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HER Number:MDV72928
Name:Tavistock to Bere Alston Railway


Section of the 19th century Waterloo to Plymouth main line railway opened in 1890 and closed in 1967, from Bere Alston to the Wallabrook Viaduct, north-east of Tavistock.


Grid Reference:SX 465 710
Map Sheet:SX47SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBere Ferrers
Civil ParishGulworthy
Civil ParishTavistock
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBERE FERRERS
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK HAMLETS

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • RAILWAY (Late, XIX - 1887 AD to 1890 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

'London & South Western Railway' marked. Map object based on this source.

Thomas, D. St. J., 1981, A Regional History of Railways of Great Britain, 122-3 (Monograph). SDV168.

Lydford to Devonport railway opened on 2nd June 1890 and was worked by LSWR.

Smith, J. R., 2006, Bere Alston to Tavistock Railway: Archaeological Assessment, 10-12, 36; figures 1-42 (Report - Assessment). SDV336796.

Part of the late 19th century main line railway line from Waterloo to Plymouth. A company called the Plymouth, Devonport and South Western Junction Railway was formed in 1883 to construct a 22.5 mile line from Plymouth via Devonport, St Budeauxt, Bere Alston and Tavistock to join up with the existing London & South Western line at Lydford. The board included the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, Lord St Levan and the Duke of Bedford who provided most of the land. The work took three years and cost £793,000. The line opened in 1890 and was closed in 1968, although a branch line from Bere Alston to Plymouth and Gunnislake remains.

Buck, C., 2011, Tavistock-Bere Alston Railway, Devon: Archaeological Impact and Mitigation Recording Report, 6-9, 11; figures 1-5 (Report - non-specific). SDV348278.

In October 2008 work was undertaken to convert the section of disused railway line between Shillamill Viaduct and Abbotsfield Bridge to a footpath and cycleway. This included clearance of vegetation, cutting of surface drains, safety fencing to bridges and parapets and safety works with fencing to two mineshafts. The track bed, which still contains the original ballast stone, was scraped and levelled to form a stable surface.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

'Dismantled Railway' marked. Map object based on this source.

Buck, C., 2015, Buctor Farm, Tavistock (Report - Assessment). SDV359746.

This study was commissioned by the landowner on behalf of Natural England as part of a Higher Level Environmental Stewardship Agreement Scheme and produced by Cornwall Archaeological Unit, Cornwall Council.

Refer to Section 4.2.7 for the historical background. The railway is substantially intact, with only two bridges having been demolished between Bere Alston and Tavistock station. The remainder of the civil engineering works are in place and suitable for reuse. The line is a fine example of a late Victorian main-line railway, and one of the last examples to be built in the west of England. From an archaeological and historical perspective, there are good examples of railway overbridges and under bridges, embankments, cuttings, a tunnel and a viaduct, all of which have excellent individual and group value and which clearly demonstrate the technology of railway construction.

The trackbed is overgrown in many places but is essentially unobstructed, with the original ballast stone in evidence. From Lazy Bench Hill Bridge (Site 11.5) to Buctor Lane Bridge (Site 11.2), the railway line continues north on a shelf cut into the hillside, initially with a high retaining wall on the east side of the formation, and then embankment. The route is clear of vegetation for the majority of the length, as it has been used for forestry access in recent times. Immediately south of Buctor Lane Bridge either the trackbed level has sunk or the ballast has been removed, causing a dip in the formation.
Site 11.1: The Permanent Way Hut (Fig 20) is constructed of standard pre-cast concrete and stands beside the west side of the line (looking north). It is very overgrown with trees and scrub, and is in poor condition. It appears to have suffered from vandalism, as most of the wall panels have gone and the roof is cracked and partly collapsed.

High significance rating, given their degree of survival.

Site should be retained, with a minimal amount of disturbance, however it is recognised that there are plans to re-instate the railway line, which may impact upon structures and archaeological/historical features throughout its length (and within the study area), the Shillamill Viaduct being perhaps the greatest recipient.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV168Monograph: Thomas, D. St. J.. 1981. A Regional History of Railways of Great Britain. A Regional History of Railways of Great Britain. 1. Unknown. 122-3.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336796Report - Assessment: Smith, J. R.. 2006. Bere Alston to Tavistock Railway: Archaeological Assessment. Cornwall County Council Report. 2006R006. A4 Stapled + Digital. 10-12, 36; figures 1-42.
SDV348278Report - non-specific: Buck, C.. 2011. Tavistock-Bere Alston Railway, Devon: Archaeological Impact and Mitigation Recording Report. Cornwall Council Report. 2011R093. A4 Stapled + Digital. 6-9, 11; figures 1-5.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV359746Report - Assessment: Buck, C.. 2015. Buctor Farm, Tavistock. Cornwall Archaeological Unit. 2015R055. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV51334Parent of: Abbotsfield Road Bridge (Monument)
MDV63009Parent of: Bere Alston Station (Monument)
MDV72996Parent of: Bridge over Former Railway (Monument)
MDV72994Parent of: Bridge over the Former Railway at Hocklake Farm (Monument)
MDV72946Parent of: Bridge taking Railway over Farm Lane (Monument)
MDV73002Parent of: Chipping Bin beside the Railway Line (Monument)
MDV73017Parent of: Crease Lane Bridge (Monument)
MDV73013Parent of: Crowndale Bridge, Bere Alston to Tavistock Railway (Monument)
MDV73016Parent of: Crowndale Cattle Creep (Monument)
MDV72927Parent of: Former Railway Bridge over Lane to Dean Farm (Monument)
MDV72992Parent of: Gawton Bridge (Monument)
MDV51339Parent of: Lazy Bench Hill Bridge (Monument)
MDV72997Parent of: Railway Bridge over a Track (Monument)
MDV73012Parent of: Railway Bridge over Farm Lane (Monument)
MDV72993Parent of: Railway Bridge over Lane at Higher Gawton (Monument)
MDV72991Parent of: Railway Bridge over Lane to Gawton Farm (Monument)
MDV72929Parent of: Railway Bridge over Lane to Tuckermarsh (Monument)
MDV72990Parent of: Railway Bridge over Lane to west of Rumleigh Lodge (Monument)
MDV72998Parent of: Railway Bridge over Track to Broadwell Farm (Monument)
MDV72995Parent of: Railway Storage Hut (Monument)
MDV73001Parent of: Railway Storage Hut (Monument)
MDV72947Parent of: Rumleigh Bridge (Monument)
MDV72999Parent of: Shillamill Tunnel & South Portal (Monument)
MDV73000Parent of: Shillamill Tunnel North Portal (Monument)
MDV51335Parent of: Shillamill Viaduct (Building)
MDV72945Parent of: Tuckermarsh Bridge (Monument)
MDV72954Parent of: Well at Wood & Honeyland (Monument)
MDV116034Related to: Deep Lane, Shillamill (Monument)
MDV80869Related to: Gill's Shaft at Crowndale Mine, Tavistock (Monument)
MDV80868Related to: Shaft at Crowndale Mine, Tavistock (Monument)
MDV3956Related to: Wheal Crowndale Mine, Tavistock (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4099 - Bere Alston to Tavistock Railway
  • EDV5659 - Archaeological Monitoring and Recording of Part of the Tavistock to Bere Alston Railway Line
  • EDV7058 - Archaeological Management Plan, Buctor Farm, Tavistock (Ref: 2015R055)

Date Last Edited:Aug 6 2019 2:51PM