On 6th June we welcomed 70 children from West Croft school who wanted to experience the station because they were learning about evacuations during World War 2.
Our third driver qualified in this month.
The Appledore & District Amateur Radio Club (www.adarc.co.uk) were taking part in Railways on the Air and broadcasting from the far end of the coach. Bideford was able to make contact with many other heritage railways throughout the country.
Two of the locomotive crew pass their driving exams, so we now have greater flexibility of operating because our trainer no longer needs to be present.
A great day was had by all on June 12th when we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the opening of our station on 10th June 1872. Vintage vehicles were on display, there were operating model railways and loads of stalls during the day. Yet again our train proved highly popular.
Since opening, BRHC has leased the coach from DCC. Following it being vandalised over a year ago, discussions were had about the future of the vehicle and in March 2022 BRHC purchased it from DCC. This will enable BRHC to control its future restoration and usage.
The successful exhibition of the Bideford nameplates at The Burton Art Gallery and Museum finished this month. The nameplates will remain in store until a new museum in the coach has been opened.
On the 31st our Planet locomotive operated for the public for the first time in 15 years. We gave rides in the cab to almost 100 people. It was great to see happy smiling faces again!
"Bideford" locomotive nameplates exhibited at the Burton Museum & Art Gallery until February 2022.
The Planet locomotive's crew start their training.
"Bideford" locomotive nameplates purchased.
Over the Christmas period some coach windows were smashed by vandals. This will cost a four figure sum to replace. Any help you can give us would be appreciated. Due to this, and continuing discussions about the future of the catering coach, the cafe was closed throughout 2021 and 2022.
BBC presenter Jeremy Vine passed through Bideford station and commented favourably about the site on Facebook.
COVID-19 struck and the site was closed to the public until July 2021.
Summer Gala Day 25th August 2019
An excellent day was had by all. Large crowds enjoyed the site on a beautiful sunny day. After a 12 months-long complete rebuild of its diesel engine, our Planet diesel locomotive was successfully started and driven into the up platform for the first time in six years and the team had their photo taken! Visitors were able to climb into the cab and get the driver's eye view. The good times are back!
On Monday May 27th Councillor Peter Christie, the Mayor of Bideford, opened our new Interactive Interpretation Centre about the railways of north Devon, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Bideford Bridge Trust and Bideford Town Council. He also opened our new workshop which we named after Derek Clark, our first Chairman. This was financed by Torridge District Council.
Open Day images are in the Gallery.
An excellent start to our 30th anniversary year.
The first of our winter social evenings proved very popular. This was a talk about "Bideford's railway", showing our line up to closure and then running through subsequent developments. We were also pleased to enrol some new members.
A successful day at the end of the month when we were able to show local people what we had achieved over the last year. We also raised £120 fo McMillan Cancer Research.
During the early summer period there has been a positive improvement at our Bideford site. The most obvious change has been that Brends, who own the station building, have repainted it in SR colours under our guidance. See here for an image. A new SR running-in-board has been erected next to the signalbox on the up platform. See here for an image. With the signalbox, PMV and coach also being in green livery the site is rapidly becoming an asset of which the town can be proud.
At the end of the month all of the foliage was removed from the trackbed beyond the crossing gates by professional contractors. We look forward to the day when our diesel shunter, once repaired, will be able to operate on this length of track.
Developments on site are moving ahead fast. A replica Booking Office has been built in the PMV as the entrance to the forthcoming interactive centre. A temporary exhibition has replaced the museum and the model of Bideford station has been completely refurbished. The coach and PMV have been repainted and the diesel locomotive repairs are underway. Tea on the Train has opened its doors for business.
The undercoating of the exterior of the PMV has been completed (to be topcoated in the Spring), preparatory to the start of work on the Interactive Interpretation Centre. The interior has been touched up where necessary. The model of Bideford station will remain in the PMV and is currently being improved.
During this month our Managing Director Felton Vowler passed away. Felton was a very hands-on Director until recently and will be remembered for successfully fronting the organisation over the last decade. Our thoughts are with his family.
We have received a grant from Bideford Bridge Trust that will enable us to complete the repairs to our locomotive. We hope it will be running in 2018.
The Bideford site has been cleared of excess foliage, storage facilities improved and the signalbox has been repainted, ready for the 2018 season.
Bideford Railway Heritage Centre wins National Lottery support
The Bideford Railway Heritage Centre has received £35,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, “All Aboard, Bideford Rail and the Tarka Trail” in East-The-Water, Bideford. Made possible by National Lottery players and led by volunteers from the local community, the project focuses on improving museum facilities at the Heritage Centre/ Bideford Station.
The project will enable railway museum facilities to be refreshed and improved, for the benefit of engagement with local community stakeholders – such as schools - and visitors to the Tarka Trail alike. The project will also seek to create greater volunteer opportunities for Bideford, increase the attractiveness of the site to visitors and complement the Tarka Trail experience for the benefit of local tourism and businesses. It will also tell the story of North Devon’s once rich railway history and the role that has played in shaping Bideford today.
Commenting on the award, Andrew Mills, Chairman of BRHC said “We are absolutely delighted to have received the support of the National Lottery and look forward to improving the site for the benefit of North Devon, in many ways.”
Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re delighted to support this project which will improve access to North Devon’s railway and natural heritage and create some fantastic opportunities for volunteers, schools and local tourism.”
The upcoming Interpretative Centre in the PMV is a major project with many strands, but in conjunction with the signal box and the Tarka Trail display in the Mk1 carriage, it means that BRHC will have a greater profile as a visitor destination within the North Devon area. In turn it will widen the appeal of BRHC and provide many more opportunities for engagement with both the local community and the many visitors from elsewhere to Bideford. The use of interactive displays means we will be able to increase the amount of historical data available to the visitor. Work will start on building the displays in the PMV early in the new year and we hope it will be open by Easter 2018.
Unfortunately stalwart Director Felton Vowler has had to step down due to ill-health. We are all very grateful for his major contribution over the years and we wish him well.
Co-Directors Andy Mills and Naomi Johnson are now moving forward with developments, assisted by a number of other personnel. Further details of responsibilities are on the Contacts page.
Visitor Centre opened in the coach. This now provides a first class visitor experience for the area including four main back-lit display panels explaining what to see along the Tarka Trail, plus a full width map of a journey from Meeth to Braunton. Tea on the Train remains in the coach.
Updated electricity supply installed at Bideford.