TARKA VALLEY RAILWAY (T.V.R.)
About Us - What we do. Who we are. WHY?
Tarka Valley Railway is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)
Registration number: 1162632.
Our address and Headquarters:
Torrington Station, Station Hill, Great Torrington, North Devon EX38 8JD
Our web and email addresses:
Our website address is:
T.V.R. IT IS RUN ENTIRELY BY VOLUNTEERS
There is a board of trustees, who are voted for by members at the AGM, and they meet regularly to oversee operations, make decision's and forward plans.
From its beginnings in 2008, Tarka Valley Railway set itself a formidable task too re-instate the old rail branch line from Torrington to Bideford.
Its original track bed was covered by the well-known and busy Tarka Trail, an outstanding cycle and walking route through beautiful Devon countryside, and to integrate the line into and with this Trail, gave concern to many. With careful and sensitive planning, the organisation has been able to challenge the doubters, change perceptions and provide a responsible, positive and realistic scheme.
With literally no previous infrastructure standing or in place, the organisation has had to start from scratch with everything. Leases, Planning, finance, infrastructure, volunteers – and all this before become a charitable organisation, as they are now.
From slow and cautious beginnings and a lot of hard work, determination and commitment, the heritage Railway has started to stretch its wings and provide a sound and useful bedrock of essential infrastructure and equipment at the base site at Torrington station.
This has enabled the sceptics to see that this ‘pie in the sky’ railway scheme is actually both relevant, plausible and possible .
With a good number of years now behind it, and the successful completion of the ‘phase 1’ build project, the railway has set it’s sights on working up and starting the ‘phase 2’ part of the multi-phase project.
The volunteers who oversee, run and operate the railway and its infrastructure are a single-minded bunch of resolute men and women from all backgrounds and ages, who are committed in their determination to do what is necessary to enable the railway to blossom, but also to have fun whilst doing so – copious tea, comedy banter and an ability to get (possibly) a little mucky, is the order of the days working agenda!
This plan and work entails stretching the distance of line towards the North (Bideford) and the first river bridge – a further distance of 300+ meters – and install a lineside platform, to link into the existing Rolle canal walk, available alongside the river. The track route would be placed on the current Tarka Trail path – with the trail being rebuilt directly alongside on top of the old railway ‘headshunt’, providing a like for like pathway, and with no interference to current users.
A Brief History of Tarka Valley Railway:
The Tarka Valley Railway Group was formed in 2008 to preserve what remained of the railway at Torrington. Passenger services had closed in late 1965 and by the 1990’s the track had been lifted and the area overgrown. However, following closure of the railway, there was a proviso that that the track bed should not be built on in the event that the railway would still be required by Network Rail. Devon County Council then became the owners of the track bed.
In 2015, the Railway Group became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).
The objectives of the railway are:
For the public benefit to preserve and maintain the Tarka Valley Railway line through the Torridge Valley.
To advance education about the history of transportation in the Torridge Valley area and railways in particular.
These objectives will be achieved by establishing and maintaining an operating heritage railway alongside the Tarka Trail based upon Torrington Station. The railway will re-instate and re-open a section of the original railway which closed in 1984.
The group gained planning approval in March 2013 for the first phase of its’ plan to extend the existing track by adding approximately 160 metres of running line and 110 metres of sidings on the original alignment of the railway in Torrington Station. This would take the line as far as the first occupation bridge over the trail after the station building.
A lease was granted to the Railway from Devon County Council in April 2018 when the re-instatement work commenced. Since then, a great deal of activity has taken place;
In 2020 the “King Point” was installed and track panels laid as far as the over bridge to the north of Torrington.
During 2021 the new 'siding line' adjacent to the Coal Dock was installed.
In November 2021, a new Visitor Centre was installed.
This will involve progressing the line towards the first river bridge towards Bideford. This will include provision of a 'Halt' positioned at the pathway leading to the current 'Rolle Canal' walkway and the addition of approximately 300 metres of track.
Several larger project plans are needing to be addressed before further track can be added, such as the river viaducts and Landcross tunnel but these can be overcome in time. The Office of Rail and Road has been consulted and solutions are possible.
It is also intended to establish a railway heritage and educational centre at Torrington with information displayed on the history and development of the railway, the Rolle Canal and the local ball clay industry.
Access for all users of the Tarka Trail will always be maintained.
Phase One of our project is now completed, which will enable us to run trains from Torrington Station (The Puffing Billy) along 270 metres of track towards Beam Weir (North towards Bideford) We also have a short siding into the restored coal-loading bay allowing us to move rolling stock.
A new visitor centre has also been opened and is sited within the station grounds.
In Autumn 2021 work began on building an access-for-all visitor centre and shop to provide enhanced facilities for the local community and visitors from further afield.
In Spring 2022 this Visitor Centre was opened.
See the opening times page for news on when this is open.
We are now at the planning stage of Phase Two of the project. This is the extension of the line to the first bridge over the River Torridge. We will build a small platform allowing passengers to further explore the Tarka Trail and the path of the former Rolle Canal. Again access to all users of the Tarka Trail will be maintained.