South Devon confirms golden anniversary celebrations

While there will be many activities and events going on throughout the year to mark 50 years since part of the GWR Ashburton branch reopened as the Dart Valley Railway, the key centrepiece events are the April 6-14 steam gala and the July 19-21 diesel gala, the South Devon Railway has confirmed.

Two locomotives which were based at Buckfastleigh in the early days will be revisiting the line.

Mike Little’s GWR Collett 0-4-2T No. 1450 will be bringing its auto trailer No. 178. Originally numbered 4850, the locomotive first entered service at Oxford in July 1935. It was renumbered 1450 and reallocated to Slough in April 1951.

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Four years after standing down as British Railways chairman, axeman Dr Richard Beeching was back – to reopen the line to Buckfastleigh as the Dart Valley Railway, on April 5, 1969. GWR 0-6-0PT No. 6412 hauled the first train. JOHN BRODRIBB/SDR

A return to Oxford in September 1959 was followed by further reallocations to Exeter (July 1962), Taunton (November 1963) and Yeovil Town (October 1964) before a final move to Exmouth Junction in February 1965.

1450 was finally withdrawn from service by BR in May 1965, after a working life totalling 823,012 miles.

The 1935-built auto tank spent its early life in preservation at the Dart Valley and following its sale moved to the Dean Forest Railway, ending up at the Severn Valley Railway in March 2014.

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It will be joined by Hugh Shipton’s auto-fitted GWR pannier No. 6430 from Llangollen.

Read more in Issue 252 of HR – on sale now!

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Sam Hewitt