Topsham set for rail celebrations

EXCITEMENT is mounting ahead of an array of celebrations set to take place in Topsham, marking the 150th birthday of the Avocet Rail Line.

Local councils and voluntary organisations from communities along the 11 mile line, as well as members from the Avocet Line Rail Users Group (ALRUG), have spent nearly two years preparing for the party.

Looking forward to the anniversary on May 1, ALRUG chair Tony Day said: “I think we have something for everyone, on the day itself and in the weeks before and afterwards.

“Ours 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.”

The Avocet rail link between Exmouth and Exeter was opened in 1861 when, at 10.45am, a train headed for Exmouth with a large group of civic and railway dignitaries.

At about the same time this May 1, a special train will carry a party of VIPs to mirror the opening celebrations.

In Topsham, an open day will be held in the signal box at the town’s train station.

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The museum, based in The Strand, is mounting a special exhibition of the history of the line throughout the summer, with an oral history feature “Railway Memories: Topsham to the Quay” from the second half of May.

And if all this wasn’t enough, Amyas Crump will give a talk, entitled Trains Around Topsham at Matthews Hall on April 26.

The following afternoon, Amyas will lead the first of two guided walks to find memories of steam.

For a full programme of all events taking place, visit the following website address at: