Plymouth and Devonport to Exeter Railway


Plymouth and Devonport to Exeter Railway Postbridge Whiteworks Hexworthy Powdermills

Postbridge is built and the next three Plymouth and Devonport to Exeter Railway/British Rail (Western) 1980's layouts should appear over the next eighteen months.
The layouts will be based on the proposed but unbuilt
Plymouth and Devonport to Exeter Railway.

Plymouth and Devonport to Exeter Railway

In 1840 there was considerable debate about the best route for a railway between Plymouth and Exeter. The challenge was whichever route was followed there would be hills and steam locos of the time were poor hill climbers. Three routes were proposed. The South Devon via Totness using an atmospheric system which proved a disaster and was replaced with steam locos. A line via Oakhampton that was built thirty years later as the Devon and Cornwall Railway. The third was a direct line 37 miles (60 km) long line over Dartmoor called the Plymouth and Devonport to Exeter Railway [PADER]. The PADER planned to use locos on the level and inclines (very steep sections of the railway worked by a stationary steam engine) to climb on and off Dartmoor making it like the Cromford and High Peak Railway. This was an obsolete concept, potential local traffic was limited, and unsurprisingly the line was not built. I have assumed that the PADER was built with the inclines bypassed by loco workable grades. PADER could only thrive on through traffic so would have sold out to the London South Western Railway [LSWR] that was desperate to reach Plymouth. The LSWR and subsequently the Southern Railway and Southern Region would have used the PADER as their mainline access to Plymouth and rather accidently provided local services. In the 1950's boarder changes in South Devon switched control of the PADER to the Western Region. The late 1970's bought the HSTs (Class 43) on to the PADER. Had the PADER become part of the LSWR it's possible that the Devon and Cornwall Railway may not have been built between Meldon Junction & Bere Alston and the line Yelverton to Launceston built as a LSWR branch.
The PADER proposed route was used in part by two other railways the Teign Valley Railway from Exeter
to Dunsford and the South Devon and Tavistock Railway from Yelverton to Plymouth. From Dunsford (the junction would have been at Leigh Cross) the PADER would have followed the Teign Valley via Meadhay (Dunsford) and Chagford then climbed up the South Teign Valley to the Assycombe Gap. Before dropping down the Stannon Valley to cross the East Dart River at Postbridge. Followed by a climbed up the Gawler Valley to Powdermills then down the Cherry Valley to the West Dart River. The Swincombe Valley would be used for the climb to Whiteworks followed by a drop down the Meavy Valley past Meavy to Yelverton. This is roughly the route of the B3212. The PADER route is 'against the grain of the country' and would have require at least six tunnels.
The South Devon and Tavistock Railway was suburban and industrial to Yelverton and rural thereafter, opened in 1859, and closed to passengers in 1962. The Teign Valley Railway was built to serve granite quarries and to bypass Dawlish Warren, opened in 1882, and closed to passengers in 1958. The Princetown Railway ran to the north of the PADER, opening in 1883 and closing completely in 1956. That none survived to the Beeching Axe (1963) suggests they were always financially questionable and the Princetown Railway never paid a divided. The 'high Dartmoor' section from Postbridge to Whiteworks would have been even more financially questionable serving hamlets (population 250 or less) engaged in hill farming (cattle, sheep, & ponies) and forestry (soft, hard, and mixed woods). The railway would have encouraged tourism, quarrying (there are several closed granite quarries on route), working tin mine waste heaps for aggregate, peat works, industry (there was an explosive works at Powdermills), and military use.


The layouts will be 93 inches long and 40 inches deep. As we know they work the track plans are based on Tim A's Welsh Marches Group (Owdham Sidings, Coedlei Sidings, Pontyblyddyn, and Pontybodkin) but to make things a bit different the track plans are mirrored on the long axis. Advantage is taken of the limited passenger traffic with halts rather than stations giving more room for goods traffic/shunting. The major difference is winter scenery this has been used on Winter Hill and Winter Run so is not new but should make Simon's PADER Group look considerably different from the other groups The layouts are set in the late 1970's/early 1980's to fit the available stock; classes (1 each) 43/HST, 37, blue 121, & blue 08, 5 vans (VGAs), 3 tank wagons, 2 bogie coil wagons, and coaches.