South Devon Railway locomotives

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4-4-0ST Heron as rebuilt in 1872

South Devon Railway locomotives were broad gauge locomotives that operated over the South Devon Railway, Cornwall Railway, and West Cornwall Railway in England. They were, at times, operated by contractors on behalf of the railways.


1846 Great Western Railway[edit]

The South Devon Railway was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to be operated by atmospheric power, but this was not a success and so the Great Western Railway provided steam locomotives when the railway first opened.Two High Foundry locomotives were specially named for working on the line, Snake and Viper became Exe and Teign during their sojourn in Devon.

Other locomotives were used including members of the Fire Fly, Leo, and Sun classes, and also Hercules class goods locomotives.

Two tank locomotives, Corsair and Brigand were specially designed by Daniel Gooch with innovative bogies to cope with the sharp curves on the railway. These were known as the Bogie class.

1851 Evans and Geach[edit]

Brunel selected Edward Evans and Charles Geach to supply and operate a new fleet of tank locomotives designed by Gooch. These were supplied by Evans' Haigh Foundry and other builders. Payments were made for working the trains and interest, and various excess charges could also be raised for extra workings. The railway provided engine sheds and were allowed to buy the locomotives at the end of the ten-year contract, which started on 3 June 1851.

1859 Evans, Walker and Gooch[edit]

A new seven-year contract took effect from 1 July 1859, now signed by Edward Evans, Thomas Walker and Daniel Gooch. The terms were considered to be more beneficial to the railway. The locomotive fleet grew to allow the South Devon Railway to operate a number of independent branches: the South Devon and Tavistock Railway (1859), Dartmouth and Torbay Railway (1859), and the Launceston and South Devon Railway (1865).

A separate contract was signed with the same contractors to provide locomotives to the Cornwall Railway, which had opened on 4 May 1859.

1866 South Devon Railway[edit]

The South Devon Railway bought the locomotives when the contract ended on 1 July 1866 and took over their operation. The Cornwall Railway locomotives were also sold to the South Devon Railway, and further locomotives were provided for the West Cornwall Railway. The locomotives were operated as a common fleet throughout the three railways, but the locomotives were separately accounted for by each railway.

The number of lines operated increased further with the opening of the Moretonhampstead and South Devon Railway (1866), and the Buckfastleigh, Totnes and South Devon Railway (1871). The Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway was also provided with locomotives for a short time when it opened in 1869.

1876 Great Western Railway[edit]

The South Devon Railway was amalgamated into the Great Western Railway on 1 February 1876 and so the whole locomotive fleet was transferred, including those on the Cornwall and West Cornwall railways. They were allocated numbers 2096 to 2179. As the older locomotives were withdrawn they were replaced by more modern locomotives but those for the Cornish fleets continued to be separately accounted for.

The new owners enabled some changes in operation to happen, notably the operation of tender locomotives west of Exeter, such as the well-known Rovers.

Locomotive sheds[edit]

The main locomotive workshops were established at Newton Abbot, initially under W. F. Gooch, Daniel's brother, but from 1864 the superintendent was John Wright. Other depots were situated at:

Equipment was provided for some heavier repairs on the Cornwall Railway at Truro and was moved to Falmouth when the line was extended to that town. The West Cornwall Railway had established workshops at Carn Brea which were transferred to the South Devon Railway with their locomotives.

Locomotive types[edit]

Alphabetical list of locomotives[edit]

A to E[edit]


F to L[edit]


L to P[edit]

R to Z[edit]


  • Waters, Laurence (1999). The Great Western Broad Gauge. Hersham: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-2634-3. 
  • Beck, Keith; Copsey, John (1990). The Great Western in South Devon. Didcot: Wild Swan Publications. ISBN 0-906867-90-8. 
  • The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, Part 2: Broad Gauge. Rugeley: The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society. 1953. ISBN 0-901115-32-0. 
  • Gregory, R H (1982). The South Devon Railway. Salisbury: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-286-2. 
  • Railway company records at The National Archives including:
    • RAIL 134/46 Agreement for supply of locomotive power with Evans, Walker and Gooch 1859
    • RAIL 134/107 Award of arbititrator between CR and Evans & Co 1867
    • RAIL 257/19 Cornwall Railway agreements, correspondence etc. 1859–1880
    • RAIL 631/84 Valuation of locomotives, rolling stock, machinery, tools etc.
    • RAIL 631/478 Agreement for joint working, with locomotive engines, of SDR, CR, and WCR 1867