Celebrating 150 years of Exmouth’s rail link

The Avocet line rail link between Exmouth and Exeter marks its 150th birthday on May 1 with celebrations lasting several weeks. A highlight will be a special train from Exeter to Exmouth carrying a party of VIPs to mirror the opening celebrations on the same day back in 1861.

The line was opened on May 1, 1861 when, at 10.45am, a train headed for Exmouth with a large group of civic and railway dignitaries. At about the same time on Sunday, May 1, 2011, a train will again convey a VIP party to a reception hosted by in Exmouth Town Council in the Town Hall. There will also be a Sustainable Transport Fayre in the town’s central Strand Gardens.

Other events on May 1 will include an open day in the former Topsham signal box, performances by Exmouth Town Band, Exmouth Shanty Men and Great Western Morris, plus a beer festival at Lympstone.

ALRUG, the Avocet Line Rail Users Group, has been planning the birthday party for almost two years.

Chairman Tony Day said: “I think we have something for everyone, on the day itself and in the weeks before and afterwards. Our line is the busiest commuter line in the South West, with nearly 1.2 million passenger journeys a year. The way local people have responded shows just how much they appreciate their local railway.”

Topsham Museum is mounting an exhibition of the history of the line throughout the summer, and Exmouth Museum also has a railway exhibition and will open specially on May 1, when there will also be a display of old photos of the line at Lympstone Sailing Club.

Former railwayman Stephen Derek’s large personal collection “the Evolution of the Avocet Line” will be on display at A la Ronde, Exmouth from April 23.

Most Read

An illustrated talk “By Train to Exmouth – a journey of 150 years” will be given by Richard Giles at Exeter Library on April 13. Amyas Crump will give a talk “Trains Around Topsham” at Matthews Hall on April 26.

On April 30, dancers will enjoy the Avocet 150 Ceilidh in Lympstone Village Hall, and at the same venue Lympstone Film Society will host a railway evening on May 6, which will include short films made for the occasion by Film Society members, as well as historical footage.

Theatre buffs have two treats in store, with an evening of music hall frolics at Exmouth’s Blackmore Theatre on May 7, and a production of Noel Coward’s Still Life” in Lympstone, in June.

For more details of ALRUG’s plans, click on the link.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter