Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: June 01, 2017.
Webpage updated: June 01, 2017




Following the nationalization of Britain's railways on January 1st 1948, the Southern Railway Company's Turnchapel Branch became the British Railways Turnchapel Branch.

British Railways closed the Turnchapel Branch temporarily on January 14th 1951 due to national coal shortages.  As a result many of its passengers transferred their custom to the Western National motor bus services that ran into Plymouth.   Thus, when the line re-opened on July 2nd a lot of the customers had been lost forever.

The last train left Turnchapel at 10.45pm on Saturday September 8th 1951 and the was line closed to passengers but remained open for freight traffic.

Mr Jack Lambert was the signalman at Turnchapel at that time.  He had been signalman for the last 18 years and had worked on the Branch since 1913, except for three years during the Great War, when he served with the Railway Operating Division in France.  He recalled that during the Second World War the platform at Turnchapel Station would be choked from end to end with servicemen and how before the War around 1,500 passengers would have used the line on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.  There was also a great deal of freight traffic to and from Turnchapel Dockyard and he anticipated that this would continue.

The final train carried about 50 railway enthusiasts including the vice-president and honorary secretary of the Plymouth Railway Circle, Messrs Chris Soper and Bernard S Murton, which prompted the British Railway's inspector, Mr C Bishop, to comment to the press that:  'If they turned up like this for every train the service would be running next week.  It takes about 35 passengers a trip to make it pay.'   The train was greeted at Friary Station by the explosion of detonators on the track.

A former Plymouth area gated coaching set, number 363, which had been used on both the Turnchapel and Callington Branches, was used by the Railway Correspondence & Travel Society during a visit to Bisley Camp in Surrey on Sunday November 23rd 1952.  Pushed by M7 class 0-4-4T number 30027 the set was used to provide a shuttle service from Brookwood Station to the Camp. 

On Saturday May 9th 1953 the "Titfield Thunderbolt" ran over the Turnchapel Branch.  Organised by Plymouth's Odeon Cinema following the showing of the film of that name during the week, the train consisted of an ex-Southern Railway class B4 0-4-0 goods tank locomotive number 30094 hauling a single coach.

It ran non-stop from Friary Station to Turnchapel in 10 minutes, whizzing through the intermediate stations at between 15 and 20mph, and carried around fifty members of the Plymouth Locospotters' Club.  The driver was Mr J A Grist and the fireman was Mr G P Perrett.  Mr S E Saunders was the guard and his brother, Mr I R Saunders, accompanied the train as shunter.

Also on board were Mr C F E Harvey, the district commercial superintendent, and Mr W Gilmour, the station master at Friary Station.  At Turnchapel the 'locomophiles', as the local press called them, climbed on the footplate, visited the small signal box and poured all over the track.  The return trip started late but this met with no complaints.

It was reported in November 1953 that the former Turnchapel push-and-pull set number 735 (both converted LSWR 46 feet long corridor coaches being individually numbered 2645 and 4760 and painted red) were working on the Exeter Central to Exmouth Branch.

Plymouth's Friary Station closed to passengers from Monday September 15th 1958, with the Friary Junction Signal Box following on the 27th.

The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society ran a special train over the Branch on Saturday May 2nd 1959 in connection with the centenary celebrations of the Royal Albert Bridge.  Hauled by 30182 the train was composed of two former LSWR gated-stock carriages.

The Turnchapel Branch closed to freight traffic from Monday October 2nd 1961 but the access to the Plymouth & Oreston Timber Company's yard remained open until Friday October 20th 1961, when the last train ran.

It was reported in March 1963 that the track was being lifted and would be shipped to Spain for scrap.

On Sunday May 12th 1963 Stamps Bridge, over the main road at Pomphlett, was demolished by a crane wielding a 2-ton weight.  Work began at 5am and was completed inside 30 minutes. 

The following Sunday, May 19th 1963, the Billacombe Road Bridge was demolished.

It was reported on Monday October 7th 1963 that the swing bridge across Hooe Lake was being broken up for scrap.