Unlike the lines of the 50s and 60s, which had inherited at least the residue of an operational railway with track still laid and rolling stock and equipment available, the L&BR had been totally stripped, its rolling stock cut up for scrap and the rails ripped from the landscape with only the earthworks and station buildings left as mute witness. Back in the 60's and 70's it was believed feasible to rebuild a railway on the proceeds of selling pens and T shirts at fetes, model railway exhibitions and traction engine rallies.
The turning point was the opening of the LynBarn Railway in 1994. To quote an L&B founding Member, “When we laid the track at The Milky Way, the biggest track I had ever laid was 00! For the cost of a bit of diesel, we could make £100 a day. Without the LynBarn, there would be no Woody Bay or Chelfham.”
At the end of 1994, Woody Bay Station became available and an appeal was launched to buy the property Together with the money coming in from the LynBarn railway, the station was secured in 1995, and over the following years the newly formed Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Company and the supporting Trust negotiated the purchase of adjoining land and progressed construction work eventually running our first public train service 17th July 2004.
It may have taken several years but Phase 1 is now complete and Woody Bay is a wonderful location and the public certainly appreciate that North Devon is one of the most beautiful locations in the World for a narrow gauge railway.
Having got this far you would think it would get easier, but reinstating the railway to Blackmoor and then Wistlandpound and back to Lynton is even more demanding in terms of the planning requirements (see HERE) and the considerable funds required to reinstate the railway.
Our aim is to consolidate the operations at Woody Bay whilst working on extending the line first to Blackmoor and then on to Wistlandpound. Once we have relocated our operational base to Blackmoor, we will then set about extending the railway to Caffyns and then to Lynton before undertaking the task of rebuilding the railway to Barnstaple.
We can do this - but it does need your support to ensure that future generations can once again enjoy this jewel in the crown of British narrow-gauge railways.
“Perchance it's awake!”
The present organisation was not the first formal group to consider reopening a part of the L&B. The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Society held an inaugural meeting in March 1962 but by May, the Committee had decided that "re-opening of the complete line was obviously impossible, due to the considerable amount of expense involved". The cost of rebuilding just a part of the line from Lynton to Dean Steep was estimated at £5,000 [£75,000 at 2013 values*] a cost which was considered to be beyond the Society by itself. In 1964 only three members attended the February AGM and voted to disband the Society.
The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway shop at Woody Bay Station sells several books for those who want to read the more detailed history of the railway. We are lucky that so many photos were taken of the line while it was running. There is also a surprising amount of cine film.
There are also a number of linked articles about various aspects of the L&B on Wikipedia.
Books, models, and other L&B merchandise can also be purchased from our Online Shop!
On Monday 30 September 1935, the day after the railway closed, a wreath of bronze chrysanthemums was laid on the Barnstaple Town Station stop block. Sent by Woody Bay resident Paymaster Captain Thomas Alfred Woolf, R.N. (Retired.) it bore a black-edged, hand-written card on which was written:
“To Barnstaple & Lynton Railway, with regret and sorrow from a constant user and admirer. Perchance it is not dead but sleepeth".