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.
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.