Webpage created: February 02, 2016
Webpage updated: March 20, 2021
RAILWAYS IN OLD DEVONPORT
The South Devon Railway Company, which had opened its line to Plymouth in 1849, had promised to construct a branch line from Plymouth Station at Millbay to Devonport. Land for this was purchased from the Saint Aubyn Estate and a contractor engaged to construct the viaduct over Stonehouse Pool. But when the Cornwall Railway Company changed their mind about where to cross the River Tamar it was decided to sell the land and the rights to them so that they could use it for their main line to Saint Budeaux. The agreement was signed on May 9th 1854.
Two separate railway lines used to pass through Devonport. The oldest - and the one that still survives as the Cornish main line - was built by the Cornwall Railway Company and opened in 1859. It commenced at Cornwall Junction, on the South Devon Railway Company's line into Plymouth Station at Millbay, and ran through Devonport to the Royal Albert Bridge and on into Cornwall. Keyham Station was added in 1900 and three out of the four halts four years later for a suburban service. Dockyard Halt was opened in 1905. This line was taken over by the Great Western Railway Company in 1876 and British Railways Western Region when the railway system was nationalised in 1948.
Although the London and South Western Railway had arrived at Devonport in 1876 it had used running powers over the South Devon and Tavistock Railway Company's line to get into Plymouth and thus its only real bit of track was from Devonport Junction, on the Great Western main line, into Devonport Station, where it terminated. A branch line to Stonehouse Pool was started in 1876 and terminated at Richmond Walk. The following year it was completed under the authority of the Stonehouse Pool Improvement Act of July 13th 1876. It would appear that it was not opened for traffic until March 1st 1886, however, and then only to goods traffic. Passenger-carrying came much later with the advent of the ocean terminal.
The second railway line was built by the Plymouth, Devonport and South-Western Junction Railway Company to give the London and South Western Railway its own route from Lydford Station through Tavistock, Bere Alston, Bere Ferrers, Saint Budeaux, and Ford, to enter Devonport Station from the western end through two huge tunnels under Devonport itself. When it was opened in 1890 Devonport became a through station. In 1898 the village of Tamerton Foliot was provided with a station and a number of halts were added in 1906 when a suburban service was introduced. In March 1908 the Bere Alston and Calstock Light Railway, formerly the East Cornwall Mineral Railway, was joined to the main line at Bere Alston Station after it was extended across the Calstock Viaduct to the Devon side of the river Tamar. In 1923 the line became part of the Southern Railway and upon nationalisation in 1948, it became the Southern Region of British Railways.
The former Southern Railway main line was closed between Saint Budeaux and Devonport Junction as from September 7th 1964. Only the stretch between Saint Budeaux and Bere Alston remains in use as part of the Network Rail Gunnislake Branch.
Click on the following links for more information about the Engines Sheds, Goods Depots and Yards, Ground Frames, Halts, Junctions, Platforms, Sidings, Signal Boxes, Signalling, Stations, Tunnels, and Viaducts -