A Train Station with No Railway

A Train Station with No Railway

Slap bang on Dartmouth’s riverside embankment is a former railway station which has since been converted to a restaurant. Nothing unusual about that you might think, but the station never had a railway in the first place – no tracks, nothing – so why was there a station here?

The simple answer is that it was used as a booking office to buy train tickets, but I suppose you’re now wondering why you would want to buy a train ticket at a booking office where there were no trains. Well, the answer to this is also quite simple, or at least up to a point.

Basically, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s railway line to Torbay stopped at Torre, and the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway Company was formed to extend it to Dartmouth via Torquay, Paignton, Brixham Road (now Churston) and Kingswear, but the proposed bridge across the River Dart was beset by problems and so the railway line terminated at Kingswear.

Kingswear

The solution was to build a floating bridge across the river in the form of a chain ferry, and in August 1864 both the railway and ferry opened, as did Dartmouth railway station where you could buy a combined ferry and train ticket.

The View upriver from Kingswear

Today, the railway sill runs to Kingswear and is operated by the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company. The company also operates a popular ‘Round Robin’ trip which includes the steam train between Paignton and Kingswear, a passenger ferry across the river to Dartmouth, a trip up the River Dart to Totnes, and an open-top bus back to Paignton. If you want to find out more about the train journey you can read about it here.

The Dartmouth Steam Railway's Passenger Ferry that runs between Kingswear and Dartmouth

The ferry is also still running, but is now a floating platform pulled along by a tug boat. It can be used by both foot passengers and vehicles and crosses the river between the slipway next to Kingswear station and Bayards Cove, a picturesque corner of Dartmouth which I wrote about in Privateers, Castles, Sea Dogs and Pilgrims. The Lower Ferry, as it’s called, is operated by South Hams District Council, as is the more modern Higher Ferry a bit further upstream.

Below are pictures of the Lower Ferry, Bayards Cove and the Higher Ferry.

In my next post about Dartmouth, I’ll be taking you for a stroll around the town to explore some of its more interesting corners, and as you may have already guessed, we’ll be starting our walk from the Station with No Railway.

The Station Restaurant (now called Platform 1) from the Boat Float (Inner Harbour)

POSTED – MAY 2021

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21 thoughts on “A Train Station with No Railway

  1. Kritika Panase

    Always in awe of strange historical events and unexpected stories! This blog serves perfect! I wonder how much it takes to dig out those unusual facts which most of all are unaware of! Very informative and amusing though! It is such a delight to unfold some of the rich pages of history and bring them to light. Most of the facts are old secrets and bringing them out is itself a huge task. Appreciate your efforts. Pictures are fabulous! Can’t wait to read you next blog!

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about it. I hope I can live up to your expectations in future blogs 🙂

      Reply
  2. starship VT

    A lot of interesting information here for train enthusiasts, about local ferries, and travelers to this part of England in general. As I’m sure you know, we have an Ivy League college in New Hampshire named Dartmouth also. Splendid photos too, Malcolm.

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      Thanks a lot for taking a look again Sylvia. It’s always a pleasure to read your comments, and not just because they’re always complimentary.

      I did realise that you have a famous Dartmouth College over there, but I never knew what the Ivy League was (apart from a British pop group from the 60s), so you’ve educated me today as well 🙂

      Reply
  3. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

    Well although the story sounds odd, there’s logic, I guess, in it. In any event I enjoyed it as well, no, especially, the great photographs you’ve taken and posted. Splendid work Malc. All the best to you,
    FBC.

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      If it’s useless knowledge you like Francesc then you’ve come to the right place, and thanks for your kind words again. I always appreciate your comments.

      Reply
      1. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

        No, I don’t think it’s useless at all Malc. I find your articles entertaining and very informative as well. I am a lover of history, and as such I am interested in everything that might hold some symbolic, emotional, economical or social value or use…And I am a big fan of your photography, always top of the line and beautiful!
        Thanks my friend, take good care and all the best to you,
        FBC.

        Reply
        1. Easymalc Post author

          Entertaining and informative is how I like my posts to come across, with a sprinkling of photographs thrown in as well, so you’ve really made my day Francesc. Thank you so much.

          Any sign of a vaccine yet?

          Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      If you haven’t been to Dartmouth before then I think you should. It’s definitely one of my favourite small Devon towns

      Reply
  4. Fergy.

    Hello again Malc,

    I still cannot answer via WordPress despite your having diagnosed the problem but no matter.

    As you know, I have been to Dartmouth several times, once in company with your good self and several of our mutual friends but I do not recall noticing this place before. It does sound a bit odd but I suppose under the circumstances it probably makes sense. I can’t wait to read your next Dartmouth post as I do rather like that little place. Another great post.

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      It’s a shame that WordPress.com doesn’t always link with WordPress.org correctly at times (probably most of the time), but such is life. Anyway, thanks for checking this one out, but I have to say I’m surprised that you can remember anything about Dartmouth at all 🙂

      Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      It’s looking ok on my webpage. Are you looking at it through WordPress Reader?

      Reply
      1. luisa zambrotta

        Right. Yesterday I looked at it through WP Reader, but now I’ve just gone back to the post. linking from here, and everything looks perfect
        👍👍👍

        Reply
        1. Easymalc Post author

          Great. I think it has to be a communication problem between WordPress.com and WordPress. org

          Reply

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