Bideford Railway Heritage Centre
The Heritage Centre is at Bideford’s former railway station. The railway opened in 1855, being extended from Barnstaple and ran onwards to Torrington in 1871. For many years direct trains ran to and from London Waterloo, including the famous “Atlantic Coast Express.” Sadly the line fell victim of the “Beeching Axe” and was closed to regular passengers in 1965 and to freight in 1982. The Bideford Railway Station Group was formed to restore the railway as a visitor attraction in the town and to compliment the popular Tarka Trail footpath/cycleway which runs through the site.
Double track was relaid through the station and the Signal Box was rebuilt on its original site. Historic rolling stock was returned to the site, including a carriage which serves refreshments and also operates as a Tarka Trail Museum. The Signal Box and railway parcels van are open to the public, with an interactive interpretation centre showing the history of the railway, together with artefacts from the line on display.
A diesel locomotive and Guards Van are currently being restored and it is planned to operate this along the short section of relaid track once again to give rides to visitors. The Heritage Centre is operated by volunteers who hold working parties on Wednesdays. New volunteers and members are always welcome – see website for details.