Locomotive Performance

East Devon Branch Lines

The  Tipton St Johns to Exmouth line was my favourite branch line. I first got to know it in 1955, and over the ensuing years I managed several visits. Initially the M7 0-4-4T reigned supreme, but Exmouth Junction shed (72A) acquired some BR Standard 82xxx 2-6-2T locos, and then a batch of the LMS version of the same type, the 412xx 2-6-2T. They roared up and down the Otter Valley with their 2 or 3 coach loads.
But there were several other lines that made up the "East Devon branches". The Sidmouth branch proper, from Sidmouth Junction to Sidmouth, with it's Otter Valley connections at Tipton St Johns, that I have already mentioned. A little further east was the Seaton branch, and further east still, the amazing Lyme Regis branch, with it's antiquated motive power in the form of the ex LSWR class 0415 4-4-2T. But the busiest of all of the East Devon branches was the Exmouth branch itself, from Exeter Central to Topsham and Exmouth. From this line you could look across the Exe estuary and watch the Western Region main line trains as they passed Powderham and Starcross.
13th July 1955: I  joined M7 0-4-4T no 30676 for a trip down the Exmouth branch on the 4.45pm service from Exeter Central. Journey time was a little over 25 mins, and the max speed 53 mph. [view log of 30676]  

13th July 1955: At Exmouth I joined the 5.21pm service to Tipton St Johns, a 2 coach train hauled by BR Std 2-6-2T no 82019. We reached 52 mph running down to Newton Poppleford. Total journey time was 24 min 07 sec. [view log of 82019]  

13th July 1955: At Tipton St Johns, I changed trains and joined  the service from Sidmouth for the short journey to Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth Junction. M7 0-4-4T no 30023 had a 2 coach load for it's 10 min 07sec journey. [view log of 30023]

To the left the picture shows the Sidmouth (left) and Exmouth (right) lines diverging at Tipton St Johns.  

13th July 1955: At Sidmouth Junction, the plan was to join the 3.00pm Waterloo to West of England Express to Exeter Central, but plans do not always work. The express failed to arrive, so I caught the 6.38pm Honton-Exeter Central "stopper". This was yet another M7 0-4-4T, this time no 30671, on 3 coaches. We kept time nicely to Exeter with a max speed of 54mph down the bank from Whimple. A most enjoyable experience, so the non arrival of the 3.00pm from Waterloo worked in my favour.  [view log of 30671]. I have no note of what took me "down the hill" to St Davids, but I finished off my day with a run to Dawlish on 70021 "Morning Star".

24th July 1955: This was "Lyme Regis" day. So I caught the 12.00pm from Exeter Central to Waterloo, TC Portsmouth, for the run to Axminster with 35023 "Holland Afrika Line". At Axminster, I joined Class 0415 4-4-2T no 30583 on the 1.00pm Lyme Regis branch train. We took 20 min 22 sec (booked 21 min) to reach Lyme Regis, inclusive of the Combpyne stop, max speed 38 mph. I returned on the 2.50pm from Lyme Regis, which took 16 min 21 sec to return to Axminster, max speed 33 mph. [view log of 30583]  I then returned to Exeter Central on 34027 "Taw Valley".

2nd September 1958:  Having started my day at Totnes, travelled to Plymouth, then back to Exeter via Okehampton, I arrived at Sidmouth Junction (34104 from Exeter Central) in time for the 2.04pm Sidmouth branch train. So M7 0-4-4T no 30676 took me as far as Tipton St Johns [view log of 30676] 

Left: Looking north at Tipton St Johns.

 2nd September 1958: At Tipton St Johns, I changed to the 2.21pm Exmouth service. In fact, I didn't change, since I was in the through Waterloo to Exmouth coach off the down "Atlantic Coast Express". We had Ivatt 2-6-2T no 41318 on 3 coaches, and, following a spot of shunting, we were 4 mins late away. The next 24 minutes were superb, as the driver tried to pull back a little time. 61 mph in just over 3 minutes away from Newton Poppleford, with the engine blowing off. But we were still 3 mins late in to Exmouth, tight timings and overtime at Budleigh Salterton saw to that. [view log of 41318]

2nd September 1958: I got another class 2 "Ivatt" on the next section of my "clockwise" circuit of the Exmouth lines. 41306 was on the 2.49pm Exmouth to Exeter Central, with a 5 coach load. We were 3 mins late away, and no attempt was made to pull any of those minutes back. In fact we were 6 late into Exeter Central, although there was a p.w slowing near Polsoe Bridge. Better draw a veil over this one. [view log of 41306]

We now move on to 1962. On Sunday 2nd September the SCTS (Southern Counties Touring Society) ran the "South Western Limited" railtour from Waterloo to Exeter to say farewell to the "Lord Nelsons". 30861 Lord Anson did the honors. The tour included a trip round the Sidmouth Junction, Tipton St Johns, Exmouth, and Exeter branch circuit, using a pair of M7 0-4-4T locos, nos 30024 and 30025. 30024 lead from Sidmouth Junction and 30025 from Exmouth. The load was 7 coaches, and the maximum speed reached was 54 mph, near East Budleigh. [view log of 30024 and 30025]

28th February 1965: The L.C.G.B "East Devon Railtour" included in its itinerary a trip on the Seaton Branch. The loco was BR 2-6-4T no 80041 and the load 4 coaches. I did not record speeds, so it is passing times only. The loco is seen, top, running round at Seaton.  [view log of 80041]. The tour then continued from Seaton Junction to Sidmouth Junction with 35022, which made a dreadful climb up to Honiton tunnel, 20mph. Ugh! 

28th February 1965: The L.C.G.B "East Devon Railtour" then continued with a trip from Sidmouth Junction to Sidmouth, then back to Tipton St Johns, the loco being GW class 5700 0-6-0PT no 4666 with 4 coaches. Then the full 10 coach load, double headed with 4666 and "Ivatt" no 41206 double heading from Tipton St Johns to Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth, and, after reversal, on to Exeter Central. [view log of 4666 and 41206]