Totnes railway station

Totnes railway station

Infobox UK station

name = Totnes
manager = First Great Western
platforms = 2
code = TOT
locale = Totnes
borough = South Hams
latitude = 50.43560
longitude = -3.68868
usage0203 = 0.316
usage0405 = 0.353
usage0506 = 0.384
usage0607 = 0.433
original = South Devon Railway
pregroup = Great Western Railway
postgroup = Great Western Railway
years = 1847
events = Opened
years1 = 1872
events1 = Ashburton branch opened
years2 = 1942
events2 = Station bombed
years3 = 1958
events3 = Ashburton branch closed

Totnes railway station serves the towns of Totnes and Dartington in Devon, England. It is situated on the London to Penzance Linecite web |title = National Rail Timetable 135 (Winter 2007)|publisher= Network Rail|url =|format=PDF] and is operated by First Great Western

A second station for the South Devon Railway heritage railway is situated to the north east, on the opposite bank of the River Dart and parallel to the main line. It was opened in the 1990s and was named Totnes (Littlehempston). It is accessed by a pedestrian bridge over the river from the main station, adjacent to the railway viaduct over the river, and only open during the very restricted hours the station is open. Prior to this the South Devon steam trains were permitted to use the main station.


Totnes railway station was built by the South Devon Railway Company and opened on 20 July 1847 when trains started to run on the line from Newton, as Newton Abbot was known at time time. cite book| last = Gregory| first = R H| title = The South Devon Railway| publisher = Oakwood Press| date = 1982| location = Salisbury| id = ISBN 0-853612-86-2] It was a terminus until 5 May 1848 when trains started to run through to Plymouth, initially using a temporary terminus at Laira. The line was intended to be operated by atmospheric power and an engine house to provide power was built behind the eastbound platform, although it was never brought into use. [cite book| last = Clayton| first = Howard|title = The Atmospheric Railways| publisher = Howard Clayton| date = 1966| location = Lichfield] The two platform tracks were covered by wooden train sheds, an engine shed was built south of the line beyond the westbound platform, and a goods shed was erected between this platform and the River Dart which the line crossed on a viaduct just to the east of the platforms.

Totnes became the junction for the Buckfastleigh, Totnes and South Devon Railway's line to Ashburton when it opened on 1 May 1872. [cite book| last = MacDermot| first = E T| title = History of the Great Western Railway, volume II 1863-1921| publisher = Great Western Railway| date = 1931| location = London] The South Devon Railway was amalgamated with the Great Western Railway on 1 February 1876 and the Buckfastleigh company was absorbed in 1897. Trains were suspended on 21 and 22 May 1892 while the original RailGauge|84 broad gauge tracks were replaced by those of RailGauge|ussg standard gauge. The engine shed was closed in 1904 although the turntable was retained for five more years. cite book| last = Oakley| first = Mike| title = Devon Railway Stations| publisher = The Dovecote Press| date = 2007| location = Wimbourne| id = ISBN 1-904349-55-6]

The westbound platform was damaged during an air raid in World War 2 on 21 October 1942. The Ashburton branch train was damaged in the attack, two people killed and two more injured.

On 1 January 1948 the Great Western Railway was nationalised to become the Western Region of British Railways. Passenger services to Ashburton were withdrawn on 3 November 1958 and the line closed entirely on 10 September 1962. A few months earlier, on 14 April 1962, a fire destroyed the main buildings situated on the westbound platform at Totnes. General goods traffic was withdrawn on 14 June 1965 although coal continued to be handled until 4 December 1967 and milk until 1980, from the dairy that incorporates the building intended for the atmospheric engines.

A new station building was opened on 21 October 1983 to replace the temporary buildings that had served the station since the fire in 1962. From 5 April 1985 to 2 September 1987 trains on the Buckfastleigh line, now the South Devon Railway heritage line, operated into the station. A footbridge across the River Dart was opened on 30 September 1993 which now allows people to walk to Totnes (Littlehempston) railway station to join the heritage trains to Buckfastleigh.

The 1887-built footbridge than spanned the station and gave access to the operating floor of the signal box was destroyed on 18 October 1987 when hit by a crane enagaged in track renewals, it has been replaced by a new bridge.


The signals were initially controlled by "policemen" who walked to each signal to change it, but from 1894 they were controlled from a wooden signal box at the west end of the westbound platform. This was replaced in 1923 by a brick-built signal box towards the opposite end of the eastbound platform. From 17 December 1973 this was a "fringe box" to the Panel Signal Box at Plymouth railway station, when the signal boxes at Brent and other intermediate locations were closed. Totnes itself was closed on 9 November 1987 when new multiple-aspect signals were brought into use, controlled from the new signalling centre at Exeter. The signal box is now used as a café.


On 13 March 1860 the boiler of the locomotive "Tornado" exploded while standing at Totnes, killing the driver. [cite book| title = The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, Part 2: Broad Gauge| publisher = The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society| date=1953| id = ISBN 0-90686-790-8]


The railway approaches from Newton Abbot in the north-east, runs south-westerly through the station, and then swings to the west on a right-hand curve which is the start of the steep climb up to Rattery. There are four tracks through the station with platforms alongside the outer pair.

The modern brick-built station building is on the south-east side of the station, nearest the town. This is the platform for trains to Plymouth and Penzance. Trains to Newton Abbot, Exeter and beyond depart from the opposite platform which can be reached by a footbridge on the north-east side of the entrance to the platform. The footbridge also gives access to the café that is situated in the old signal box on the platform used by trains to Newton Abbot. There is level access to the station from the car park on the south-east side, and also from the area in front of the milk factory on the north-west side which can be reached by the road bridge that spans the tracks just to the south-west of the station.

Buses to Dartmouth operate from the car park on the south-east side. A footpath from here leads under the viaduct at the north-east end of the station to a footbridge that crosses the River Dart alongside the railway to reach Littlehempston station from where trains run to Buckfastleigh railway station.

The industrial complex on the north-west side of the station houses the milk factory; the grey stone building behind the signal box is the atmospheric engine house. The opposite side of the station is dominated by Totnes castle on the hill.


About half of the services are operated by First Great Western, including main line services from London Paddington station to Plymouth and Penzance. An alternative route to London Waterloo station is provided by South West Trains via Salisbury. CrossCountry operate trains through Birmingham to Manchester, the north east of England, and Scotland. [cite web |title = National Rail Timetable 51 (Winter 2007)|publisher= Network Rail|url =|format=PDF]

colspan=5|Interchange with Totnes (Littlehempston) on the South Devon Railway


External link

* [ Totnes On Line – Brunel engine house photographs]

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