the independent years to 1922

The line, although managed by the L&B, was operated as a separate entity, with ‘through’ trains from Minehead terminating at Barbrook and passengers then forced to climb to a connecting train on the Lynton line at a higher level, with the connecting line to Woody Bay only being used by goods workings and the occasional excursion. This situation was somewhat pointless, as provision had been made for a Lynton station on the Minehead Line; indeed a substantial deviation had been made accordingly. In another case of making things difficult however, George Newnes about-faced and the new Lynton station never materialised.

Just east of the Glenlyn viaduct however, additional sidings and sheds were built for stock. This was called Glenlyn shed but is known as 'Little Pilton' by the railwaymen. Glenlyn has gained importance since it has been developed as a railcar service facility, earning it nickname of ‘the tram depot'.

staff at Glenlyn

Due to the onerous construction costs, the initial grandiose plans for rolling stock were pruned to a bare minimum. North British was commissioned to design a new class of locomotive, but only two were built, ‘Axe’ and 'Lyd'. Additional rolling stock for the main line were just as sparse and included 12 open bogie wagons, 4 bogie vans and nine new coaches quite similar to the existing L&B stock albeit somewhat longer, these being the only vehicles on the network to carry the new ‘Minehead & Barnstaple’ device.

The lack of sufficient rolling stock placed a strain on the entire system. As a direct consequence, any shortage of motive power could result in trains terminating at Lynton and returning directly to Barnstaple with through passengers stranded at Barbrook, followed by angry exchanges between the Halliday and Newnes clans.

During these times, locomotives were sequestered from the Harbour Authority and run on the Minehead section. On several occasions, staff from County Gate would run a loco down to Pilton Yard, 'after midnight' to 'recover' rolling stock needed to operate the Minehead section. These unofficial ‘night trains’ soon became the stuff of legend in the area, running as they did without lights or whistle, leading the more gullible to believe that ghost trains regularly prowled the metals!

Despite continuing 'spats' between the Hallidays and Sir George, the extended railway did perform quite well financially. The new railway served many communities and goods traffic was satisfactory, with many local farms and firms using the line to deliver their produce to market or further a field via the GWR at Minehead or the SR at Barnstaple.

Passenger journey times were generally much improved as a result, as now, separate goods trains were often operated, saving the shunting times experienced when running mixed trains. Local passenger traffic likewise improved. The hamlets of Malmsmead and County Gate grew in size as the Hallidays constructed residences for harbour and railway workers, and in 1910 a new hotel was built by the estate near the station, the Glenthorne Hotel. This has become a very popular venue for weddings and holiday makers who can afford it and has brought in further railway traffic.

a double headed train near Dunster during the independent years - photo Tate Stripnor

County Gate has gained importance, due to the extensive traffic generated by the harbour, it soon it became clear that further sidings would be required. The Glenthorne Estate, who own all the adjacent land to the station, were reluctant to allow further expansion of railway activities so close to their hotel. Eventually, a new site was agreed upon, a mile away. The formation here is level owing to being the originally intended site for Malmsmead station, making it ideal for development. Six sidings have been built and a new goods facility provided to service the growing road transport of the area, as well as a small shelter for passengers from Malmsmead who do not wish to walk the short distance to County Gate. This new yard and halt is called 'Glenthorne Sidings'. The original goods shed at County Gate is retained for local traffic only.


bring 'Lyn' back to life