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.
The National Trust owns several properties in South Devon and they all have something to commend them, but I think my favourite has to be Coleton Fishacre.
It’s a bit out of the way, but that’s one of the attractions of this estate that includes a magnificent garden that sweeps down to the sea and a house that evokes the bygone jazz age of the 1920s.
The man behind the creation of Coleton Fishacre was Rupert D’Oyly Carte, whose father, Richard, was the producer of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operas. Rupert, who incidentally was also the inspiration for P.G Wodehouse’s Rupert Psmith, inherited the family business including the Savoy Hotel and Claridge’s in London.
It was on a sailing trip between Brixham and Dartmouth with his wife Dorothy, that he saw the potential of the valley above Pudcombe Cove for building a home on the coast. It’s not difficult to see why they chose this spot, and in 1923 he set about building Coleton Fishacre which took three years to finish.
Paignton to Kingswear Steam Railway and the Round Robin
There are any number of things that will make a great day out in South Devon, but in my opinion, one of the best has to be the ‘Round Robin’
. It comprises different modes of transport linking Paignton, Dartmouth
, and Totnes.
The Round Robin includes a steam train from Paignton to Kingswear, a ferry across the River Dart to Dartmouth, a boat trip up the river to Totnes, and an open-top bus back to Paignton. It can be done the other way round and you can start from Paignton, Dartmouth or Totnes.
Part of the attraction is to be able to explore the towns of Dartmouth and Totnes and so you would need to factor in the tide times of the Dart if you intend to do the whole journey in one day.
For expediency, in this post, I’m just going to describe the train journey between Paignton and Kingswear.