Bideford Railway Heritage Centre
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|Bideford Railway Heritage Centre|
|A replica of the original signal box at Bideford Railway Station|
|Original gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Preserved gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Bideford Railway Heritage Centre CIC (previously the Bideford and Instow Railway Group) in Devon, England, is responsible for the management of the Bideford station site. The Company is also responsible for Instow signal box which opens on occasional Sundays and bank holidays from Easter to October.
A railway museum exists in the rebuilt Bideford signal box and also in the green PMV (Parcels and Miscellaneous Van). Short passenger rides were given at Bideford until vandalism temporarily prevented services operating. The site was mothballed shortly afterwards when housing development threatened to encroach on to the trackbed. This threat has now been removed and the company is working on renovating the site and rolling stock, so that services can recommence. The site is accessible from the Tarka Trail and the museum is open when staffing allows.
Former British Railways rolling stock owned by the railway includes a PMV van and a BR standard brake van. A Hibberd Planet diesel locomotive is also present. British Railways Mark 1 coach S4489, owned by Devon County Council but managed by BRHC, is at the station acting as the Tea on the Train cafe for users of the Tarka Trail.
The line was opened from Barnstaple to Fremington in 1848. Passenger trains ran throughout from Barnstaple railway station to Bideford from 2 November 1855 as the Bideford Extension Railway. The line was further extended to Torrington in 1872 when the current Bideford railway station was opened.
Passenger services ceased on 2 October 1965 although ball clay traffic continued until 1982. The track was removed in 1985 after some interest by BR in reintroducing a passenger service to Bideford. The trackbed was later converted into the Tarka Trail, a walkway using the formation between Petrockstow (later the terminus of services after the line was truncated in the 1960s) and Barnstaple Junction.
In 2009, James May attempted to reconnect the former Bideford station with Barnstaple Junction using an OO scale model train as part of James May's Toy Stories. Unfortunately, the last train - a Hornby Class 395 "Javelin", and the prototype model for the production models - burnt out at Instow at 12:18am the day after the trains left Barnstaple at around 3:00pm. In 2011, May returned to complete the challenge with the help of the German model railway attraction Miniature Wonderland, racing several model trains over the 9.89 miles from Barnstaple to Bideford. The first train to arrive at Bideford was a Hornby Intercity 125, followed by a hydrogen-powered train and finally, May's own model of LNER 'Pacific' 4472 Flying Scotsman.
- Other local railway attractions:
- Bideford Railway Heritage Centre Website
- Bideford Railway Museum – Information from Devon County Council
- Entry at Information Britain