Yelverton Tunnel

(Photos 1, 2, 4 & 6 © Andrew King, photos 3, 5 & 7© Iain Skinner)

The broad gauge South Devon & Tavistock Railway was constructed in the late 1850s, opening to traffic on 21st June 1859. It featured six viaducts and three tunnels. The Princetown Railway then drove a meandering line southwards to connect with the SD&T at Yelverton, opening in August 1883. Almost two years later, after agreement to build it was reached with the landowner, a junction station there welcomed its first passengers.

A few yards beyond, the single track penetrated a tunnel, running through it on a straight northerly course for 641 yards. It marked the summit of the main line. The masonry south portal sheltered at the end of its approach cutting. Inside, the rough lining was also fashioned from stone, accommodating signalling wires at a high level. Regular refuges were provided.

The route was converted to standard gauge in May 1892 but the rails became redundant on 29th December 1962 when they succumbed to closure, snowfall curtailing the service and the planned commemorations.

A footpath has already been laid along parts of the former trackbed, with plans being developed to extend it further. It will not however pass through Yelverton's tunnel which remains as a silent and rather damp reminder of the railway's former role in the town.

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July 11

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