Bampton and the Railway
Little evidence remains in Bampton of the old railway - but in the surrounding area there are obvious lengths of disused railway lines - courtesy of the infamous Dr Beeching in the 1960's. When driving along the Exe valley, it is easy to spot raised embankments and old bridges where the railway used to run.
Bampton was once part of the Exe Valley Railway. It was then possible to go by train to Exeter St David's in the south, or to go northwards to Dulverton (actually the station was well outside the town at Brushford) from where one could go east to Taunton or westwards to Barnstable.
NEW: To mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Exe Valley Railway, a short video has been made to tell the story of the Railway in Bampton 1884-1963 - you can watch it at Bampton Heritage Centre or on YouTube here.
50th Anniversary - Download here BBC Radio Devon extracts from Good Morning Devon (each 5 mins and 5MB in size):
The old photograph on the right shows a fascinating view of the railway sidings at Bampton Station - it is taken from the top of the church tower.
The main GWR line swoops of to the right to run alongside the river and towards Tiverton.
On the right is the signal box beyond which is a siding with pens which was used for loading cattle for Bampton Market (which was alongside the western side of the station, now 'Market Close').
But you can also see the special railway sidings and trucks running over the river bridge to the stone-crushing plant in Scott's Quarry at top left.
The photo on the left is a splendid view of Bampton Railway Station showing a train standing at the platform. There are many interesting features in the background including of course the now filled-in railway bridge with people standing to watch, a signal high on the bank in the distance, and what one assumes are tall light stands.
Sadly we have no date for the photo - any ideas?
Bampton Station closed on 5th October 1963.
The railway station opened in 1884, and closed in October 1963. Over its span of nearly 80 years, it carried not only people but cattle, sheep, and ponies to market. In 1898, railway access to the extensive quarries was constructed, and this was used to transport stone from this thriving industry. However, after the second world war freight traffic was reduced, and by 1950 many quarries were worked out or using road haulage. The picture on the right shows Bampton Station, taken from the railway bridge.
(The book cover shown is
The Exe Valley Railway - Including the Tiverton Branch
John Owen - Waterfront - ISBN 0 946184 15 1)
When the railway closed, much was demolished, and the bulldozers resculptured the landscape. The railway had run through the town in a very steep-sided cutting, but you may be forgiven for not noticing this today! The cutting was filled in, as was the railway bridge joining Luke Street to High Street, and you can still make out the top of it by the flower-bed at that point. The photograph below shows a fascinating model of Bampton's railway station which is now part of the displays at Bampton's new Heritage Centre in the church.
The model was made by Donald Michael Clarridge who was Vicar of Bampton 1977 to 1984. There does seem to be some sort of affinity between vicars and railways!
Next to the old bridge is Station House, originally the station master's house whose front door originally looked down into the railway cutting; next door is the Bridge House Hotel, originally the 'Temperance Hotel'! The station was removed, and is now 'Station Car Park' by the church; the sidings have become a modern industrial estate.
Modern aerial photo
This map is dated 1904
Try moving your mouse over the aerial photo above.
Before the construction of the railway, 'Station Road' was called 'Western Way' and ran into what is now called 'West Street'.
The 'Tivvy Bumper' engine is housed in the Tiverton Museum, and has just had its 75th biorthday! See video here.
The picture on the left shows the pathway which runs along the old railway line which linked into Scotts quarry.
The embankments and bridge over the river are now used to provide a footpath for those in the new housing estate. The trees and water meadows below are rich in wildlife.
Walking around Bampton, you can still see bits of the old railway tracks being used to prop up buildings and to provide reinforcement.
The two photographs shown on the right are in Back Street. More can be seen in High Street.
If you are really observant you may be able to find bits of the old narrow-gauge railway lines which used to run up from the stone crushing plant to the quarries. Again they have been 'recycled' to provide reinforcement. Bits are visible along the bank on the west side of Station Road car park.
The Station Master's Hat!
Bampton Heritage and Visitor Centre was recently able to reunite a man with the hat he had loved as a child. Melanie Rendell, the daughter of Patrick Rendell, had contacted the Centre to try to locate this hat, which her father, Patrick Rendell had been given as a child in the 1950’s.
Patrick was born and grew up in Bampton in the 1950’s and 1960’s, his father being Michael Rendell, organist and choirmaster at St Michael’s Church in Bampton. He was given the hat by Wilf Jeffries, who was made temporary Stationmaster at Bampton, upon the promotion of the previous stationmaster to Exeter. (Wilf was also Sunday School teacher, verger and bellringer at the church, this last a hobby taken up by Patrick). Later he lent the hat to the Bampton (Telephone) Museum, but lost track of it when the Museum closed in the 1990’s.
Ken Mills, the Artefacts Curator of the Centre, was able to tell Patrick that the hat was not only safe, but was currently on display at the Heritage Centre in St Michael’s Church, Bampton. Ken arranged a visit so that Patrick could be reunited with the hat. Patrick, accompanied by three generations of his family, was able to revisit Bampton – he commented that Bampton was a lot neater and better preserved than it had been in the days when he grew up there!
For more information about the railway, there is an excellent book (whose front cover is shown above) with numerous photographs and drawings.
The video shown on the left features the Exe Valley Railway, including Bampton, as well as the Culm Valley Light Railway and the Tiverton Branch.
It is still available from various outlets via the internet. Archive film is included which retraces journey's along the line, including Bampton Station.
A web-site has now been developed (2015) concerning the whole length of the tracks - ExeValleyRailway.com