80 Okehampton and Meldon

In a moment of rashness, the railway, on top of ordering a British Rail “double arrow” station sign for Christow, got Rydon Signs at Pinhoe to make three more for campaign groups as a show of support from the Teign Valley.

On 20th April, the scout drove the utilicon to Okehampton and presented the signs to group members who had attended a morning OkeRail meeting in the town.

A car crash at Doccombe had blocked the road and so a detour had to be made via Westcott and Blackingstone, but arrival at Okehampton was not far behind time. An easterly wind chilled the bright sunshine, which was fine for the photographers.

After lunch with friends at the station buffet, the scout set off for Meldon.

The dismal state of the former double main line. This is how the line from Coleford Junction to Okehampton most likely would have looked by now, had it not been reopened in 2021.
Okehampton was a terminus after it first opened but the line soon went on, reaching its furthest extent west at Padstow, on the North Cornwall coast, and south at Turnchapel, outside Plymouth.
Today, Okehampton is a terminus again but 100 miles of dismantled railway lie beyond. This mileage does not include the Plymouth lines serving the Southern’s former main stations, Devonport and Friary; Callington; and the humble N.D. & C.J.R. between Torrington and Halwill.

Mileages: Okehampton to Bere Alston, 22¾; Meldon Junction to Bude, 28¼; Halwill Junction to Padstow, 49¾. Total: 100¾ miles.

The magnificent Meldon Viaduct. +
Kevin Dentith, Devon County Council’s Chief Engineer, Bridges and Structures, when asked at a public meeting about the condition of the viaduct, replied that he thought it was, or could be made, fit to carry trains.
But he is an old school engineer.
Meldon Gorge. +
There was once a buffet coach berthed in this siding. Through the windows and from a platform at the end, there were fine views of the viaduct and the gorge. +

The scout was treated to an unofficial tour of the quarry yard but he took no photographs.

The scout approaches the quarry entrance.
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