96 Tiverton Branch

The scout rode up the Culm Valley, across to Tiverton and down the Exe Valley, doing a refresher of the route taken by the “Tivvy Bumper” on the way.

Looking from Burn Rew Bridge, the main line is seen descending towards Cullompton.
From the same bridge, an Up train approaches Tiverton Junction, whose platforms, stripped of their edgings, can still be seen.
Mail apparatus once stood beside the Down line and possibly the Up. Postmen would have reached it from this bridge.
The next bridge gave access to the Lloyd Maunder factory in the vee of the junction between the main line and the Tiverton Branch. This was established in 1914 and continued as Lloyd Maunder until sold to 2 Sisters Food Group in 2008. +

“AF” and “FM” insulated containers, used by Lloyd Maunder, are often mentioned in the G.W.R. Letter Register which came from Tiverton Junction and was later kept as a Visitors’ Book in the railway’s Camping Van at Christow.

Lloyd Maunder, Sainsbury’s oldest supplier, began sending eggs, poultry and rabbits from his farm at Witheridge, North Devon to the company’s London headquarters in 1898. These entries in the Letter Register from 1958 refer to South Lambeth. +
A 1959 entry refers to an “FM” container consigned to J. Sainsbury, South Lambeth. +
A glimpse from the Downside of what remains of Tiverton Junction, one of the six stations between Taunton and Exeter which were extensively remodelled in 1932. The work at Tiverton Junction employed 200 men and took only a year to complete.
The line which led to the Culm Valley platform remains as a siding. Beyond the island platform is the quadrupled main line; the platform lines remain as loops. On the far side of the other island was the Tiverton platform. The goods yard was to the left and behind the camera.
The road once led to the Goods Shed and Parcels Office on the Upside. +
The “Tivvy Bumper” enters Tiverton Junction, passing a line of insulated containers in Lloyd Maunder’s siding.
Tiverton Junction loco shed is seen at left.
Copyright David Glasspool Collection.
At the top end of the Up island platform, looking west. Access to both islands was by means of the footbridge, whose entrance was on the Downside. The Goods Shed and Parcels Office is seen at right.
Copyright: Roger Joanes. Shared under Creative Commons. +
The station began as Tiverton Road in 1844 and became Tiverton Junction when the branch opened in 1848. It might simply have been Willand. The station closed in 1986, being replaced by Tiverton Parkway, built where Sampford Peverell had been.
Quadrupling of the 1¾ miles between Sampford Peverell and Tiverton Junction was proposed as part of the 1930s improvements.
Copyright: Roger Joanes. Shared under Creative Commons. +
Shamefully, the scout never used the station and only remembers standing on the platform once. Not many years ago, his stopping train was looped and came to a stand at the old Up platform.
Copyright: Roger Joanes. Shared under Creative Commons.

The scout turned off the road which he had last used when Tiverton Junction was open and followed Brown’s Bridge Lane.

The scout had passed Halberton on the canal towpath the previous autumn, while riding from Eggesford to Sampford Peverell.

It was only half a mile from the church to the former halt.

Halterton Halt

The passengers who have just detrained are about to turn left and follow the path up to the lane.
Copyright: Sid Sponheimer.
The branch continued towards Tiverton beside the lane, which was obviously diverted when the line was built, but whose former course is marked by the line of trees going off right. +
The railway may not originally have provided a shelter here.
Looking back towards the former stopping place. The Wellington Monument could just be seen next to the last tree on the left. +

The diverted lane continues alongside the former line until it meets the Grand Western Canal, which also must have displaced the road.

The scout had stopped to photograph the aqueduct in 2022.

The easiest way to reach Manley Bridge would have been along the canal but the towpath lay on the opposite bank. So the scout climbed away from the canal, only to descend and fly over it. He pulled up on Manley Railway Bridge, a little way beyond the canal.

Pool Anthony Bridge.

When the scout emerged into the roads madness that has now invaded the railway junction, he did not stop to take photographs because he had already done so on an earlier Exe Valley ride.

The old picture house is owned by Merlin Cinemas which group incidentally has the most southerly (Penzance) and most northerly (Thurso) cinemas in mainland U.K.

Heavy showers were forecast and one started just as the scout was entering The Crusty Cob for a hot pasty and coffee.

He had left his bicycle in the covered alley leading to the Tivoli cinema, where, as a boarder at prep school, he and his chums went on a Saturday afternoon to watch a screening of “Where Eagles Dare,” the only film he saw there in six years.

The rain persisted until his lunch was finished and he kept dry on his ride down the Exe Valley.

Tiverton Museum

In June, the scout visited Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life and photographed pieces in its fabulous railway gallery. The annex was built around by far its largest exhibit, a 14XX 0-4-2T.

This was bought by Lord Amory after the closure of the Tiverton Branch and the loco stood for many years in an enclosure beside Blundell’s Road, where the cub scout must have walked past it dozens of times.

On his way back to Exeter, the scout saw that the path to Sandy Lane Crossing was open and so went to see the Miniature Warning Lights working. +

Stoke Canon Crossing

An old railwayman seeing grass disturbed in the four-foot by a passing train on a busy main line may wonder what has gone wrong. +
A lot of work had clearly been done to deal with the wet spots beneath and beside the crossing, but Pelgage voidmeters (£289.99 for a set of ten) are still showing vertical movement of the road and a short 80 m.p.h. slack was in force on the Down.
The gap between the part attached to the rail and the sliding collar beneath is the movement caused by passing trains. +
The joys of riding Devon’s roads. At the end of the Stoke Canon causeway, the A396 turnpike veers right and Stoke Hill, the old road, used by many as a shortcut, continues straight ahead. The whole of the curve that a cyclist should follow is broken up and loose chippings are spread around. A driver coming from Exeter turned in front of the scout and then put his foot down, sending a shower of chippings into the air. In his haste, the driver had cut the corner and driven over the worst patch of chippings. The skid mark can be seen.

The scout made it back to the utilicon having clocked 44 miles.

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