150th Anniversary

Join us in celebrating 150 years of our railway, which was opened on 1st May 1872!

To mark this milestone we will be holding a three day celebration between Saturday 30th April and Monday 2nd May

An intensive train service will operate between Buckfastleigh and Totnes Riverside stations with the addition of a vintage bus service linking Buckfastleigh to Ashburton town, the original terminus of the railway. 

Special displays will illustrate the history of this idyllic branch line and there’ll be a few additions and recreations to bring history to life! Whilst you are with us, why not explore our museum and discover the unique exhibits of ‘Tiny’ of 1868, the only surviving broad gauge locomotive in existence, and the ‘Littleworth Coach’, thought to date from 1848!

What to see and do

In a last-minute change to the planned line-up, 1924, Swindon-built Prairie tank No 4555, the first locomotive to arrive on the then Dart Valley Railway in 1965, is the surprise star guest at the South Devon Railway’s (SDR) 150th anniversary celebrations.

The locomotive will operate along the scenic line beside the River Dart, hauling historic trains of beautifully turned out carriages and authentic goods wagons of the period, including a GWR set operating over the three days. The GWR set includes ‘Clerestory’ saloon 9044, built in 1881 and believed to be the oldest surviving GWR bogie coach in existence.

1901 built 0-6-0 No.813 had been due to visit for the 150th anniversary celebrations, but unfortunately failed just before it was due to head to Buckfastleigh. We are very grateful to our friends at the East Somerset Railway and the Dartmouth Steam Railway for their help in arranging a replacement locomotive at such short-notice.

GWR First Class Saloon 9044, visiting from the Bodmin & Wenford Railway, is expected to see it’s first use on the SDR over the course of this event, operating on the Great Western set of carriages.

The carriage was built in 1881 and is believed to be the oldest surviving GWR bogie coach in existence. Originally used as a family saloon, it has supposedly seen passengers who include King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, and opera singer Madame Patti.

This will provide a first class travel option on certain services and an opportunity to experience what luxurious travel was like from the years when our branch line was in it’s infancy.

Operation of this carriage is subject to final testing and clearance checks.

It is May 1872 and Frank and Eliza are very excited to be at the grand opening of the Buckfastleigh, Totnes and South Devon Railway. Come and join them and hear about how this new railway line will transform the lives of working class people like them.

We are delighted to have Frank and Eliza joining us thanks to the Ceridwen Theatre Company. The actors will be in period Victorian dress over the course of the event, taking you back to the very early days of our railway!

We invite our visitors to join in the celebrations by coming along in period Victorian dress which is sure to fit right in with the historic carriages, stations and our actors!


Child (3-15)£15£11£8
Child (0-2)FreeFreeFree
Senior Citizen£21£16£11
Family Super Saver (2 adults & 2 children)£65£49.50
Premium Compartment
(for up to 6 persons)
Not Currently AvailableNot Currently AvailableNot Currently Available
Disabled / Carer£8.50

Our standard fares are available for single and return journeys on a selected train service.

“Ranger” tickets are also available, allowing unlimited travel on all services, with no need to commit to specific train times and the freedom to ride all day long.

Tickets will be available to purchase on the day from our booking offices, or in advance on our ticket booking site.

Event Timetable

A special timetable will operate for the event which will see an intensive service of passenger trains, including Auto trains and recreation Goods trains.

Three steam locomotives are in use each day, including visiting 1924 built 2-6-2 No.4555, as well as locomotives 2-6-2 “Small Prairie” tank No.5526 and 0-6-0 Pannier Tank No.6430 from our home fleet.

The Working Timetable, with full details of locomotive allocations for enthusiasts, is available here.

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