Well today (17th August 2017) I have been exploring a part of Dartmoor, which has proved extremely interesting, from the railway perspective.
For a while, I have been aware of an intact military railway, near Okehampton, so with stout walking shoes, maps and of course, Google Earth, off I went, noting the weather was fine and no risk of mist!
The Row Tor military target railway, is possibly known to the members of the Cornwall Railway Society, but I couldn’t find mention of it on your wonderful website, so I have set about trying to piece a few photographs and some history, which your members could add to or verify.
Finding the railway, proved initially difficult, it is not marked on my ageing ordnance survey map ( so old in fact, that the railway was still shown as open to Halwill and Tavistock!)
Eventually after walking four miles in the wrong direction, I luckily met a dog walker, who was able to correct my terrible map reading and pointed me in the right direction.
The first clue that I was nearby, came when I stumbled over four wooden gun emplacements, but still no railway.
In the distance I noticed a long embankment and a stone mound. Now I was told by the dog walker not to pick anything up whilst on the firing range and I did note some rather military looking objects in the heather, so ignoring them I pressed on, for about half a mile. On reaching the embankment, I hit gold for there was the railway, stretching out in front of me, fully intact.
From the pictures you will see that the embankment, is in fact protecting the railway from gun fire. Their were four sets of points, the rails I judge were 2 foot or 600mm apart and laid on a mixture of metal and wooden sleepers.
The railway has a loop at each end allowing for continuous running.
A building at the west end, heavily fortified, had contained two Wickham Type R1389 Target Trolleys, powered by a twin cylinder J Arthur Prestwick aircooled engine, one of which, No 3236, from my search, had been removed for preservation on the 9th September 2010.
Recently there had been a TV item which mentioned that the other Wickman Trolley had also been removed.
I believe as recently as 2005/6 the railway had been operational, but can find little information on this, hopefully your members can fill in some gaps.
Over the coming days I will sort out some more pictures and anymore information that I can dig out.
Best wishes Andrew 'Bang on Target' Andrew, very interesting - we look forward to your future discoveries. Many thanks.
See also Wikipedia http hen.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rowtor_Target_Railway