Dartmouth and Torbay Steam Railway
Local historian John Risdon talked to Bishopsteignton Probus Club about extending the railway from Newton Abbot to Dartmouth. He said the first people to travel on the new line to Torquay in 1848 must have found the 20 minutes journey incredibly quick compared to pushing a cart or travelling by horse and cart.
Extending the line a further eleven miles to Dartmouth started in 1858, reached Paignton in August 1859 and by Christmas that year some seventy nine thousand passengers had travelled to Paignton. It was interesting to hear that before the railway was built, Paignton was spelt Paington but the sign for the rail station mistakenly spelt it Paignton and it has been spelt that way ever since.
Building the rail line involved 300 men and the viaducts required vast quantities of local limestone. The navvies dug a tunnel for 495 yards through Greenway at just one yard per day.
In 1864, the first train reached Kingswear and passengers could go from there by ferry to Dartmouth or by ship to Cairo, Canada, New York and even Australia. The ferry to Dartmouth took passengers to Dartmouth railway station which did not and never has had a train.
The Beeching railway cuts closed the line to Dartmouth and in 1972 it was sold to Dart Valley Railway.
John Risdon (left) is thanked by Probus Club member Tom Collins.