Three locomotives were ordered from Manning Wardle for the opening of the Barnstaple to Lynton section.

Manning Wardle 'Exe' at Lynton

At the last minute, it seems that the directors then decided that a further locomotive would be required. By then, a strike of engineers in the UK, forced them to shop further a field. Baldwin was chosen to supply. It is said that this locomotive has caused more problems than all the others put together.

the Baldwin 'Lyn' at Blackmoor

After the operating experience of the Lynton and Barnstaple section, the directors of the Minehead section ordered more powerful locomotives from North British in 1900. These two locomotives have shown themselves to be more suitable for the Barbrook/Minehead section where their extra power has come into its own. It has become standard practice for passengers to change trains at Barbrook and only specials are through running from Barnstaple to MInehead. Without any question, these two locomotives have been the most successful on this railway and are much loved by the crews. They are always turned out beautifully.

North British 4-6-4  'Axe' at Barbrook in 1929. These were the most powerful locomotives on the system until the
arrival of the Mallets

Once Southern had absorbed the line, three new locomotives were added to the roster. North British were unable to supply due to other commitments so a further Manning Wardle and two heavy Mallets built at Eastleigh were ordered. 'Lew' was in all respects the same design as the originals except a more commodious cab was provided with a flat back sheet.

 'Lew' at Pilton Yard

The first Mallet, 'River Avon' was delivered in 1925 as an 0-6-0 0-6-0 and was not at first a huge success. Seeking to get a more powerful locomotive onto the line, in order to do away with the expense of double-heading, Eastleigh Works took the design elements of the ‘classic’ Manning-Wardle tank-engines and expanded on them to produce an 0-6-0+0-6-0T Mallet articulated tank-engine, which promised a big increase of power without sacrificing the ability to negotiate sharp corners.

Early on, an embankment collapsed under the unprecedented weight of the machine, it spread the rails, rode roughly and proved extremely temperamental (track ties were very quickly installed where rail spreading had occurred).

Engineers from Eastleigh arrived at Barnstaple to learn how the new engine had fared in its first year of service. Reports were not flattering. Somewhat abashed, 666’s designers made quick amends to rectify what design flaws they could, and the second Mallet, 667 'River Brue', was found to be a much improved machine upon delivery in November 1926. The key change being the addition of leading and trailing pony trucks to steady her riding and spread axle loadings.

'River Avon', after modifications during a 1929 return to Eastleigh to closely match 'Brue’s' specifications has now been tamed into a superbly reliable machine.

Mallet 'River Avon' at Barnstaple

Mallet 'River Brue' near Snapper

The move towards diesel electric traction began in 1932 when the first prototype railcar was delivered from Eastleigh. It was powered by a Sulzer 200hp diesel electric unit and in many ways was highly successful.

The original railcar at County Gate.

The second prototype was outshopped to Short Brothers of Rochester. This company is more famous for building aircraft but they also build some buses and trams. This arrived the following year and many of the shortcomings of the original railcar were resolved. It is built in a most modernistic manner and much of the railcar is resplendent in polished metal.

 The last service of the railcar before being sold to Glenthorne

The second railcar, now sold to the Glenthorne Estate.

Eastleigh have now delivered what they describe as their 'Production railcars'. These are most modern in their design and are either three or four coach units. They are powered by the mighty 400 hp Sulzer LD engine. A few trains are already in service and are proving to be highly successful. The first to be delivered, unit 302, is mounted on articulated bogies. While these are excellent riding cars, the company has experienced a lack of operating flexibility should a problem occur. Railcars 301, 303, 304 and 305 are provided with individual bogies and their design is far more modern than unit 302. Unlike other equipment on the railway, Westinghouse pressure brake systems are employed.

Railcar 302 on test at Lancey Brook Viaduct in 1934 on a cold misty morning.

A four coach (301, 303 or 304) railcar set crosses East Lyn Viaduct

railcars pass at County Gate

Upon delivery of the new railcars, the two prototypes and 302 were sold to the Glenthorne Estate.

Following on from the success of the new railcars, two diesel electric locomotives have been on trial. From Armstrong Whitworth is the 2-6-0 0-6-2 articulated locomotive, 'River Avill'. It is said to be more powerful than the large Mallets. From Eastleigh is a bo-bo unit (River Aller), which while being less powerful, is thought to ride better on the track. Both locomotives are loaned on occasion to the Glenthorne Harbour Authority.

After conclusion of the trials, a new joint venture scheme has been initiated between Southern and the Glenthorne Harbour Authority to build a series of diesel locomotives based on a development of 'River Aller' which was found to be much kinder to the track than 'River Avill'. The first units of this scheme are under trial both on the Southern main line and on the Glenthorne branches. The Glenthorne design is a back to back unit of strikingly modern appearance and is painted in Glenthorne livery. They are numbered 20 and 21 respectively. Using the same chassis, the Southern prototype, 'River Kenn', no. 764 is more sober in appearance and is also in service.

Armstrong Whitworth 'River Avill'

'River Aller' at Glenthorne Harbour

L&B Locomotives (1898 - 1935)
Name year built   SR No Type Manufacturer
Yeo 1898   759 2-6-2T Manning Wardle
Exe 1898   760 2-6-2T Manning Wardle
Taw 1898   761 2-6-2T Manning Wardle
Lyn 1898   762 2-4-2T Baldwin
Axe 1901   763 4-6-4T North British
Lyd 1901   766 4-6-4T North British
Lew 1925   188 2-6-2T Manning Wardle
River Avon 1925   666 2-6-0 0-6-2T Eastleigh
River Brue 1926   667 2-6-0 0-6-2T Eastleigh
railcar 1932

sold 1935

200 2 car unit 200hp Eastleigh
railcar 1933

sold 1935

201 2 car unit 250hp Short Brothers
Lorna Doone 1934   301 4 car unit 400hp  Eastleigh
Atlantic Airstream 1934   302 3 car unit 400hp Eastleigh
George Newnes 1934   303 4 car unit 400hp Eastleigh
La Coupe D'Or 1935   304 4 car unit 400hp Eastleigh
Southern Belle 1935   305 3 car unit 400hp Eastleigh
River Avill 1935

on trial

597 diesel electric 660hp Armstrong Whitworth
River Aller 1935

on trial

617 diesel electric 400hp Eastleigh
River Kenn 1935

on trial

764 diesel electric 400hp Eastleigh


bring 'Lyn' back to life