OLD PLYMOUTH . UK
Plus parts of the South Hams and West Devon
www.oldplymouth.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 12, 2018
Webpage updated: June 27, 2019

        

RAILWAYS IN OLD PLYMOUTH  |  LAUNCESTON BRANCH
BRANCH LINE, PLYMOUTH STATION (MILLBAY) TO LAUNCESTON STATION

LYDFORD STATION (SDR/GWR/BRWR)

SEE ALSO LYDFORD STATION (LSWR, SR,BRSR)

Now preserved locomotive 4555 waits at Lydford Station
 with the 10.25am from Plymouth to Launceston train on June 23rd 1962.
the late Peter W Gray.

Lidford Station, as it was then spelt, 23 miles 27 chains from Plymouth Station (Millbay) and 12 miles 21 chains from the terminus at Launceston, was opened by the Launceston and South Devon Railway Company on July 1st 1865.  This Company connected end-on at Tavistock with the South Devon and Tavistock Railway to create a branch line from Plymouth right through to Launceston.  It was broad-gauge throughout.

The Booking Office building on the Launceston Branch Up Platform
 at Lydford Station, with the BRWR side of the Lydford Signal Box. 
Both were staffed by Southern Region men.
From author's collection.

The Station was joined on its eastern side by an entirely separate one built for the London and South Western Railway Company.  It was opened to passenger traffic on October 12th 1874.  That line was narrow-gauge, or standard-gauge as it later became, and connected the Town direct with London Waterloo Station.  Passengers who insisted on using what was to become in 1876 the Great Western Railway Company's Launceston Branch had to travel to Plymouth first and then to London Paddington Station, a considerably longer journey.

Also in October 1874 the South Devon Railway Company invited tenders to operate the Refreshment Rooms at Lidford Station.  It is not known if there were any applicants.  However, on Wednesday August 25th 1875, the magistrates at the Tavistock Petty Sessions granted an annual licence for the sale of wines and spirits and other excisable liquors at the South Devon Railway Company's refreshment room was granted to a Mr Thomas Gregory, who was the tenant.  Interestingly, the Magistrates also granted a licence to the 'tenant of the refreshment rooms on the platform of the Lydford (sic) railway station belonging to the London and South Western Railway Company', namely a Mr George Jeffery.  Thus Lidford (sic) had two refreshment rooms at that time.  'The Bench remarked that they would rather it could have been so arranged for one set of rooms to have been licenced, but to avoid danger of passengers crossing the lines, they considered it safer to grant the two licences'.

On May 17th 1876 the London and South Western Company's line was joined at the southern end of Lidford Station to the Great Western Railway Company's Launceston Branch so that they could exercise their legal running powers to run their trains down through Tavistock, Horrabridge and Marsh Mills to their new terminus at Devonport for Stonehouse Station.  To do so the Great Western Railway Company were obliged to add a third, narrow-gauge rail to their broad-gauge track and build North Road Plymouth Station, which was jointly opened in 1877.  This situation lasted until June 1st 1890.  The former GWR Booking Office, which was on the Up side, became a waiting room.  From that date the LSWRC ceased to use the GWR Launceston Branch, which enabled the connection at the southern end of Lidford Station to be removed in 1895.

Two years' later, on June 3rd 1897, the name of the Station was changed to "Lydford" although Ordnance Survey maps give the name of the LSWR side as Lydford Junction Station and it was spelt that way by the reporter from The Tavistock Gazette in 1875 (see above).

For a comparative Departure Board for Up GWR and Down LSWR trains at both Lydford Stations heading for Plymouth in April 1910 CLICK HERE.

On March 1st 1914 the London and South Western Railway Company took over responsibility for the Great Western Railway Company's Launceston Branch platforms.  This was followed in 1917 by the closure of the original GWR Signal Box and the opening of a new joint GWR/LSWR Lydford Signal Box between the Launceston Branch Up platform and the LSWR Up platform, although the two Up trains would have been going in opposite directions.

The need to have an alternative route into or out of Plymouth for freight traffic during the Second World War brought about the re-opening of the former link between the two railways at Lydford.  This was brought in to operation on November 15th 1943.

According to the "The Official Hand-book of Station 1956" Lydford BRWR Station dealt with goods traffic, passengers, parcels, miscellaneous traffic, furniture vans, carriages, motor cars, portable engines and machines on wheels, live stock, horse boxes, prize cattle vans, and carriages and motor cars by passenger or parcels trains.  It was not equipped with a crane.

British Railways closed their Launceston Branch to both goods and passenger traffic on or as from December 31st 1962 although goods traffic continued to be accepted at Lydford Station on the main line until September 7th 1964.  The main line side of Lydford Station, which kept its British Railways Southern Region look to the end, was closed to passenger traffic on or as from May 6th 1968.