Some of you will remember my friend CBF as a signalman with Railtrack, Network Rail and the South Devon Railway. However in his younger days his ambitions lay elsewhere and in 1962 he was a would-be farmer and living on a farm near the village of East Ogwell, Newton Abbot and studying at Seale Hayne Agricultural College. This explains the first leg of our half-day excursion on the afternoon of Saturday 17 November 1962 which was by car. I drove to East Ogwell from my home in Plymouth up the old A38 via the centre of Plympton, Ivybridge, Bittaford to pick up my friend from the farm. We parked the car at Newton Abbot Station and caught the 1.10pm local train to Exeter which consisted of three coaches hauled by a North British Type 2 diesel loco. We travelled up the Exe Valley line from Exeter to Bampton (Devon) by the train shown in the photos attached and watched it depart back to Exeter without us at 3.20pm SO. On Monday to Friday the train departed at 3.45pm perhaps to suit school times. The suffix Devon to the station name was necessary to distinguish this small town from Bampton in Oxfordshire.
We walked north for two miles from Bampton Station to Morebath Junction Halt on the Taunton to Barnstaple line arriving just before the light faded. This was an interesting rural junction a short distance south of Morebath Village which is on the B3190 16 miles south of Watchet and just a mile outside the boundary of the Exmoor National Park. The village is also just over a mile east of the River Exe which here forms the boundary between Devon and Somerset. Hence the name of the company that built the line from Taunton to Barnstaple, the Devon and Somerset Railway. Morebath Junction Signal Box was directly opposite the fork in the three single lines approaching the box but each line became double for the last few chains. In theory three trains could have approached the junction at the same time but normally the train from Exeter would have arrived first so that it could reach Dulverton and make connection with trains in both directions on the Taunton to Barnstaple Route.
Our train out of the halt was in fact the next train up the Exe Valley line an auto from Exeter at 3.25pm off St Davids but this one went all the way to Dulverton reached at 4.43pm. A half hour at Dulverton saw two trains cross here: 7333 on the 4.10pm from Barnstaple and 6372 on the 4.20pm from Taunton. Quite impressively a dozen passengers alighted from the Taunton train leaving 35 to continue on towards Barnstaple. Both trains connected with our train home which was the 5.15pm auto to Exeter consisting of two auto coaches now being propelled by 1451, another regular on the line. Our train crossed 1442 at Thorverton on the 5.25pm Exeter to Tiverton. With their large picture windows and open saloons it was easy to see, in the dark, that the two auto coaches of the other train were crowded with passengers. On a November evening, with steam heating and in the dark there was only one word to describe the trip – atmospheric and priceless. The half day had cost me ten shillings and six pence in railfares and ten shillings in petrol; about one pound all told; but I only earned about £8 a week at the time.
[ This article has been posted here as a tribute to fellow enthusiast and great friend Charles Fennamore who passed away four years ago on 9 November 2018]
5800/1/2 Below we see three views of the preserved 0-4-2T number 1442 at Bampton Station. The train had arrived at 3.05pm with the 2.08pm from Exeter St. Davids and would depart for Exeter at 3.20pm. The cheap day return for the 21 miles had cost us 4 shillings and 9 pence each and the cost of a gallon of petrol at the time was about five shillings. It will be observed that the home signal had just been painted. The last two pictures were taken at one thirtieth of a second but by the time we reached Morebath Junction Halt it was no longer possible to take photographs.
MLR / 10 November 2022