just a mile away from the original site on the east side of the viaduct. In order to fit into the narrow site, the station platforms were staggered. With a large car park offering a park and ride, the intention was to encourage car drivers to switch to rail transport.