200 year anniversary
(26th September 1823 – 26th September 2023)
Edward Hooper celebrates the 200th anniversary of this very early railway route.
An exploration of the route by from Sutton Harbour to Princetown, July 2023.
My brother, Tim, and I decided to spend a weekend tracing the route of this lesser known but historically significant tramway from the hustle bustle of Sutton Harbour in Plymouth to the moorland outpost of Princetown.
Anyone who witnessed this interesting railway in operation has long since departed. By 1878 the upper sections of the trackbed had been commandeered by the GWR for the Princetown Branch. In 1916 most of the remainder of the route had been taken up. Few photographs survive of the track, devoid of traffic. The railway carried no locomotives throughout its life and passengers were only carried unofficially.
A good number of photographs featuring horses towing china clay wagons are from the later Lee Moor Tramway and give some idea of what the set up on the P&D may have looked like.
Having traced a fair portion of the route, one can only marvel at the horses and the people who worked this line, especially on the open moorland sections in the typical weather conditions which prevail on Dartmoor.
I have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible with dates and locations, but if I have made any inadvertent errors then please accept my apologies and I have no doubt that some of your more astute readers will set me straight.
Then and now
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66531 1220 Fairwater yard to Fairwater yard via Plymouth 0B36 St Thomas 25 September 2023.jpg
37608 works 0922 Derby to Laira 0V84 25 September 2023.jpg
43156 43098 work the 1250 Penzance to Cardiff Exeter St thomas 25 September 2023.jpg