History of the Line 1889-1956
The Great Western Railway caved into pressure from the Board of Trade on the 25th March 1889 and introduced working by the Train Staff and Ticket method, together with South Devon Block Telegraph instruments. The block working continued as before but with the added safety of the Train Staff and Ticket working imposed over the top. The line was divided into two sections, Totnes to Buckfastleigh (a square, red staff) and Buckfastleigh to Ashburton (a round, blue staff). Staverton was made an intermediate block post at some point in the early 1900’s, this facilitated better timings for the passenger trains whilst the goods was running on the line.

Improvements came at Buckfastleigh in 1906 with the GWR traffic committee authorising a £3,261 payment to improve the station as a whole on the 20.12.1905. This included extra mileage sidings, extension of the goods shed and booking office and improvements to the locking and signalling of the station.
The signalling improvements provided a signal box for the first time, a GWR Type 7d box, ordered in March 1906. It had a stud frame with 22 worked levers and 5 spares. It was officially opened on 17.12.1906. The Station layout now was basically the main platform road (290ft platform), a loop with a small platform (120ft) and six sidings, one of which went into the goods shed. It was still possible when required for two goods or a goods and a passenger train to pass at Buckfastleigh, as long as the passenger train always went through the platform road, the loop not being signalled for passenger traffic.

Improvements came to Staverton in 1912 having been authorised by the GWR Traffic Committee on the 25th May 1911. The work estimated at £460 was to update the signalling and interlock the station in accordance with the latest regulations and practices. The signal box was ordered in October 1911 and brought into use on the 20th November 1912. All previous signals were replaced, control of the points and associated lock and bolts for the main line crossing gates were brought into the ‘box and all interlocked, there were also working distants, these being changed to fixed in 1923 inline with GWR practices elsewhere.

Ashburton’s signalling and layout remained almost the same right through to the closing of the branch in 1962. There was a 2-lever ground frame installed at some time around the late 1890’s which controlled the points for the loop and the goods siding but everything else remained unchanged.
In 1911 it was decided to upgrade the signalling and interlocking along with Staverton, the payment was authorised on the same day (25th May 1911) for an estimate of £440. This scheme would have seen the layout unaltered, just the installation of a 16-lever frame ‘box, update the signals, fit facing point locks and interlock it all.
It was then decided to amend the scheme and improve the station layout by putting a second connection to the Tucker’s siding which would enable the abolishment of “tow roping”. The second, revised plan was approved by the Traffic Committee on the 9th January 1913 with an estimated cost of £812. The ‘box was ordered on the 18th February 1913 and was actually built in the Reading signal works. It was an 18-lever stud frame box but the outbreak of war prevented the box from ever reaching Ashburton and was in fact used as a temporary box at Reading West Junction in 1915. The Ashburton Signal Box nameplate was ordered along with the box and was actually delivered to the station, found in the engine shed in the 1960’s it is now on display in the museum at Buckfastleigh Station.
Around 1925 the 2 lever ground frame was replaced by a 3 lever ground frame on which the working of the home signal was added.