Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: June 06, 2017
Webpage updated: April 14, 2021




Friary Engine Shed in all its glory, September 1961.
From the author's collection.

When the London and South Western Railway Company opened their extension from Devonport Station to Friary Station, they also opened an Engine Shed to the south of the Goods Shed.  It had one dead-end line and one through line that gave access to the Turntable, which was also accessible from a line outside the Shed.  The Shed measured some 100 feet by 33 feet.

Number 30088 on Friary Engine Shed in July 1957.
R C Riley.

As it housed only four locomotives this quickly proved to be inadequate so in 1905 the London and South Western Railway Company authorized a new Engine Shed capable of taking fifteen locomotives to be built on spare ground near Friary Station.  Comprising a long through brick-built shed, the three roads combined with an external line into a 50-feet diameter turntable at the eastern  end.  A coaling ramp and two water columns were provided on the external line.  The coaling facilities were altered in 1938 to enable it to deal with the modern high tenders.  Offices and stores lined the southern side of the building, where, after 1933, there was also a "crane road" for lifting boilers off the main frames.  Four  sidings were provided for passenger carriages.

N-class number 38153 at Friary Engine Shed.
Built between 1924 and 1925 at Woolwich Arsenal, this class were used on
both passenger and freight trains to Okehampton or Exeter Central.
From the author's collection.

The new Engine Shed was completed and presumably opened in 1908, which meant that the small engine shed at Devonport Station could be closed.  In addition to its allocation of 4-4-0 T9 class locomotives for the main line passenger services, it also looked after B4 tanks for dock work and O2 tanks for the Turnchapel Branch.  There was a sub-shed at Callington Station.

Southern Railway number 84, photographed at Friary Shed in August 1949
before it became British Railways Southern Region number 30084.
Kidderminster Railway Museum.

Friary Engine Shed and its sub-depot were transferred to the Southern Railway Company in 1923, to British Railways Southern Region in 1947 (as 72D), the Western Region of British Railways in 1958 (as 83H) and finally closed in May 1963, when its last remaining locomotives were moved to Laira Engine Shed.  The buildings were quickly demolished.

B4 class loco number 30089 at Friary Engine Shed in April 1954.
Mr B K B Green.

The locomotive allocation of Friary Engine Shed, then known as a Motive Power Depot, in January 1946 is given here; the allocation for December 1953 is given here.

In June 1948 Mr A W Johnson, the Running Shed Superintendent at Exmouth Junction Motive Power Depot, Exeter, was responsible for the Plymouth Friary and Callington Engine Sheds.  Mr J Salter was the Locomotive Foreman for both Sheds.

Steam loco 30089 beside diesel 11227 at Friary Engine Shed.
  The Western Morning News Company Limited.
Courtesy of the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office.

Friary Engine Shed took delivery of some new 0-6-0 diesel shunters at the beginning of 1958, number 11227 being pictured above alongside B4 0-4-0 shunter number 30089,  looking unusually spruced-up.  Numbers 11225, 11226, 11228 and 11229 subsequently joined it and all were apparently on Shed on Saturday February 1st 1958, the day on which all the formerly Southern Railway lines west of Exeter, except those in and around Plymouth, were transferred from British Railways' Western Region back to their original Southern Region.  The shunters were later renumbered as D2225 to D2229.  It was reported at the time that because of the threatened transfer of the Shed to  the Western Region, four Bulleid Pacifics, numbers 34035, 34036, 34037 and 34038, made a rapid journey from Friary Engine Shed to Exmouth Junction Engine Shed in case they, too, got taken over.  In fact, Friary Engine Shed did not get officially transferred to the Western Region until Sunday February 23td 1958, when it took the new code 83H, as a sub-shed of Laira.

On or as from Sunday May 5th 1963 Friary Engine Shed was closed and the remaining staff transferred to the recently opened Laira Motive Power depot.