Memories and Stories from Alphington Halt and the Teign Valley Railway Line
Alphington Halt was opened on the 2nd April 1928. It had a 100 ft wooden platform and a corrugated iron shelter, which were reached by a track that lead from a footpath. The guard of the last train passing through the Halt at the end of the day was responsible for extinguishing the platform lights. Alphington Halt was closed down on the 9th June 1958.
The Teign Valley Railway Line
On the approach to Ide Station/Halt the locomotives always whistled and you could set your watch by them.
A past resident of Woodville Road remembers being kept awake at night by the trains. He has memories of cattle being brought to market by the trains; he also remembers a wood shed/yard, and a scrap metal company close to the railway line.
Upon waking up at 7 am a villager has memories of the train departing Alphington Halt and leaving trails of steam that drifted up through the trees.
Engine Drivers and Guards
The engine drivers would very often drop farming folk off between the Halts/Stations so that they had a shorter walk home through the fields. The driver's reward was either some vegetables or a sack of potatoes.
Crafty passengers who purchased tickets that enable them to travel the line as many times as they liked for a certain period, for example a week, knew that if the guard wore glasses the chances were that he would not see the expiry date on the ticket. This way these passengers knew they could use their out-of-date ticket for at least one more day before having to purchase a new one. This little trick also worked if there were many people in the queue at a station showing the guard their tickets. The crafty passengers would just 'flash' their ticket at the guard and move on quickly.
Some people have memories of the papers being delivered to village halts and stations by train and the guard picking up the bundles of papers and throwing them out onto the platform.
One villager remembered one train driving learning out of his locomotive's window at a station and shouting, 'Why don't you put that bloody signal down!'
Large amounts of goods traffic used the line in particular the quarry trains that supplied the materials that were used for constructing the roads. These roads were being built to accommodate the increasing numbers of cars that would eventually lead to the decrease of passengers using the trains.
Close to Heathfield Station there was a public house and a fish and chip shop. People have memories of having a fish and chip meal and then a drink before boarding the train to return home.
One local remembers a tractor driver losing control of his tractor and ending up across the railway line. His father ran up the line to stop the train before it crashed into the stranded tractor.
The reason for building the Perridge and Culver Tunnels was so that the family living in Perridge House did not have to see the trains passing by.
It is said that a headless ghost haunts the Perridge Tunnel at the Longdown Station end. Some records say that it is the ghost of a man who committed suicide while others say that he simply tripped up in the tunnel as a train approached. Which ever record is correct the unfortunate man was decapitated and when his body was discovered his head was found 16 feet away. The body, and I assume the head as well, were stored in a lamp hut for three days.
The end of the line
The last passenger train that ran on the Teign Valley Railway Line was pulled by the locomotive Class 2-6-2T No 5533. It left Alphington Halt for St David's on Saturday 7th June 1958 at 9:18pm, quite a number of passengers boarded. On the train's return journey to Heathfield Station several passengers boarded the train while other villagers stood at their garden gates waving goodbye to the train as it disappeared forever into the fading light. As the locomotive crossed the bridge over Ide Lane the last trails of steam rose through the tops of the trees and then dispersed. This was a sight that would never be seen again over Alphington Village.
Many villagers remember quite clearly the day that the last passenger train ran through Alphington. They may not necessarily have boarded the train for that final journey but they do remember with great sadness the train leaving Alphington Halt for the very last time.
A villager remembers some of the rail tracks being taken up on the 4th July 1958.
Another local said that while Ide Station was being demolished a slate slide off the roof from one of the station buildings and hit his brother in the eye.
One person remembers seeing a train carriage seemingly run along part of the old railway line long after it had been closed. Could it have been a ghost train! It turned out to be a carriage on a lorry travelling along an out of view road that followed very closely along the old line and was at just the right height to make it seem that the carriage was actually travelling along the old railway track!
The very last memory related to me was of a quaint little train running along a quaint little railway line.
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick