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

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 20, 2018
Webpage updated: December 21, 2021

        

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

TAVISTOCK SOUTH STATION

Tavistock South Station, with its grand overall roof, looking northwards towards Lydford.
Tavistock South Signal Box is just visible behind the water crane on the right.
From author's collection.

Tavistock Station was officially opened by the South Devon and Tavistock Railway Company amongst much jubilation on June 22nd 1859.  It was 12 miles 71 chains mile post mileage from Tavistock Junction and was equipped with a 45 feet diameter turntable.

The Launceston and Tavistock Railway Company opened their line from Launceston through Lydford to Tavistock Station on July 1st 1865.

An unusual combination of a 45xx-class tank engine with two auto-coaches
waiting to leave Tavistock South Station.
From the author's collection.

On May 18th 1876 the train service was augmented by those of the London and South Western Railway Company, which had secured running rights over the Great Western Railway Company's Launceston Branch south of Lydford Station to gain access to Plymouth.  To cope with the extra traffic two small signal boxes had been opened on March 1st 1876, named Tavistock "A" and Tavistock "B".

Before reading about the fire that destroyed the Station on the evening of Saturday August 27th 1887, it might be useful to be aware of the description of the Station published at the beginning of the report of the fire.  It should be noted that the report refers to what we would call the Down platform, to Launceston, as being the up or north platform and the Up platform, to Plymouth, as being on the south side of the Station, adjoining the Whitchurch Road.  (The description is taken from the transcription of the account of the fire.)

'All the station premises, except the goods department, are situated on the down platform, on the south side of the station, forming a long low building of one storey, facing a dead wall, overlooked by the Whitchurch-road.  The lamp-room occupied the westernmost end.  Next to it was the office of the traffic inspector, Mr Chamberlain, on the other side of which was the lavatory.  The third-class waiting-room and booking-office came next, occupying the central portion of the buildings.  On the other side of the booking-office were the stationmaster's private room, the first and second class waiting room, with the ladies' waiting-room leading out of it, and, further on, the parcel office and refreshment-room, in which the premises terminated on the eastern side.  Built in 1859 entirely of wood, with lath and plaster partitions, the structure was of a kind sure to burn easily and furiously.  On the up or north platform the only erection is a wooden wall, extending the greater part of the length of the platform, and forming the northern support of the roof, ,which, as all travellers on the line know, spans the permanent way and both platforms.  In length the roof, which is of wood covered with lead at the sides, and of glass in the centre, extends a distance of about 150 feet, and in width it is 50 or 60 feet.  To the north of the up platform lies the goods department, and connecting the platforms at the eastern end is a footbridge.' 

In 1895 a new Tavistock Signal Box replaced the Tavistock "A" and "B" signal boxes.

Following the railway nationalization of 1948, Tavistock Station was renamed Tavistock South Station on and as from September 26th 1949 to distinguish it from the former Southern Railway Company's Station, now called Tavistock North.

Many of the train services from North Road Plymouth Station terminated at Tavistock South Station, usually operated as railmotors and sometimes running through to Saltash Station, in Cornwall.

An Up train to Plymouth has the right of way to depart from Tavistock South Station.
David Lawrence.

On Weekdays and Sundays, 'where train service permits', commencing on May 1st 1953, the following cheap day return tickets, first and third class, were available from Tavistock South Station to: Coryton, 4 shillings (s) 1st, 2 shillings (s) 9 pence (d) 3rd; Devonport Albert Road, 5s 3d 1st, 3s 6d 3rd; Keyham, 6s 1st, 4s 3rd; Launceston, 6s 6d 1st, 4s 3d 3rd; Lifton, 5s 3d 1st, 3s 6d 3rd; Lydford BRWR, 2s 6d 1st, 1s 8d 3rd; Marsh Mills, 4s 6d 1st, 3s 3rd; Plymouth North Road Station, 5s 3d 1st, 3s 6d 3rd; Princetown, 5s 3d 1st, 3s 6d 3rd; Saltash, 6s 9d 1st, 4s 6d 3rd; and Shaugh Bridge Platform, 2s 9d 1st, 1s 9d 3rd.  Tickets were valid for return from Devonport Albert Road, Lydford BRSR Station, Lydford BRWR Station, and Plymouth North Road Station by either route.

According to the "The Official Hand-book of Station 1956" Tavistock South Station, which included Messrs Hoare Brothers Limited's Putts Cleave siding, and the South Western Gas Board's siding, 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 equipped with a crane capable of lifting 6 tons.

The snowy scene at Tavistock South Station on the last day of operation, December 29th 1962,
with 5564 on the 12.40pm from Launceston awaiting the arrival of the 12.45pm from Plymouth.
the late Peter W Gray.

Passenger traffic on the Launceston Branch ceased on and as from December 31st 1962 but the line from Lydford Station was kept open for freight traffic to Tavistock.  That traffic ceased and the line was completely closed on and as from September 25th 1964.