North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway

The North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway was a railway built to serve numerous ball clay pits that lay in the space between the London and South Western Railway's Torrington branch, an extension of the North Devon Railway group, and Halwill, an important rural junction on the North Cornwall Railway and its Okehampton to Bude Line.

Ball clay was an important mineral but its weight and bulk required efficient transportation; the material had been brought to main line railways by a 3 ft (914 mm) gauge tramway. Expanding volumes prompted conversion to a light railway—requiring less complex engineering and operational procedures than a full railway—and it was opened on 27 July 1925.

Passengers were carried in addition to the mineral traffic, but the business largely consisted of workers at the ball clay pits themselves. (Thomas says, "The largest place on the railway is Hatherleigh ... a market town in the centre of a barren countryside, it is badly decayed".)

The conversion from a tramway was overseen by Colonel Stephens, the famous owner and operator of marginal English and Welsh railways. Although in construction details typically Stephens this was visually a Southern Railway branch line . It survived in independent status until nationalisation of the railways in 1948, and continued in operation until 1 March 1965. The northern part from Meeth and Marland, which was reconstructed from the narrow gauge railway, continued to carry ball clay, but not passengers, until August 1982. (Thomas calls the siding "Marsland" on page 77 but this is an error.)

Read more about North Devon And Cornwall Junction Light Railway:  Route

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North Devon And Cornwall Junction Light Railway - Route
... and partly following the alignment of the former tramway, the railway had continuous sharp curves and ruling gradients in the range of 1 in 45 to 1 in 50 ... Clay Co Siding) Meeth Halt Hatherleigh Hole (for Black Torrington) Halwill Junction The line was single throughout, worked by Electric Train Token, and with a maximum speed of 20 mph from Torrington to ...

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