The story of Friary is the story of the London and South Western Railway's attempts to reach Plymouth in the ninteenth century. Exeter was reached in 1860 and by 1874, Lydford. Plymouth was reached by running powers over the GWR Launceston branch, which was converted to mixed gauge for the purpose. Thus LSWR trains came south through Tavistock and Horrabridge to join the GW main line at Tavistock Junction, thence through Plymouth ( nothing at North Road then) to Devonport Junction and on to a short length of LSW double track to a terminus at Devonport King's Road.
All of this was unsatisfactory for a number of reasons: there were constant delays on the Launceston branch, for instance (The GW had no incentive to speed LSW trains along) and the new joint station at Plymouth North Road, which the Board of Trade had insisted upon, was to be built by the GW, who took their time! The resulting mess at North Road lasted until the 1950s.
The LSWR set up a company to build their own line into Plymouth - the Plymouth, Devonport and south Western Junction Railway - and on 1st June 1890 Devonport King's Road at last became a through station. LSW trains terminated at North Road until the new terminus was ready, built on the site of an earlier goods siding known as Friary Gardens. Friary station opened on 1st July 1891.
Services ran to Exeter and to Plymstock and Turnchapel. The vogue for railmotors in the 1900s saw new halts on the LSW at Camel's Head, Albert Road and Weston Mill. LSW motors also stopped at the GW halts at Lipson Vale and Mount Gould. By the 1920s buses and trams had taken their toll and only two halts survived, both closing in 1942.
Wartime saw a revival of sorts at Friary, with a revived Service on the GW Yealmpton line from Friary.
Postwar austerity was broken by the arrival of the Devon Belle Pullman on 20th June 1947. Like the 'ACE' the Belle ran in many parts. The Plymouth segment (4 Pullmans) ceased to run in 1949.
Friary was, for almost its entire history, conrolled by two signal boxes, A and B. B box was at the platform end and A controlled the station throat, engine shed and junction for Plymstock.
The impending completion of the rebuilding of North Road was the death knell for Friary. Turnchapel had closed in 1951 and there were fewer local services. Besides, the place was now under Western Region management.
Friary closed to passengers on 15th September 1958, the buildings were soon demolished to make way for a freight concentration depot. B box closed in 1962 and A followed in 1966.
Today there is no freight to concentrate. RH 29th June 2022
Regards, Clive Smith
Regards Keith Turley.