Plym Valley Railway

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Plym Valley Railway
Coordinates50°23′42″N 4°04′59″W / 50.395°N 4.083°W / 50.395; -4.083Coordinates: 50°23′42″N 4°04′59″W / 50.395°N 4.083°W / 50.395; -4.083
Commercial operations
NameLaunceston Branch Line
Built bySouth Devon and Tavistock Railway
Original gauge7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm) Brunel gauge
Preserved operations
Length1+12 miles (2.4 km)
Preserved gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
1892converted to
4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm)
Preservation history
2012Extended to Plym Bridge
HeadquartersMarsh Mills

The Plym Valley Railway is a 1+12-mile (2.4 km) heritage railway based on part of the now-closed South Devon and Tavistock Railway, a branch line of the Great Western Railway in Devon, England.


The line was originally part of the South Devon and Tavistock Railway, a 7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm) broad gauge railway linking Plymouth with Tavistock in Devon, England. This opened in 1859, was converted to 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) in 1892 and closed in 1962.

Local enthusiasts set up a group in 1982 to restore part of the line as the Plym Valley Railway. The first section re-opened in May 2008 when trains could operate over 34 mile (1.2 km) of track as far as Lee Moor crossing, the site where the 4 ft 6 in (1,372 mm) gauge Lee Moor Tramway (now the West Devon Way cycle path) used to cross the line on the level. A new station was constructed just north of the site of the original Marsh Mills railway station as that site is occupied by a line that serves the Marsh Mills china clay plant. The new station was provided with a shop, buffet and small museum.

The preserved line was extended to Plym Bridge on 30 December 2012, bringing it to 1+12 miles (2.4 km) in length.

The 0-4-0ST steam locomotive "Albert" returned to service in December 2007 after receiving major repairs to its boiler. Albert has operated on all passenger trains and diesel No. 13002 has been used regularly on engineering trains. In 2009 preparation work commenced on returning 0-6-0ST "Byfield" to steam, seeing the locomotive stripped down to its main components for assessment.


Plym Valley Railway
Plym Bridge Platform
Marsh Mills

The Plym Valley Railway is based at Marsh Mills which is close to the A38 road near Plymouth. It operates trains as far as Plym Bridge.

Rolling stock[edit]

Steam locomotives[edit]

Image Number Builder Type Built To Plym Valley Livery Notes
Marsh Mills Station on the Plym Valley Railway - geograph-4282634.jpg Albert Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST 1948 2004 Works number 2248, this was built for the British Sugar Corporation, and worked at their Worcester and Somerset plants. It was at the Nene Valley Railway and the East Kent Railway before being privately purchased and coming to the Plym Valley Railway. It was sent to Portland for repairs, and returned in 2007.[1] It is currently operational following the completion of its overhaul in June 2021.[citation needed]
Byfield steam-railway.jpg Byfield No. 2 W.G. Bagnall 0-6-0ST 1942 2002 Blue Works number WB2655, this was built in 1942 to help with the war effort in ironstone quarries in Northamptonshire. In 1944 it was transferred to Banbury and was there until 1947 when it was transferred to Kettering, where it was renamed ‘'Loddington No. 2’'. It remained in the area until it was sold to Hunt & Co at Hinckley in 1970 and was painted blue. Byfield was rescued for restoration and use on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway in the 1980s but was withdrawn after its boiler expired in 1990. It was then purchased by the Plym Valley Railway and moved to Marsh Mills where it is having a complete overhaul before it can be used again.[2]
Steam Engine 705 on the Plym Valley Railway.jpg 705 Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST 1937 2011 GWR green Works number 2047 was built for The Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company and was based at the Yoker power station in Glasgow as their number 4. It spent its entire working life there, shunting coal trucks to feed the power station until withdrawn in the 1970s. It was sold to a company who planned to build a railway on the Orkney islands but this scheme failed. It remained stored at the Strathspey Railway until it was purchased by a new owner and moved to the East Somerset Railway where it restoration was completed. It entered service in 1994. It was given the identity of Great Western Railway locomotive 705, the next vacant number after similar locomotives taken over from the Swansea Harbour Trust. It was withdrawn in 2007 and purchased by a Plym Valley Railway member and an overhaul started in 2012. This was finished at Easter 2018 and included turning the tyres, machining the journals, a full re-tube and replacing the foundation ring and the lower section of outer firebox.[3]
5374 Vanguard Fablok TKh49 0-6-0T 2016 This is a Polish steam locomotive which previously operated on the Northampton & Lamport Railway.[4] It is undergoing an overhaul.

Diesel locomotives[edit]

Image Number Class Wheel arrangement Built To Plym Valley Livery Status Notes
D2046 British Rail Class 03 0-6-0DM 1958 2006 Undergoing overhaul D2046 was built at Doncaster Works in 1958 and worked in the North East of England before being withdrawn at Thornaby in 1971 before being renumbered into the TOPS number series. It was sold to Gulf Oil and was used at Waterston Refinery, Milford Haven as their number 2. It was Pembrokeshire to Merthyr Tydfil in 2000 where it was repainted and prepared for sale. By March 2006 it had been moved to Goodman's Yard, Sutton Coldfield, from where it was purchased and moved to the Plym Valley Railway. The locomotive is undergoing mechanical overhaul.[5]
Plym Valley Class 08.jpg 13002 British Rail Class 08 0-6-0DE 1952 1982 BR black Operational This shunter was built at Derby Works, the third Class 08 to be built. Originally numbered 13002, it was renumbered to D3002 in 1960.[6] It worked at Bristol's St Phillip's Marsh and Bath Road depots until 1972. It was then sold to Foster Yeoman and moved to Merehead Quarry in Somerset where it became number 11 Dulcote.[7] The locomotive became surplus to requirements in 1980 so was stored at Gloucester before being sold to the Plym Valley Railway. For many years was the only operational engine on the railway. It is operational in 2019.[8]
Vanguard Thomas Hill 'Vanguard' 0-4-0DH 1983 1990 Blue Circle Cement Yellow Out of service This was the Plymstock Cement Works shunter until 1988 after which it came to the Plym Valley Railway, arriving on 30 March 1990. It's Rolls Royce 6 cylinder engine generates 125 hp (93 kW) and it has four 3 ft 7 in (1,092 mm) wheels.[9][10] It is being repainted into Blue Circle Cement's yellow livery.
Plym Valley Sentinel.jpg Sidney Rolls Royce Sentinel 0-4-0 1961 2015 BR blue Operational Works number 10077 was delivered to Raisby Tarmac Quarry at Coxhoe in County Durham. The Durham Locomotive Preservation Group purchased the locomotive and it was moved Weardale Railway in 2002 and then to the Shildon Locomotion Museum during 2011 before being sold to the Wensleydale Railway in March 2014. It was purchased privately and has moved to the Plym Valley Railway for restoration.[11] It is operational in 2019.

Diesel multiple units[edit]

Image Number Class Livery Status Notes
117 BR green Our two cars (plus centre trailer composite 59517) were based at Southall and worked local services out of London Paddington station. In 1984 they were transferred to St Phillip's Marsh depot as set B427 but two years later was back on London services as L427 based at Reading. The set was transferred to Tyseley in 1989 for services around Birmingham and renumbered T304. It was withdrawn from service in 1992 but the two power cars were put back into service to replace Class 142 in the south west until Class 150 153 units became available. It was purchased by the Plym Valley Railway in 1995 and is currently under both an internal and an external restoration.[12]
Longbeck railway station MMB 09 142023.jpg 142023
142 Northern This BREL/Leyland railbus entered service with British Rail in December 1985 at Plymouth's Laira depot[13] Class 142s in Devon and Cornwall at this time were painted in a Great Western Railway-inspired chocolate and cream livery and known as 'Skippers'. They were all transferred to the North of England where they were known as 'Pacers'. Ours was withdrawn by Northern Rail in 2020 and arrived at the Plym Valley Railway on 26 January 2021.

Former Plym Valley Railway locomotives[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Albert". Plym Valley Railway. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Byfield". Plym Valley Railway. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016.
  3. ^ "705". Plym Valley Railway. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Vanguard 5374 Tkh 0-6-0t Polish Steam Locomotive". Facebook. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  5. ^ "D2046". Plym Valley Railway. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016.
  6. ^ Marsden, Colin J. (2018). "Loco Directory". Modern Locomotives Illustrated. No. 230. Key Publishing. p. 34. ISSN 1756-8188.
  7. ^ Industrial Locomotives 1982. Warley: Industrial railway Society. 1982. p. 144. ISBN 0-901096-44-X.
  8. ^ "13002". Plym Valley Railway. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016.
  9. ^ Mills, Bernard (2013). Backtracking around Friary, Laira and the Plym. Plymouth: Pen & Ink Publishing. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-9569858-4-2.
  10. ^ "Vanguard". Plym *Valley Railway. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016.
  11. ^ "10077". Plym Valley Railway. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Class 117". Plym Valley Railway. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Stocklist". Modern Railways. Vol. 43, no. 449. 1986. p. 107.
  14. ^ Industrial Locomotives (9 ed.). London: Industrial Railway Society. 1991. p. 65. ISBN 0-901096-62-8.
  15. ^ a b c Mills 2013, pp. 148–154
  16. ^ Mills 2013, p. 74