A Brief History of Buckfastleigh Station.
The facilities at Buckfastleigh and indeed the line itself was designed and engineered by the South Devon Railways’ engineer P.J Margary, who had also been the engineer of the Newton Abbot and Moretonhampstead Railway, hence the station layouts on the Buckfastleigh line are almost identical to those of the Moretonhampstead Line. The Buckfastleigh layout is almost identical to that at Bovey albeit in mirror image.

Building work at Buckfastleigh was started in 1867 but due to the company running out of money they remained part built for a period of three years, work finally recommencing in 1870 and the buildings were complete by September of that year.

The original facilities at Buckfastleigh consisted of a 290ft main platform with the station building, a goods shed with one goods siding leading into it and a loop line with a 120ft platform.

The plan of the main station building was a copy of that at Bovey, it was 63 ft long in total, comprising of a main block that was 38ft long, at either end of the main block was a narrower flat roofed add-on that was 12ft 6in long by 13ft wide. The one on the south end of the main block housed the Ladies WC and the Gents WC and urinals. The one on the north end of the main block housed the Lamp and Coal Stores. Inside the main block was, from the north end, the station office, 10ft long by 17ft 3in wide, booking hall and general waiting room, 18ft long by 18ft 6in wide and a ladies waiting room, 10ft long by 17ft 3in wide. There was no canopy provide for shelter on the platform.

The goods shed was the same size as that at Ashburton, 39ft long by 35ft wide and it was felt by the board of the railway that this was holey inadequate for an industrial town such as Buckfastleigh. They asked for an estimate on the cost of an extension but nothing seems to have come of this.

The one goods siding at Buckfastleigh was soon found to be totally inadequate and the goods loop was often used to store and unload wagons using the small platform provided, but this was highly unsuitable for the job making extra work for station staff and local merchants alike. It was however useful for unloading horse wagons for the local race course, on race days specials where run to bring the horses and spectators to Buckfastleigh and then to take them home again at the end of the day.

In 1878 the Directors’ made a visit to Buckfastleigh, to see for themselves what could be done to improve the over crowding situation. They arrived to find all the available space for wagons full, and where informed that there were still another 30 wagons waiting at Totnes until space became available. They recommended that the sidings at Buckfastleigh be rearranged, the goods shed to be extended and a goods office be built, provision of a loading bank with an additional 5 ton crane, a carriage dock at the south end of the platform and a shelter to be provided on the platform. Building work commenced in the winter of 1881 and was completed in 1882. The work actually done was; the siding and loop points were moved 100ft further north to extend the present siding space. An additional siding to the west of the existing siding was put in and provided with a 135ft long loading bank at the end. The goods shed was extended from 39ft to 89ft long and a lean-to goods office was built and the platform was provided with a canopy the length of the main structure, 38ft.

After these improvements the Buckfastleigh company made no more improvements to the station, the next improvements did not come about until 1906/7 when the line had become part of the Great Western Railway.

There where however plans draw up in 1898 by the GWR who had wanted improvements at Buckfastleigh since 1890. The scheme estimated at £4,035 involved updating the station into a passenger crossing station with the platform on the loop line being extended to match that of the main platform and for it to be used for up passenger trains and the existing platform to be used for down passenger trains. A 21 lever signal box was to be provided on the up platform and the station would be fully signalled and interlocked inline with the Board of Trade requirements at the time. It would also have included a ground frame with hut to work the points at the north end of the layout, as these were too far away to be controlled directly from the main box under the Board of Trade guidelines at the time, it would however have been bolt locked by the main box to maintain the interlocking.
This scheme was dropped as it was seen as excessive for such a location and that the money could be better spent else where.

In 1905 the Traffic Committee of the GWR authorised a scheme to provide extra mileage sidings, another extension of the goods shed and its office, an enlargement of the booking office and for the station to be fully signalled and interlocked to current Board of Trade standards. The 1898 plans of creating a passenger crossing station were abandoned and the loop was to become a goods loop only, the signal box too was to be located closer to the north end of the layout on the same side as the station buildings. Thanks to the a relaxation by the Board if Trade of the distance that manual point could be worked, now 250yrds, the box was placed 250yrds from the south loop points which afforded it better views of the north end of the layout which is where most of the moves took place and also done away with the need for a ground frame and hut. The work did not how ever begin until 1906, with slight adjustments it was completed in 1907. The works done were; extension at the north end of the station building, demolishing the original coal and lamp stores, this created an extra two rooms, a parcels office and the Stationmasters office. The platform canopy was also extended to match, the main building was now 54ft 9in. To replace the coal and lamp stores a pagoda hut was built to the south of the station building.

The goods shed office was extended at both ends, this gave more office space and a Weighbridge house for the newly installed cart weighbridge next to the office.

The goods shed itself was also extended for the second time, this time though it was a 38ft steel frame and corrugated iron structure. Although this extension appears to have been done slightly later than the rest of the work, somewhere around 1908.

The Signal Box was built as described above, it was a GWR type 7d box with 27 levers, a stud type frame and was officially opened on 17th December 1906. Along with the resignalling of the station, the loop became goods only, the siding and loop connections were moved further north with a spur provided for the loop and an extra siding put in.
In 1907 it was decided to put in a forth siding, this saw the works at Buckfastleigh completed. No other major infrastructure changes happened at Buckfastleigh after 1907 until the Dart Valley Railway took over the running of the line.

To be continued ...