A Basic History of the Line.
The Buckfastleigh, Totnes & South Devon Railway, between Totnes and Buckfastleigh, with an intermediate station at Staverton, received it's act of parliament, for construction of the line, on the 25th July 1863. On the 26 May 1865 it was had a second act passed to extend the line to Ashburton.
The line was built to Brunel's broad gauge of 7ft 01/4 ins and was officially opened on the 1st May 1872.

The line was operated on behalf of the BTSDR by the South Devon Railway until the 1st February 1875 when the SDR became a part of the Great Western Railway who then took over the running of the line. Conversion of the broad gauge line to standard gauge was done over the weekend of 21-22 May 1892
The BTSDR remained until 1st July 1897 when it was absorbed by the GWR.

The Great Western Railway became part of British Railways on the 1st January 1948 where its steady decline continued until the with drawl of passenger services on the 3rd November 1958. Freight traffic ceased nearly four years later on the 10th September 1962 and the line was closed completely.

The Dart Valley Railway LTD was incorporated on the 25th June 1965 and the line to Buckfastleigh was purchased but the section to Ashburton had been ear marked for improvements to the A38. The DVR obtained a Light Railway Order on the 1st April 1969 and started operating services from the 5th April.

In 1972 the DVR bought the Paignton to Kingswear branch from BR and started to run services on that line too.
Through the 1980's the line struggled to maintain the numbers of visitors seen in the 1970s and by 1990, the Dart Valley Railway finally pulled out to concentrate on its Paignton to Kingswear railway, offering the Buckfastleigh line on a 25-year lease back to the volunteers, who promptly set about saving the branch once again!

Since 1991, the South Devon Railway line has been run as a charitable trust. It has grown steadily from having virtually no locos or rolling stock to become one of the West Country’s top visitor attractions. It now carries over 100,000 passengers a year.

In the year 2000, the South Devon Railway began negotiations with the Dart Valley Railway to buy the freehold of the line and, after the sale price was agreed at £1.15 million, the money was raised and paid over by the SDR via a combination of a share issue, loans and donations, plus operating revenues.
In 2002, the line was then leased by the DVR to the South Devon Railway for 199 years upon condition of a new Transport & Works Order being subsequently granted to the SDR which would then release the final transfer of the freehold title by the DVR for a nominal £1.00 payment this happened on the 8th February 2010 and the South Devon Railway became masters of their own fate.