Dartmouth Steam Railway

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Dartmouth Steam Railway
Saltern Cove - 7820 up service.JPG
LocalePaignton, Devon, England
Commercial operations
NameKingswear branch
Built byDartmouth and Torbay Railway
Original gauge7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm) Brunel gauge
until 1892
Preserved operations
Operated byDart Valley Railway Limited
Length6.7 miles (10.8 km)
Preserved gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
1864Line completed
1892Converted to 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preservation history
1972Sold to Dart Valley Railway
1981Turntable moved to Churston
2011Heritage Festival marking 150 years of the line reaching Churston
2012Greenway Halt opens to the Public
2012New station building at Paignton opens

The Dartmouth Steam Railway, formerly known as the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway, is a 6.7-mile (10.8 km) heritage railway on the former Great Western Railway branch line between Paignton and Kingswear in Devon, England. Much of the railway's business is from summer tourists from the resorts of Torbay, who travel to Kingswear, where the Dartmouth Passenger Ferry takes them across the River Dart to Dartmouth.

The line is owned and operated by Dart Valley Railway Limited. This company also owns Dart Pleasure Craft Limited, which operates the Dartmouth Passenger Ferry as well as river and coastal cruises.[1][2] The railway and connecting boat and bus services are jointly promoted as the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company.

Unusually amongst heritage railways, it is a commercial operation which does not rely on volunteer labour or charitable donations, although a few volunteers help at Churston railway station.


Kingswear branch[edit]

A British Rail Class 103 at Kingswear in 1972

The line was built by the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway, opening to Brixham Road station on 14 March 1861 and on to Kingswear on 10 August 1864.[3] The Dartmouth and Torbay Railway was always operated by the South Devon Railway and was amalgamated with it on 1 January 1872. This was only short-lived as the South Devon Railway was in turn amalgamated into the Great Western Railway on 1 February 1876. Brixham Road became a junction and was renamed "Churston" on 1 January 1868 when the independent Torbay and Brixham Railway opened its short line.[4] There were level crossings at Sands Road, Paignton, Tanners Road, Goodrington and on the approach to the Dartmouth Higher Ferry.

A new halt, less than one coach long, was opened on 18 October 1877 at the level crossing leading to the Dartmouth Higher Ferry, named Kingswear Crossing Halt, or later, Britannia Halt, for the Prince of Wales to bring his sons to enter the naval college based on HMS Britannia, which was moored close by on the river.[5] In later years, the halt was used mainly by workers travelling to the Philip and Sons shipyard at Noss. In Heritage Railway times, the cost of maintenance could not be justified, and it was demolished.

The line was single-track except for a crossing loop at Churston. It had been built using the 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad gauge, but on 21 May 1892 was converted to 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge. There were masonry viaducts at Broadsands, Hookhills and Greenway. South of Greenway Tunnel the railway was originally carried across two creeks on low timber viaducts, that at Longwood being 200 yards (183 m) long and Noss being 170 yards (155 m). These were demolished after the line was moved inland around the creeks on 20 May 1923. This also allowed the expansion of the Philip and Son shipyard between the creeks, to which a siding was opened in 1929. Authorisation was given by the GWR board to double the line from Greenway Viaduct to Britannia Halt, and the deviation was built to double track width, but the doubling was never undertaken. There was a further timber viaduct at Waterhead Creek, Kingswear, which was replaced by a double track concrete and steel viaduct in 1928, after which the heaviest locomotives could be used on the whole line. A turntable and an engine shed were provided at Kingswear. The shed was demolished in 1929, when the platform was extended to its present length of 850 ft (260 m).[6]

A station was opened at Goodrington Sands, south of Paignton, on 9 July 1928. Approval was also given for a second halt at Broadsands, and there has been considerable debate as to whether it was actually built. C.R. Potts seems to have settled this with new evidence to show that it was not built.[7] Park Sidings opened alongside Paignton Station in 1930 to give more room to stable carriages. A goods depot opened south of the station the following year, and the running line was doubled as far as Goodrington Sands.[3]

The Great Western Railway was nationalised into British Railways on 1 January 1948. Further carriage sidings to handle the heavy traffic on summer Saturdays were opened at Goodrington in 1956, when the road bridge on Tanners Road, started before the Second World War, was completed and the level crossing abolished. A turntable was brought into use there in the following year.

The Reshaping of British Railways report (the "Beeching Report") was published by the British Railways Board in 1963. It included the results of a survey which listed stations in three categories by annual income: Red (up to £5000); Blue (£5000 to £25000); and Green: (over £25000). Paignton was in the Green category, with Goodrington Sands, Churston, Kingswear and Dartmouth stations all in the Blue category. Brixham was in the Red category. As a result, the line was not proposed for closure, although it was shown as being subject to "modification".

Except in peak season, most train services from 18 April 1966 operated as a shuttle service from Paignton; Sunday trains were withdrawn from 24 September 1967, although some were run during the summer of the following year. The Brixham branch closed on 13 May 1963 and the crossing loop at Churston was closed on 20 October 1968.[8]

Heritage railway[edit]

Regular steam locomotive GWR 2-8-0T Class 42xx No. 4277 'Hercules' runs round the train at Kingswear

In 1968 it was formally proposed to the Ministry of Transport that the line from Paignton should be closed entirely, with costs given as £54,500 and income as £17,100 exclusive of income from arriving passengers. However, a letter from the Divisional Manager at Bristol to the Regional Headquarters at Paddington on 11 December 1968 gave the contributory revenue as £54,000, so showing a profit of £16,600.[9] The Transport Users Consultative Committee approved the closure subject to suitable replacement bus services being available, but the closure was not proceeded with at that point. During 1971/2, talks were conducted between British Rail Western Region and Dart Valley Light Railway Ltd. about the possibility of a sale from the former to the latter. BR gave the losses as £47,000, although there was still no allowance for contributory revenue. The line was officially closed on 28 October 1972, but BR ran a diesel multiple unit service on behalf of DVLR, subsidised by Devon County Council.

On 30 December 1972, the line was sold to the Dart Valley Light Railway Ltd, which at that time operated the nearby heritage railway that subsequently became the South Devon Railway. A winter service was operated from 1 January 1973, principally for the children at Churston Grammar School. There were two early morning services and two afternoon services. These were soon supplemented by a midday service each way, as the locomotive and stock were otherwise unemployed, but from the end of that summer it became a purely seasonal operation. The purchase price of the railway was £250,000 and a further £25,000 was paid for signalling alterations at Paignton. Most of this was recouped from the sale of surplus land, mainly at Goodrington, which was subsequently developed as flats, and at Kingswear, which became a marina. The Royal Dart Hotel at Kingswear was sold later.[10] British Rail retained ownership of the line from south of Queen's Park station to a point adjacent to the end of the sidings at Goodrington, including the station, which was operated under a running powers agreement, and which was acquired by the DVR Company in 2000.[11] A short section at and just south of the Sands Road level crossing at Paignton remains the property of Network Rail.

An independent station alongside the main station at Paignton, known as "Queens Park", was opened to serve the Kingswear trains on the site of the old Park Sidings. The line was initially marketed as the "Torbay Steam Railway",[3] but this was changed to the "Torbay and Dartmouth Railway", then to the "Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway" and then to the "Dartmouth Steam Railway", part of the overall "Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company" title. It remains the property of The Dart Valley Railway Limited (the "Light" having been dropped in 1999,and ceasing to be a plc in 2018).[citation needed]

The summer service in 1973 featured the locomotive LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman on four days per week, newly returned from its financially disastrous sojourn in the United States. Trains commenced at 07:28 from Paignton, and the last returned at 22:03 at the height of the season. In 1974 the service was reduced to six trains each way. 1974 was a bad year for the company financially and further retrenchment to four trains each way, together with an appeal for volunteer workers, was needed in 1975. After this, some summer trains had to be lengthened to ten or more coaches, and the passing loop at Churston was reinstated.[citation needed]

The loop was reinstated at Churston in 1979 using colour-light signals, controlled by a new signal box on the original site, and made possible an hourly service in the peak season. On Saturdays, there were many passengers for holiday camps in the Brixham area, and three trains were run between Paignton and Churston only. In 1981 the turntable from the British Rail sidings at Goodrington was moved to Churston, to the north of the station, aligned on the old Brixham branch. In 1991 the control of all signalling was moved to a new panel at Britannia Crossing near Kingswear. A locomotive workshop was opened at Churston in 1993 and a carriage shop opened there three years later. A new level crossing just to the north of Kingswear to serve the Darthaven Marina, controlled from the Britannia signal box with the aid of closed-circuit television, was opened on 24 January 1993.[12]

In 2007 the passing loop at Goodrington Sands was reinstated, along with the carriage sidings to give more space for storing rolling stock. In 2011 new offices for the railway and boats were opened at Kingswear in the style of a large GWR-style signal box. The following year saw the Dartmouth Steam Railway's station at Paignton rebuilt in GWR style, and a new unstaffed station opened at Greenway Halt to serve Agatha Christie's Greenway Estate. This is a request stop. Goodrington Sands became a request stop for the winter timetable only in 2016, but remains a compulsory stop at other times.


The Dart Valley Railway Company Ltd was formed initially to purchase the trackbed and station sites of the Totnes to Ashburton line, which is now known as the South Devon Railway. On 30 December 1972, the Paignton to Dartmouth line was also sold to the Dart Valley Railway Company Ltd by the Ministry of Transport.

In 2010, the South Devon Railway Trust bought the freehold of the Totnes to Ashburton line from what was the Dart Valley Railway plc, on 8 February 2010. Until 2016, a Channel Islands-based businessman was the major shareholder in the plc company, until he sold his entire 29.99% share holding [13] to businessman and steam railway enthusiast, Jeremy Hosking.[14] The company ceased to be a plc on 29th November 2018.


The operational base is at Paignton, where an engine shed, used for storage, light repairs and heavy coach repairs, is part of the station buildings. Coaling and watering facilities are located on a spur siding where steam locomtives are stabled between duties.

Heavy overhauls of locomotives are undertaken at Churston where there is a locomotive workshop on the west side of the line, and a paint shop and turntable on the east side. Churston is also the company bus depot. There is a maintenance facility, used for the company's fleet of buses, on the west side of the line.

Signalling is by electric multiple-aspect signals using Track Circuit Block controlled from a panel at Britannia Crossing. No tokens are normally in use. The level crossing at that site is supervised by the signalman at the panel, but that at Sands Road, just outside Paignton station, is operated locally by the train crew.

All stations except Greenway Halt have booking offices and catering and shop facilities, but those at Goodrington Sands and Churston are only open at busy times and tickets are issued on the train most of the time.

The steam railway also operates the number 100 bus service between Paignton, Goodrington Sands and Totnes, calling at Steamer Quay and the town centre. Some of the buses are open-top and are used regularly in the Summer, offering a connection with the railway and boat services on the river Dart and out to sea. These also include the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society's Kingswear Castle which operates on the river Dart in conjunction with the steam railway along with the rest of the company's river boats and ferries. In the peak season, the NT1 bus service is operated between Churston station yard, Greenway Halt and the entrance to the drive of Greenway House in connection with the train service.

The railway runs steam trains every day of their main operating season which is normally between April and November with additional low season running in February, March, November and December. The normal composition is seven coaches, this being the maximum length which can be handled at Paignton without shunting using a diesel shunter. Diesel haulage is provided only in emergencies when no steam locomotive is available due to failure, or as an addition to the published timetable on special occasions, such as the annual beer festival.

There is a Christmas Train of lights in December top and tailed by steam locomotives.


Map this section's coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML
Dartmouth Steam Railway
222-07 Paignton (Queens Park)
Sands Road
Goodrington Carriage Sidings
Network Rail
222-66 Goodrington Sands
Broadsands Viaduct
Broadsands Halt
Hookhill Viaduct
225-04 Churston
Greenway Halt
Greenway Tunnel (
495 yd
453 m
Greenway Viaduct
over River Dart
Britannia Halt
Britannia Crossing
228-64 Kingswear

The route is described facing forwards from Paignton to Kingswear, which puts the sea on the left and the River Dart on the right.

Greenway Tunnel

The line is 6 miles and 57 chains long (10.8 km)[15] and starts from its own platform at Paignton (also known as Paignton Queens Park). The shed for operational locomotives is built into the south end of the station building, although coaling is done at the north end alongside the entrance used by passengers. Immediately beyond the station the line crosses Sands Road on a level crossing. The second track, on the right, is used by GWR and CrossCountry to access the Network Rail carriage sidings. There is a crossover between the two lines that allows trains from Network Rail infrastructure to run through onto the steam railway. This is normally used by mainline railtours which run on the steam railway to Kingswear. Opposite the Network Rail carriage sidings on the right is a siding built by the steam railway to store engineering equipment, but now mostly redundant, since the sidings alongside Goodrington Sands station were acquired. The train now calls at Goodrington Sands station (formerly Halt). Behind the platform to the right are more sidings which were transferred to the steam railway in 2007. There are two platforms at Goodrington Sands, which can also act as a passing station, although all normal trains are timetabled to pass at Churston.

At the Halt the line starts its climb up a steep gradient (initially 1 in 71, easing slightly to 1 in 93 and then rising to 1 in 60 before levelling out just before Churston[16]) behind the beach huts that line Goodrington Beach. The 630 miles (1,014 km) South West Coast Path follows alongside the line on the right. As the train passes Goodrington Sands, Saltern Cove and Broadsands, panoramic views of the UNESCO Global Geopark geology are seen. After a small headland the train passes the secluded Saltern Cove (a site of special scientific interest for its geology and marine biology) and Armchair Rock, then swings inland to the right to pass over first the 72 yards (66 m) Broadsands Viaduct and then swings to the left over the 148 yards (135 m) Hookhills Viaduct before reaching the line's summit at Churston. The last half mile to Churston is particularly difficult in operation, as it has the steepest gradient, is on a sharp curve, and is situated in a cutting which is often damp. On the approach to the station the turntable and sidings are seen on the left; this is where the Brixham branch line used to join the Kingswear branch. The paint shop to the left is on the site of the former Brixham bay platform. The main locomotive workshop is on the right, behind the second platform. This is where trains normally pass.

From here the line drops down, gently at first (1 in 132, then level) before steepening to 1 in 77 at the Kennels Lane bridge, passing under Greenway Road and joining the stream in Hook Bottom, with Brim Hill to the right and passing Greenway Halt on the right-hand side. Shortly after the Halt the gradient eases to 1 in 100 as the train passes through the 495-yard long Greenway Tunnel. On leaving the tunnel, the gradient steepens to 1 in 66 and the River Dart appears on the right as the train passes over Greenway Viaduct. The line continues at 1 in 66 through Long Wood, a National Trust property. The line turns to the east as it leaves the original course, which continues straight on in a cutting, with a hut on the track bed. It then swings to the west over the embankment built in the early 1920s across Longwood Creek. The Noss Marina can be seen on the right. Once down to nearly river level the trees are left behind as the original course is regained. The train passes over Britannia Crossing, a level crossing over the A379 road as it approaches the Dartmouth Higher Ferry. It is from the signal box here that the signalling for the whole line is controlled. Between this point and Kingswear, the line was built mostly on the shore of the river, is accompanied by a footpath on the right, and isolates a bay on the left, formerly known as Ballast Cove. After this, there is a long siding on the left, and shorter sidings on the right which are also crossed by the Hoodown Crossing, which gives access to the Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority workshop on the right, and to a road on the north side of Waterhead Creek. After crossing the Waterhead Viaduct across Waterhead Creek, the line swings to the right and the bay platform line is seen on the left. The Marina Crossing is then crossed and the platform is reached as the line arrives at Kingswear station. A long bridge carrying the footpath crosses the whole station site. The far end of the platform is covered by an umbrella roof and then a wooden train shed, a Grade 2 listed structure, in the style favoured by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, although he died more than four years before the station was built. The boat- and car-park alongside the station is part of Darthaven Marina and was once a busy rail-served quayside goods yard.

The ferry across the Dart to Dartmouth leaves from the pontoon which is next to the station. Dartmouth railway station is unique in that it has never seen a train as passengers have always arrived at the station by means of the ferry from Kingswear. This Grade 2 listed building is now a restaurant, booking facilities for boats and trains being provided at kiosks on The Embankment.

Rolling stock[edit]

Steam locomotives[edit]

Locomotive Type Photograph Status Livery Notes
2253 Omaha USATC S160 2-8-0 Paignton - USATC 2253.JPG Operational Canadian Pacific plum 2253 was built by Baldwin locomotives and brought to the UK in May 1943, where she was loaned to the LNER and operated out of Neville Hill depot in Leeds. Following D-Day she was returned to the USATC Stock and went to France where she assisted with the allied advancement that ended World War 2. After the War she was sold to the Polish State Railway and became TR2003-288, and entered service on the Polish network. In 1992 she was purchased for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, where she entered service and performed for a full 10 years until withdrawal for a boiler overhaul in 2002. Unpopular with crews, the locomotive was sold to Peter Best in 2013, and was cosmetically restored for a World War 2 display at the Locomotion Museum in Shildon.

After the end of this display she was moved to Northern Steam Engineering where Peter Best's team began restoring her. Completed in early 2019 she was moved to NYMR for running-in purposes, where she was unveiled in a new plum livery loosely based on Canadian Pacific colours, and named “Omaha” in memory of D-Day veterans who landed on Omaha Beach – including Peter Best's father. She then spent a period on hire at the Churnet Valley Railway before moving to Paignton as a resident locomotive from February 2020 onwards. Boiler certificate expires in 2028.

3803 GWR 2884 Class 2-8-0 3803 South Devon Railway (2).jpg Stored awaiting overhaul BR black After spending time in store on the South Devon Railway where it used to work, it was moved to this line in early 2022.
4247 GWR 4200 Class 2-8-0T GWR 4247 at Toddington.JPG Awaiting Overhaul at East Somerset Railway BR Black Built at Swindon as a 4200 in 1916, but converted to 5205 specification with outside steam pipes but maintaining the straight footplate. It left Barry in April 1985 and is the oldest survivor of its class in preservation marking its centenary in Mar 2016. Taken out of service in early 2019 the loco was stored in the shed at Bodmin Parkway. Decided in early 2022 to move to the Dartmouth Steam Railway due to a weight limit at Bodmin. Overhaul to scheduled at the East Somerset Railway in 2022 after which it is intended to move to the Dartmouth Steam Railway for 20 years.
7827 Lydham Manor GWR 7800 Class 4-6-0 Paignton Sands Road - 7827 down train.JPG Undergoing overhaul BR lined black Built in 1950 at Swindon Works, 7827 was first allocated to Chester. During February 1954 tests to improved draughting were conducted. By March 1959 it was at Oswestry but in October 1965 it was withdrawn from Shrewsbury. Acquired by Woodhams' in May 1966 and was the fifth locomotive to be rescued from their scrapyard in Barry, which it left in June 1970. It was restored by the Dart Valley Railway in 1973. The boiler certificate expired in 2020.
75014 Braveheart BR Standard Class 4 4-6-0 75014 climbing away from Goodrington.JPG Operational BR lined black Built in 1951 at Swindon Works, 75014 was allocated to a number of Midland region sheds during its short life and 1964 saw it allocated to Shrewsbury from where it was withdrawn and sent to Barry scrap yard in December 1966. It was bought for preservation in 1981 and a four-man syndicate based on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway brought it back to steam in 1994. During a stint operating The Jacobite service it was temporarily named Braveheart after the Mel Gibson film. It was sold by then owner Bert Hitchen to the Dartmouth line in 2002 and renamed Braveheart. It returned to traffic in December 2016 for the railways Santa special trains. The boiler certificate expires in 2026.
4277 Hercules GWR 4200 Class 2-8-0T GWR 4200 Class 4277 Hercules.jpg Operational BR Black 4277 was built in 1920 at Swindon Works and allocated Works number 2857. It spent most of its working life in South Wales on freight trains and was withdrawn in 1964 from Aberbeeg Shed (BR shed code 86H). It was moved to Woodhams' scrapyard in Barry shortly after withdrawal and remained there for 20 years until 1986 when it was privately purchased. In 2008 it was sold to the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway. Returned to service following overhaul in July 2022.
5239 Goliath GWR 5205 Class 2-8-0T Paignton - 5239 (2021).JPG Operational GWR lined green The 5205 class was designed for pulling heavy coal trains in the Welsh Valleys. 5239 was built at Swindon Works in 1923 and was based at Neath for all of its working life until being withdrawn from British Rail service in 1963. It arrived on this line in 1976 and was restored to operating condition in 1978.
4555 Warrior GWR 4500 Class 2-6-2T Totnes Ashburton Junction - 4555.JPG Operational, currently at the East Somerset Railway GWR lined green 4555 was built in 1924 at Swindon Works. It arrived at Dartmouth in 1973 until moved to the East Somerset Railway on loan from March 2020.[17]
4110 GWR 5101 Class 2-6-2T Kingswear - 4110 awaiting restoration.JPG Currently at the East Somerset Railway under restoration N/A 4110 was built in 1936 at Swindon Works. It was rescued from Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry, Glamorgan in 1979 by the Great Western Preservation Group and moved to Southall Railway Centre becoming the 100th locomotive to leave the scrapyard. 4110 later ended up being moved to Tyseley Locomotive Works for restoration, however only a small amount was undertaken before the engine was put on the market to raise funds for another project. 4110 was purchased and moved to the West Somerset Railway in 2015, with the goal being to restore the engine over five years when funding was available alongside space in the workshop at Minehead.

After failing to undertake work on the locomotive by 2018 it was decided to put the engine on the market once again with the agreement that the engine could return to the WSR after being restored. The engine was purchased by the Dartmouth Steam Railway in 2019[18] but in January 2020 was taken to the East Somerset Railway for restoration and will operate there for three years when restored.[19]

Diesel locomotives[edit]

Locomotive Type Photograph Status Livery Notes
D2192 Titan BR Class 03 0-6-0DM Paignton 2192.jpg Operational BR green Based at Churston for shunting work between Churston and Kingswear. It can be seen elsewhere along the line if it is required.
03 371 BR Class 03 0-6-0DM Paignton - 03371 in the carriage siding.JPG Operational BR blue Based at Churston for shunting work.[citation needed] Privately owned but is now based on the Dartmouth line as of February 2015.
D3014 Samson BR Class 08 0-6-0DE Paignton D3014.jpg Operational BR green Purchased from the National Coal Board in 1989. Based at Paignton for shunting work.
D6975 BR Class 37 Co-Co Class 37 Diesel 6975 - English Electric, built 1964 (20763023164).jpg Operational BR blue Built in 1965 at the Vulcan Foundry, D6975 was first allocated to Cardiff Canton and renumbered 37275 in 1974. Following withdrawal in 1999 it was sold into preservation five years later and ended up at the South Devon Railway. In 2018, the locomotive moved to the DSR in exchange for Class 25 No. D7535, as it was considered to be better suited for the heavier trains on the line. Based at Paignton.[20][21]

Formerly on the line[edit]

Locomotive Type Photograph Status Livery Notes
4588 Trojan GWR 4575 Class 2-6-2T Churston 4588 outside workshop.jpg Awaiting overhaul GWR lined green, 'Great Western' Lettering Built in 1927 at Swindon Works, 4588 operated the first services on the railway after BR days on New Year's Eve 1972 and was later named 'Trojan', she was sold in 2015 after being out of service for over a decade. The engine is currently at Tyseley, awaiting overhaul
4920 Dumbleton Hall GWR 4900 Class 4-6-0 Buckfastleigh 4920 display goods train.jpg Static display GWR lined green, 'Great Western' Lettering Built in 1929 at Swindon Works, 4920 was first moved to Buckfastleigh from Woodham Brothers, Barry in June 1976 where restoration work was to take place. Following restoration and running in on the SDR the loco was transferred by rail to Paignton and entered service in 1988 on the then-named Torbay Steam Railway. Following the expiry of the engine's boiler ticket 4920 was returned to the South Devon Railway and placed into storage while awaiting a space in the workshop. It was sold in December 2020 and moved to West Coast Railways Carnforth. The engine has been cosmetically restored and shipped to Japan in January 2022 to be displayed at a new Harry Potter theme park and renamed Hogwarts Castle.[22]
6412 GWR 6400 Class 0-6-0PT 0-6-0PT 6412 GWR - Built 1934 (21197409460).jpg Operational BR lined green, late BR totem Built in 1937 at Swindon Works, following purchase for preservation it was sold to the Dart Valley Railway arriving under its own power. As well as being used on the Dart Valley Line the engine was also used for a period on the Dartmouth line. The engine was however later deemed as surplus to requirements and was sold to the West Somerset Railway Association and moved under its own power to the West Somerset Railway.

The engine would later be sold on from the WSRA to the South Devon Railway where it is now in use once again following an overhaul.

6435 Ajax GWR 6400 Class 0-6-0PT Minehead - 6435 going to shed.JPG Awaiting overhaul BR lined green, late BR totem Built in 1937 at Swindon Works, after arriving on the line in the early 1970s GWR 6400 Class number 6435 was sold to the Bodmin and Wenford Railway in 2008. Despite her small size, the engine regularly hauled the usual 7 coach trains on this very steeply graded line. The engine is currently operational but no-longer carries the name Ajax.
D7535 Mercury BR Class 25 Bo-Bo Paignton Station, No. D7535 "Mercury" - geograph.org.uk - 225014.jpg Operational BR Blue Mainly used in the winter months for engineering trains but does operate passenger services on selected days during the season. It can also sometimes be found assisting charters from the mainline for either support with the gradients or to help shunt the coaching stock once at Kingswear. In later years with British Rail its number was changed from D7535 to 25185. The locomotive left the railway in September 2018, moving to the South Devon Railway in exchange for Class 37 No. D6975.[20][21]
71000 Duke of Gloucester beside the River Dart

Other locomotives visit the railway, either to supplement the railway's own fleet or to bring in special trains from the national rail network. However, the most frequent source of visiting locomotives is the Torbay Express, which runs from Bristol Temple Meads on selected Sundays from June through to September, and other one-off railtours which run to Kingswear. Locomotives that have made a visit to Kingswear include 5029 Nunney Castle, 5051 Earl Bathurst, 6024 King Edward I, 7802 Bradley Manor, 34046 Braunton, 46100 Royal Scot, 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, 60019 Bittern, 60163 Tornado, 70000 Britannia and 71000 Duke of Gloucester.


Devon Belle Pullman Observation Car

The railway has a fleet of 21 coaches with 19 available for service and a further two coaches have been refurbished for special purposes detailed below.

Eleven of the coach fleet are British Railways Mark 1 corridor coaches, 8 TSOs, 2 BSKs and a BSO. The livery of the carriages is a version of the former GWR "chocolate and cream" livery and most carry an attractive sounding name, with a few carrying the name of either a female member of staff, or the name of a member of staff's child or grandchild. The brake carriages have had their former luggage vans converted to wheelchair accommodation, and are run adjacent to standard coaches which have also been modified for this purpose. A few coaches have toilets, but most toilets have been removed to make way for accommodation for pushchairs and other luggage.

A Pullman observation saloon, originally built for the Devon Belle service (No.13), is used regularly on passenger services. It provides a unique view of the railway, although an additional charge is made to ride in it. It was refurbished in 2012 and put back into original Pullman livery. It was out of service in 2017 while it was given a heavy overhaul.

The rest of the coaches are former British Rail DMU class 116 and 117 trailer cars with open saloons. Seven of these are used on the trains. The eighth DMU trailer, in a special picture livery, is fitted out as an exhibition coach at Kingswear telling the story of the line, its building by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and a brief history of the local area. The other special purpose coach has been modified to act as classrooms for the railway's apprentices, is based at Churston, and is in green livery.


The railway operates a selection of freight wagons. An occasional freight train is run to take coal from the stockpile at Paignton to Kingswear for the PS Kingswear Castle. A short fire extinguishing train is partly sponsored by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service and is held ready to assist in fire extinguishing operations as required, being normally kept at Churston with a diesel shunter attached during dry summer weather. On especially hot and dry days, the fire train checks the length of the line after the day's operations have ceased. Other vehicles are for use in engineering operations and are normally stabled at Goodrington or Churston.


  1. ^ "Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway". Dart Valley Railway plc. Retrieved 18 September 2008.
  2. ^ "River Link - Devon's River Dart Cruises". Dart Pleasure Craft Limited. Archived from the original on 14 September 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2008.
  3. ^ a b c Potts, C R (1998). The Newton Abbot to Kingswear Railway (1844–1988). Oxford: Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-387-7.
  4. ^ Potts, CR (2000). The Brixham Branch. Usk: Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-556-X.
  5. ^ Potts, C.R. The Newton Abbot to Kingswear Railway, 2nd edition, Usk: The Oakwood Press, (2014) ISBN 978 0 85361733 4 p.83
  6. ^ C.R. Potts, 2nd edition (2014) p.175
  7. ^ C.R. Potts, 2nd edition (2014) p.171
  8. ^ Oakley, Mike (2007). Devon Railway Stations. Wimbourne: The Dovecote Press. ISBN 978-1-904349-55-6.
  9. ^ Potts, C.R. (2014). The Newton Abbot to Kingswear Railway (2nd ed.). Usk: Oakwood Press. p. 255. ISBN 978 0 85361 733 4.
  10. ^ DVLR Report and Accounts (Report). 1980. p. 4.
  11. ^ DVR Report and Accounts (Report). 2000. p. 3.
  12. ^ C.R. Potts, 2nd edition (2014) p.263
  13. ^ Dart Valley Railway plc Annual Report 2016, page 6
  14. ^ Steam Railway, page 10, September 2016
  15. ^ Jacobs, Gerald (2005). Railway Track Diagrams Book 3: Western. Bradford-on-Avon: Trackmaps. p. 7. ISBN 0-9549866-1-X.
  16. ^ British Rail - Main Line Gradient Profiles. London: Ian Allan. p. W3. ISBN 0711008752.
  17. ^ "Steam Gala 2020". eastsomersetrailway.com. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  18. ^ https://www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/news/detail/a-joint-statement-on-the-future-of-4110-on-the-wsr Statement by WSR over 4110
  19. ^ Duggan, Jamie (10 January 2020). "Steam locomotive 4110 arrives at the East Somerset Railway for restoration". RailAdvent. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  20. ^ a b "Our Class 25 diesel D5735..." Facebook. 29 September 2018. Archived from the original on 4 December 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  21. ^ a b "November Diesel Gala 2018". South Devon Railway. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Dumbleton Hall for new Harry Potter Japan attraction". The Railway Magazine. No. 1450. January 2022. p. 7.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°22′30″N 3°34′52″W / 50.375°N 3.581°W / 50.375; -3.581