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updated 30 january 2018 - see end



Exmouth Town Council


A promotional 16mm film was commissioned by Exmouth Town Council in 1955 - see link below.


At 15 seconds in, an old bridge is shown and I was intrigued to know where this bridge was as there is no such bridge in Exmouth today. A photo of this bridge is reproduced below:


Where was this bridge? The church in the distance provides a clue. It's not Holy Trinity church on Rolle Street as the top of the tower is quite different. There's another large church in Exmouth - All Saints on the old Exeter Road. Here's what it looks like:

Look at the church tower, the three castellations, the tower windows and the bulge on the tower on the left. Clearly this is the church shown in the 1955 film. To make it clear, here's the old bridge superimposed on the Exeter Road picture:

This is where the bridge was.


I haven't been able to find any reference to this Exmouth bridge, but there's information about the old Exmouth Railway Station in Wikipedia:


Here's an extract:

The railway to Exmouth was opened on 1 May 1861. New docks designed by Eugenius Birch[citation needed] were opened in 1868 and a short branch was laid to connect them to the goods yard.[1]

A branch line with a junction immediately beyond the end of the platforms was opened on 1 June 1903. This ran around the outskirts of Exmouth on a long, curving viaduct, passing through Littleham and then on to Budleigh Salterton meeting the Sidmouth branch line at Tipton St Johns where it connected with an earlier line toSidmouth Junction railway station. This route was used for through carriages from London Waterloo stationsometimes called the Atlantic Coast Express and also a short while from Cleethorpes, which ran via theSomerset and Dorset Joint Railway and Templecombe railway station. The line was closed to all traffic on 6 March 1967 following publication of the report The Reshaping of British Railways.

The original station consisted of a single platform with a track on either side. It was rebuilt with four platform faces, opening on 20 July 1924. An engine shed was provided from the earliest days on the east side of the station, opposite the platforms. It was closed on 8 November 1963 following the introduction of DMU services on the line.

The signal box was closed on 10 March 1968 after which only one train was allowed south of Topsham and only one platform of the four-platform station was required. The station building was demolished and replaced with the present building. A single face (the old platform 2) was opened on 2 May 1986. The eastern side of the station was used for a new road which opened on 10 December 1981; the town's bus station and a swimming and sports centre are also built on the old station site.

Following the privatisation of British Rail the station was operated by Wales & West from 1997 to 2001 and Wessex Trains from 14 October 2001 until 31 March 2006; operation of the station has now transferred to First Great Western


So the line that went from Exmouth to Budleigh, through Littleham, crossed this bridge over Exeter Road. Neither the bridge, nor the line, now exists and the route of the line is now a cycle track:

The route of the old railway line at the Exmouth end crossed the bottom of Marlpool Hill opposite Phear Park and probably followed the route highlighted below after leaving Exmouth over the old bridge:

Acknowledgement: All maps and street views were taken from Google Maps.



On 30 January 2018 I had an email from Stuart Moon who added the following extra information. I'm pleased that people are still looking at the site and adding their expertise. Thanks Stuart.


Just an observation. The old viaduct in Exmouth is not at the spot you have outlined. But much closer to the Exeter Road traffic lights where the new development of flats now stands at around 144 Exeter Road.

The spot you propose has a house built in the 1800s on the left and the row of Shops on the right are of 1920-30's original both have houses of similar vintage either side. Add in that the spot would require a gradient beyond the capacity of most mainline steam locomotives I would suggest my proposal is much closer to the reality.

The line will have followed an arc to emerge at the top of  Park Road before crossing to 'land in Phear Park where it will have skirted along the rear boundaries of the houses in Ashleigh Road and Chichester Close where it would be within the cutting that emerges at Bradham Lane to pass under Salterton Road towards Littleham.

And further:

You have to remember the old railway station was aligned much closer to the houses in New Street and along the line of Marine Way (A376). The current station position is part way along the original station's platform four.

The alignment of the viaduct is revealed in the in fill developments in Park Lane, Park Road and Bridge Road where the odd wall lines of the Victorian/Edwardian houses indicate the line of the viaduct. Stand at the foot of Marlpool Hill and there is a small modern terrace of houses with Victorian/Edwardian houses either side. Showing where the viaduct stood.

The current Marlpool Hill Road follows part of the original railway alignment before the latter dives into Phear Park and from Chichester Close there is a foot path down to an old overbridge.

Enjoyed the research, filled a gap in my lunch hour.



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updated 26 may 2015, 30 january 2018



new photographs Dr Ian McLauchlin  2015


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