Published: 23rd July 2016
Revival of an additional section of Lynton & Barnstaple Railway has taken two significant steps forward. North Devon Council has granted planning permission to Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust to rebuild the line from Blackmoor Gate to Wistlandpound and for conversion of the Old Station House Inn (former Blackmoor station) into a station incorporating the pub/restaurant business.
Blackmoor Gate is on the boundary between North Devon Council (NDC) and Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) planning jurisdiction. Earlier this year seven planning applications were lodged, two being submitted to NDC and five to ENPA. These form a package aimed at extending the existing one-mile section of revived Lynton & Barnstaple Railway by four and a half miles from the current railhead at Killington Lane through Blackmoor to Wistlandpound ( www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2016/lynton-and-barnstaple-railway-revival/ ).
Securing planning permission from NDC plainly represents crucial steps forward. News is now awaited concerning the remaining elements of the package covering the northern section between Blackmoor and Killington Lane and construction of locomotive and carriage sheds opposite Blackmoor station. ENPA meets on the first Tuesday of the month but no meetings are scheduled during August, the earliest a decision by ENPA can be made is therefore 6 September.
The extension plan is predicated on Blackmoor becoming the hub of the extended line. Although the locomotive, carriage and engineering facilities are included in the applications awaiting determination by ENPA the line will be served by a reconstructed station at Blackmoor. This element of the project, which includes incorporating the present Old Station House Inn (the former Blackmoor station) pub/restaurant into an enlarged railway station, thus retaining the existing hospitality business, has now secured approval.
Last year, Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust set up a new company, the L&B Blackmoor Company plc, with the intention of purchasing and operating the Old Station House Inn ( www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2015/lynton-and-barnstaple-railway-to-return-pub-to-its-former-use-a-railway-station/ ). The Trust hopes securing permission for its plans at the location will encourage people to invest in the new company, interest can be registered on the home page of the L&B website, www.lynton-rail.co.uk .
The intention is to remodel the building in keeping with the 1897-built original station structure to incorporate a restaurant, pub and tearoom, shop and ticket-office as well as the station on a slightly revised alignment. A new car park will be laid out on the other side of the A399 linked to the station complex by a pedestrian underpass. The house built by the present owner next to the pub will be converted into a museum, offices and a flat for railway staff.
“This is an investment opportunity as well as a chance to help reinstate the legendary narrow-gauge railway,” commented an L&BR spokesman. “Dividends will be paid to shareholders as soon as the business is sufficiently profitable. Of course, the success of such a venture can never be guaranteed but the inn's location next to a major crossroads at the western gateway to Exmoor gives it considerable potential, particularly when the railway returns.”
Purchasing Blackmoor station will not come cheaply, but will be another big step towards recreation of the L&B and a catalyst towards further restoration of what many people locally, not to mention enthusiasts, believe should never have been dismantled.
The mile of revived line from Woody Bay opened in 2004 and carried a record 48,000 passengers in 2015. Numbers this year are reportedly up on last year.