Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: June 05, 2017
Webpage updated: December 11, 2021




The Southern Railway was formed by the amalgamation of London and South Western Railway Company with the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company, the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company, and the South Eastern Railway Company as a result of the Railways Act 1921.  The new Company began operating on January 1st 1923.  In the Plymouth area, this meant that it took over the running of the old London and South Western Railway Company's lines and the Friary Engine Shed.

During the Southern Railway Company's time running the Railways of Old Plymouth it achieved nothing except some improvements in locomotive capabilities.  It did introduce "The Atlantic Coast Express" on Monday July 19th 1926 and brought the locomotive "Lord Hood" to Devonport Station but that was all.

The Second World War did bring about the loss of the original Turnchapel Station and Signal Box and the original Plymstock Station and Signal Box.  Both were rebuilt.  Munitions sidings were laid in adjacent to Plymouth Friary "A" Signal Box.  Over in Old Devonport a link was laid in at Saint Budeaux between the Southern Railway and Great Western Railway to enable trains from Waterloo to reach Plymouth if their own line through Devonport was bombed.

With the introduction of the winter timetable for 1943-44 the method of working the Plymouth to Brighton and Portsmouth trains was altered.  Previously the two portions had split at Fareham, Hampshire, and joined together again there in the Down direction but now only the Up train did that.  In the reverse direction the portion from Brighton, depart 11.45am, ran via Southampton to Romsey, at which station it was joined by the Portsmouth portion that had run via Eastleigh.  Neither trains had called at Romsey previously.  

After the end of the War, the Southern Railway Company introduced a new class of locomotive for passenger and freight work in the Westcountry appropriately named the "Westcountry" Class, and the third locomotive was officially named "Plymouth" in 1945 in a ceremony at Friary Station.

But if the newly-named "Plymouth" thought it was to have a life of glory that was soon extinguished when, on July 14th 1945, it was spotted hauling 'an ignominious little train of 5 wagons' through Exeter Saint David's and up the incline to Exeter Central Station.  Needless to say it didn't need a banking engine.

On Friday June 20th 1947 the Southern Railway introduced a Pullman Car train named the "Devon Belle".  This ran from London's Waterloo Station to Ilfracombe in north Devon, with the front portion of the train going to Plymouth.

The Southern Railway ceased to exist from Midnight on December 31st 1947, following which its system became the Southern Region of British Railways, under the terms set out in the Transport Act of August 6th 1947.