Michael L. Roach.
Plympton Station was 4 miles east of Plymouth Station at the foot of Hemerdon Bank and alongside Boringdon Road. A layby marks the location of the former station buildings and entrance. To the west and the other side of an overbridge carrying Plymbridge Road was the goods yard. Alongside the yard was an important road, now the B3416, but in 1962 it was the A38 and carrying all the trunk road traffic until a bypass was finished some ten years later. In the accompanying photo, which was taken from Meadow View Road looking roughly east, the A38 runs in front of the 2-storey building on the left and past the end of the sheds on the right. The tower is that of St. Mary's Church because this small town was called Plympton St. Mary, although the railway station was always called just Plympton. A short distance to the east and south of the main A38 through the centre of Plympton St. Mary was another town called Plympton St. Maurice. This second town has the ruins of a castle and an ancient grammar school which Sir Joshua Reynolds attended as he was born and brought up here. It is suggested that most people living in Plymouth know little or nothing about Plympton St. Maurice as it is well hidden and one does not pass through it by accident. I knew nothing about the town umtil a school trip there at the age of 9 or 10 years when we visited the castle and the Guildhall.
On the south side of St. Marys Church, and opposite the churchyard, was a cattle market which closed circa 2001. Because it was only a couple of hundred yards from the goods yard it is believed that cattle leaving by rail would have been walked from the market to the goods yard, including holding up the trunk road traffic as they crossed the A38. The photo shows empty cattle wagons on both sides of the main line with the nearest ones in a dead end siding, and the far ones in the goods yard which consisted of two loops and no dead end sidings. The loco that brought in some of the wagons was small prairie 5544 of Laira Shed and in the photo it is departing, to return a few hours later to collect the loaded wagons and take the cattle wagons to Tavistock Junction Yard on the first part of their journey to their new owners. Most small livestock markets have either closed or been relocated to edge-of-town sites (as at Truro). One that survives almost untouched by the passage of time is at Devils Bridge a short distance from the terminus of the Vale of Rheidol narrow gauge railway. Another is at Kington in Herefordshire, a small town near the border with Wales, where the auction mart remains in the centre of the town surrounded by domestic and commercial properties. I have written an article about the sale which took place at Kington Mart on 31 August 1938 (which will be published elsewhere), when no less than 22,000 sheep were auctioned. In the 1930s the railways still reigned supreme in longer distance transport; and for shorter distances the sheep were expected to walk from the farm to the mart and from the mart to their new home; as they were to Kington Railway Station which was on the edge of the town. The Great Western Railway rose to the occasion and provided 200 cattle wagons for the sheep to be hauled away. This would have been a major logistical exercise involving many railwaymen and train movements. Kington was on the single track New Radnor Branch and the largest locos permitted were the 7400-class pannier tanks which could haul 30-wagon trainloads on the branch. However the first train away was of 60 cattle wagons which would have needed to be double-headed
The loco seen at Plympton Goods Yard on 1 March 1962 was small prairie 5544. The loco had arrived at Laira from Truro on 15 July 1961 and was condemned at Laira on 21 September 1962. It was hauled to Cashmore's yard at Newport and scrapped. All my other photos of 5544 were of the loco on passenger trains on the Launceston Branch with the last one being taken on 19 May 1962. In 1962 the eastern boundary of the City of Plymouth ran along the centre of the River Plym at Marsh Mills seen in the photos in Parts 2 and 4 of this series. Plympton came under the jurisdiction of the Plympton St. Mary Rural District Council, but with Local Government Reorganisation on 1 April 1974 the Plympton RDC was abolished and its territory carved up with Plympton going to an enlarged City of Plymouth and the rest, with six other small councils, forming the South Hams District Council centred on Totnes. Plympton Station closed to passengers on and from 2 March 1959 and to goods on and from 1 June 1964. A campaign has been under way for some time to open a new railway station at Plympton. My thoughts on the subject are that if Plympton is to get a new station it should be a parkway style station with a large car park. There could be a suitable site off the B3416 just a half mile east of Tavistock Junction Yard where there are a number of supermarket sheds between the B3416 and the railway and they appear to be little used. With the site being just a mile off a junction on the A38 Devon Expressway the station could serve the northern and eastern sides of Plymouth; West Devon and East Cornwall.
MLR / 6 April 2023
there was also a brake van tour hauled by, it is believed, an 08 loco shunter - this was arranged for a local school. Details would be appreciated...
Well, I was a school boy (age 11/12?) on this train but have no photographs! It was arranged by our Railway Society of Redruth Grammar School. It was so long ago, that’s all I can remember. Not sure if there were two brake vans or just the one. But hopefully knowing it was arranged by my old school, may be a starting point.
All the best, Richard Bevan.
I was on the tour- 1966, I think. I also have a photo, which I bought from the West Briton (they sent a photographer!) but it is buried somewhere in my brother's loft back in blighty.
Also on the trip were Dave Letcher and Phil Hawke, both of whom will not be unknown in CRS circles.
We rounded off the day, I recall, with visits to Truro West and East boxes, all courtesy of Mr Collins, Truro stationmaster.
Greetings from sunny Rangoon (39 celsius as I write), Roy