The Old Brixham Railway
For a small branch railway which survived for less than a century, it has a recorded history to be envied. The prospectus of the Dartmouth, Brixham, Torbay, Exeter & North Devon Junction Railway, issued in 1845, would have brought its railway line near the town; however, it failed to have enough support and the scheme was stillborn. There was a second company which included Brixham in its title, the Torquay, Brixham & Dartmouth Railway Company, but its plans did not materialise either. Eventually it was the Dartmouth & Torbay Railway Company which built its railway from Torre to Paignton and later to "Brixham Road", opening a station there on 14th March 1861. It was acknowledged in the Press at the time that "the station is 2 miles from Brixham, rather an inconvenient distance in unfavourable weather". Brixham urged the Dartmouth & Torbay to continue the line to Kingswear via Brixham, but this was rejected unless the town would provide the money. It was therefore left to Richard Wolston to put the proposition to a public meeting in August 1861 that a railway be built to "Furzeham Common, high above the town, so there would be no personal jealousy as to who should benefit most". The architect Julian had completed a survey and it was probably from this that Wolston concluded the cost would be £13,000, "which he thought was a great deal for just 7,000 local residents to raise. He therefore was not going to ask for £600, £700 nor £1,000 from each subscriber - just £10".
There was little support in the town but Wolston was undeterred and later was responsible for the incorporation of the Torbay and Brixham Railway Company. This proposed a railway "from the Parish of Churston Ferrers... by a Junction with the Siding of the Dartmouth & Torbay Railway... and terminating at a point at the southern end of Furzeham Common". From there a tramway was to continue a further 21 chains "wholly situated in the Parish of Brixham" to the north-eastern corner of the Common. The costs were estimated at £16,000 for the railway and £2,000 for the tramway. The original Torbay and Brixham Railway Bill became an Act, receiving Royal Assent in December 1864. Local support was still not forthcoming and eventually Wolston himself took up the majority of the shares. The original contractor defaulted before construction had even started so Wolston took over
© copyright John Pike
Photos courtesy of John Risdon