Southern Railway


Opened: 1935

Closed: 1972

Location code: S50/07

Okehampton signal box
Photograph by John Hinson, 1972

Okehampton was once a key station on the London & South Western Railway's main route to Plymouth through North Devon. Today, the only way to reach Plymouth by rail is via the former Great Western's metals, and the line through Okehampton is reduced to a dead-end single freight line serving the nearby quarry at Meldon. In its heyday, Okehampton could boast passenger and goods facilities, a freight marshalling yard and a locomotive shed with turntable.

The box seen here was opened in 1935 by the Southern Railway to replace the original, cramped L&SW box. It is effectively built to the SR's standard design introduced in the 1920s, but as if to prove that there was no standardisation it has been provided with a roof that combines the features if hipped and gabled arrangements.

It was provided with a 35-lever Westinghouse "A2" frame - like the one illustrated at Reigate, and this must have virtually filled this moderately-sized box.

Through traffic ceased in 1968, when the line was truncated at Meldon Quarry box, a short distance west of Okehampton. The box there closed in 1970, and the double line between there and Okehampton reduced to a single goods line. The box at Coleford Junction (where the Okehampton and Barnstaple lines diverged) closed in 1970, and the line between there and Okehampton was also closed. Although the geographical location of Coleford Junction remained, the line was worked as two parallel single tracks between there and Crediton.

The final stage in the decline of Okehampton signal box came on 10th July 1972, when the box was abolished and the Meldon Quarry line worked as a single line section between Crediton and the quarry.

However, Okehampton box was not demolished as might be expected, and thirty years on it can be found as part of a delightfully restored station.

About the photographs

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson

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