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British Industrial History

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Exeter and Crediton Railway

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The Exeter and Crediton Railway was a broad gauge railway that linked Exeter and Crediton, Devon, England. It was an early sufferer from the existence of two gauges. It was of course, constructed on the broad gauge, being intended to be part of Bristol and Exeter. Beyond Crediton there was to be a line to Barnstaple, which as the Taw Vale, was sanctioned as long ago as 1838.

Its powers lapsed but were revived when the Exeter - Crediton was authorised in 1845 - Exeter and Crediton Railway was authorised by Act of Parliament.

The Taw Vale, also, was to be of the broad gauge in order that, together with the Exeter and Crediton, it might in accordance with the terms of the Act be leased to and worked by the Bristol and Exeter Railway. Certain parties interested in the Taw Vale purchased 1700 shares in the Exeter and Crediton - rumour had it that the money was furnished by the London and South Western Railway and, at a general meeting on January 11th, 1847, carried resolutions that the Exeter and Crediton be leased, along with the Taw Vale, to the London and South Western.

Although built in 1847, it was not opened until 12 May 1851 due to arguments about the gauge to be used. It was initially operated by the Bristol and Exeter Railway, but eventually became a part of the London and South Western Railway, thus being one of the few broad gauge railways never to become part of the Great Western Railway.

1849 - On July 3rd one of the two broad gauge lines was replaced by standard gauge. It was altered to 4ft 8.5 inches. That was done, but Parliament refused an amengin Act to lease the line to the Taw Vale

It remains open as part of the scenic Tarka Line from Exeter to Barnstaple.

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