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Work in Progress: 24th May

It was time this week for a somewhat depleted Thursday Gang to return to the L&BR's second station at Chelfham for today's work party. A couple of jobs were on offer as part of the ongoing clearing and tidying of the site. including the removal of a trailer load of scrap.


1. This is the old L&BR Association Ford Transit van body which has been used as a shed at Chelfham for many years. Recently the tree damaged roof has let the water in and consequently the floor rotted out. With all the equipment from there now relocated or scrapped or burnt it was time to remove the van body from its position on the up platform ready for disposal.

2. The gang pose alongside the van body during a break from the early dismantling.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, the L&BR Association in North Devon used this van for mobile publicity. Inside there were maps, photos and displays of some historical items. The van went to carnivals, rallies and fairs helping to promote the Association, explain the early revivalist plans, recruit new members (including yours truly!), and raise some valuable funds through souvenir sales and donations.

3. The plywood side was cut out first before allowing cables to be attached to drag the van body off the platform.

In 1995 the Ford Transit van went to Woody Bay as it was now uneconomic for roadworthy repairs. After a few years in store under the trees by the concrete fence, eventually the cab and chassis were removed from Woody Bay. At one time local Association members even proposed mounting the van body onto a wagon. Purchases of ex-MoD box vans later made this plan redundant, so the van body was taken to Chelfham as an extra storage shed for the various railway equipment acquired during that period.  

4. The van body is dragged around by the 4x4 truck and moved along the trackbed to a disposal site.

5. The accumulated pile of scrap metal was loaded into the car trailer ready for dispatch to the scrapyard.

6. With the scrap and other items removed out of the way, the excavations of the foundations of the down platform edge can now continue northwards.

7. John Edmonds, who has singlehandedly been quietly excavating the down platform edge foundations, will now be able to continue this project. The request for more imperial-sized blue (with a hint of red!) engineering bricks remains as we hope to begin laying the existing stored bricks later this year - - any extra help with this project would be much appreciated, so please contact

8. Nigel Thompson, Tim Woods and Dave Bloomfield pose in the new gap on the existing up platform edging bricks after the Association van body was removed. This area will be tidied up for some storage of signalling equipment. Thanks also to Martin Andrews who was on site today.

9. More recycling in action as Graham Varney uses the 'Lynton' part of Association van body as a new plywood top cover just made to fit the small trailer.

10. Also recently exposed from the ground is this foundation bracket for the original railway's signalling installation at Chelfham. The bracket and horse are buried in the roadway directly opposite the original site of the signal cabin. Old photos show the point cranks would have been fixed on here.

11. Looking directly down onto the surviving bracket and horse from Chelfham's original signalling system. 

Words and pictures by Nigel Thompson

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