A week’s holiday in the south-west started with a company reunion meal in the RNLI at Poole, Dorset. Wonderful views of the harbour and the lifeboats
parked moored outside the headquarters building. We also had a tour of the training college, and a chance to have a go on the lifeboat simulator – a full bridge simulator with 3D projection through all the cabin windows – allowing you to navigate a lifeboat out of Dover Harbour and rescue people from a sinking ship. It became more interesting when they wound the waves up – it was so realistic that you swayed from side to side to keep your sea legs even though the simulator itself wasn’t moving.
Weekend in Poole, then on to Brunel Manor in Torquay – for more reunions, this time from the church I attended for 20 years (on-and-off) in Hong Kong. Brunel Manor was never occupied by Brunel, but he bought the land for his retirement home, then died before enjoying it. The grand house was built after his death.
He would have had a good sea view, especially as most of these trees wouldn’t have been there 100 years ago.
We had a difficult choice. Should we visit the Paignton to Kingswear railway and have a ride across to Dartmouth on the ferry? Or visit the smaller South Devon Railway (formerly the Dart Valley line)? The South Devon Railway won, partly from nostalgia – I had visited it in its early days about 45 years ago with my parents – and partly from convenience, as there is a large free car park at Buckfastleigh, and we didn’t have to park in Paignton.
We thought we had missed the train we were aiming for, but this GWR small Prairie tank was still in the station due to a signalling problem, so we had plenty of time to get aboard.
The station yard had more diesels than steam on show. No doubt the steam locos were tucked safely away in the engine shed.
The half-hour trip to Totnes was in a 1930’s Collett carriage, and we enjoyed the views of the River Dart – the railway and river run very closely parallel for much of the way.
Pausing at Staverton, the one intermediate station, we were soon under way again.
And arrived at Totnes. The branch station is just outside the main line station, as it dates from the period when British Rail wouldn’t allow preserved lines to share a station. So short sighted.
High speed trains were passing on the main line behind, but not when I was looking at it!
The locomotive then ran around its train and took on water. It’s operations like this that make steam branchlines interesting!
And we then returned to Buckfastleigh. I’ll post some more photographs next time.