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- Feb 7, 2015
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The Devon and Somerset Railway tunnels
The Devon and Somerset a Railway (D&SR) was a cross country line that connected Barnstaple in Devon, to the network of the Bristol and Exeter Railway (B&ER) at Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton.
It was opened in stages between 1871 and 1873.
The line length was 43 miles and incorporated 2 viaducts at Waterrow and Castle Hill and 4 tunnels.
Running through a rural area, it never achieved great importance, although it carried through services to the seaside resort of Ilfracombe for a period.
The line closed in 1966.
Travelling in a westerly direction from Norton Fitzwarren, the first tunnel is Bathealton Tunnel (440 yards), positioned between the stations of Wiveliscombe and Venn Cross.
The eastern portal
The stonework had been lined with a concrete plaster at some point. Most of this lining has now failed due to the damp conditions.
About halfway in and again towards the western portal, are sections that have been reinforced with concrete, leaving egg shaped galvanised tin passages. These would seem to coincide with minor road crossing above.
The next tunnel, Venn Cross (246 yards) is about the mile up the line. The western portal would see you enter Venn Cross station.
The stonework in here is fairly good and it's reasonably dry underfoot.
The next tunnel on the line is Nightcote Tunnel, but at only 44 yards long, it's more of a long bridge, so I've not included it.
Castle Hill tunnel (317yards) is found between the stations of South Molton and Filleigh. It's now in the grounds of a private country estate. This wasn't all bad news, as once I'd found the portal, I was delighted to find a lack of testicle piercing pallaside gates!! 2:
Nice stonework, does get quite wet though.
Shape changes near the North portal
Really enjoyed checking these out. You can bet your life that blood, sweat and tears, literally, went into the construction.
Props to the guys that blasted and dug them out.
Hope you enjoyed this little report. Thanks for looking.
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