Part of an old railway line that once carried the ‘Whippet’ train between Churston and Brixham could be reopened as a footpath. A local project team was set up to create the footpath, which would allow walkers to retrace the route of the line which was closed as part of Dr Beeching’s rail reforms.
May 13 next year will mark 60 years since Dr Beeching’s ax fell on the Brixham line and Furzeham Port railway station, which was first opened in 1868. A series of lectures and Presentations in the coming months will promote the Brixham Railway Heritage Trail project. .
The goal of the three-stage project is to create a marked trail along the old two-mile railway line. Starting at the site of the long-demolished Brixham Railway Station at Harbor View Close, the trail will continue past the site of the old Brixham signal box opposite Furzeham School, along footpaths and walkways which now cover part of the tracks, past the Old Railway Gardens and railway tunnel at Sun Valley Close and towards Northam Lane, where there was a bridge.
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It will weave its way between houses and other buildings which have been built on the lanes in Brixham, before heading into the North Boundary Road park and along the existing platform which is then complete from that point until ‘at the Bridge Road bridge in Churston, climbing and plunging through the railway trenches and embankments along the way.
At major points of interest along the Railway Heritage Trail, the aim is to install a series of information boards, plaques and route markers so people can learn about the relatively little history known to the Brixham Railway.
Key points include the site of the old station, the site of the signal box and bridges – six of the original eight of which remain. There will be information on the construction of the branch line as the path moves through cuts, bridges and along embankments before reaching Churston station, previously called Brixham Road Station.
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Team leader Glen Gardner encourages anyone who may have memories, photographs or films of the old spur to come forward. The search for historical artefacts is ongoing, including station registers and journals, tickets, books, magazines and anything else related to the Brixham branch line.
Memorabilia will be part of special exhibits and presentations to mark the 60th anniversary next year. Mr Gardner said: “We are currently in communication with various key stakeholders regarding the viability of opening the old branch line, installing plaques and information boards explaining the history and the recruitment of teams to clear the line to form a safe and interesting. pedestrian path for the pleasure of all.
“Currently, the project team is a voluntary group of interested people who each have their own skills and knowledge. We will be seeking more support for the project, including sponsorship, funding, and volunteer help to clean up the old fork to create a safe trail, as well as “testing the waters” for interest.
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A Facebook page has been created to disseminate information about the project. Anyone with memorabilia can bring them to the Brixham Museum, which endorses and supports the project, where they will be recorded and later become part of planned exhibitions. Additionally, those who remember traveling on the ‘Whippet’ train between Brixham and Churston are encouraged to get in touch so that their experiences can be recorded.