Wednesday 13 July 2022

Bidding For Bideford

 How Possible? How Much?

Todays Barnstaple Station was once Barnstaple Junction with routes splitting to Ilfracombe and Bideford as shown above. Looking North from the footbridge at the end of the plasters in the good old days, we see the complex junctions that were then in everyday use.
Below we see a train arriving from ilfracombe, perhaps a portion of the Atlantic Coast Express which would eventually pull into London Waterloo.
Turning through 180 degrees, we can see the junctions looking south, again in those "good old days".
Then came simplification for much reduced services ...
... next the footbridge, signal box and junction are gone ...
... until today, nothing travels north of the former junction, now reduced to a single platform.
If we turn back and look north again, we can immediately see that the road infrastructure is completely changed.
On the far side of the car park is a huge junction - but there may be a way through to the former track bed.
The road is for buses only and the footpath leads, under another bit of the junction and through some scrub ...
... to join the footpath and cycle track (The South West Coast Path trading as The Tarka Trail) that has replaced the single track railway.
A speaker at the Lib Dem's "campaign for re-instatement" meeting suggested that a cycleway alongside a single track railway line would be entirely feasible as has been done in other reopening locations.
The next obstacle would be the bridge over the Fremington Pill, an inlet from the River Taw.
No room for trains and bikes, so a widened structure would be needed - not cheap, but well within the budget of a possible reopening.

Clearances are tight as you approach Instow ...
... and an extra arch would be needed at the bridge under the north end of Marine Parade.
A real level crossing would be needed at the other end of the Marine Parade ...
... where only a fake gate is in place next to the preserved signal box.
Thereafter it should be straightforward along the banks of the River Torridge ...
... and soon you are at Bideford!
And possibly, one fine day in a year or so, you will be trundling aboard your hybrid hydrogen Hayabusa driven multiple unit train into one of the existing platforms at Bideford Station.
Just beyond the former station platforms, incidentally, is the small beginnings of a heritage line that, it is hoped, will run on to Torringtton ...
... just like those good old days!

Yes, it is feasible at a reasonable cost. Let us hope that the LibDems can muster enough support to make it happen.

Alas, trundling by train from Bideford to Ilfracombe seems far less likely.

Tomorrow's blog reveals why!

Wellingborough at the Weekend
This event, organised by the Wellingborough  Museum and the 794 Preservation group ...
... is always a "jolly good show" and well worth a visit. Too far for fbb, sadly, but a pleasant day our if you are a bit nearer than sunny Seaton.

Catering Quality Compromised
Like most felines, Mr Tubbles is a fussy eater. Whiskas "pouches" are just about acceptable, but recently purchased offerings from Tesco's own brand are refused as if infused with poison! So, after his usual short nap (0930 to 1630 approx) ...
Mr Tubbles was offered something of quality for his tea.
Surely something called "Claude's Bistro" would offer himself a taste of delight and gustational quality?

No! He marched off in disgust. It was only later that his staff (the fbbs) examined the side of the packet.
Claude's Bistro is a Tesco brand! Mrs fbb, who made the purchase, had no idea - but Mr Tubbles knew straight away.

You cannot fool a determined cat!

 Next Non-Opening blog : Thursday 15th July 


  1. The line through Oakhampton was double track so there is room for a cycleway on the second trackbed. This won't be the case on the Bideford branch so would be expensive to do. The South Tynedale Railway managed it by being a narrow gauge railway on a former standard gauge track bed.

  2. Andrew Kleissner13 July 2022 at 11:35

    True too for the Bure Valley (15" gauge) where I think the railway was devised as a way of paying for the footpath.

  3. My understanding is that the railway route between Barnstaple and Ilfracombe is rather indirect, and when the service was withdrawn, the stopping services took a similar time to the bus route. As such, even if it is possible at a "reasonable" cost, whether it would be of any great benefit is highly questionable.
    I would have thought that the money could be put to better use elsewhere.