Alexander Seal


Point Stretchers
Cassette Fiddle Yard
Track Support

Track - Easiline or Fence Houses?


Designed for DCC


The village of Princetown was founded at the beginning of the 19th Century by Thomas Tyrwhitt, a member of Parliament for Okehampton, who subsequently persuaded the Government to build a prison here to house captives from the Napoleonic Wars. The prison was opened in 1809 but after 1816 it stood empty for a while and was even used as a Naphtha factory.

In 1818 Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, as he become, was serving as an MP for Plymouth and proposed that a railway to be built to link Princetown and Plymouth. The line was to extend some 24 ½ miles from Laira to Princetown via Yelverton and Dousland. No time was wasted and the Plymouth and Dartmoor Railway Company was incorporated and the line authorised in by an Act of Parliament on 2 nd July 1819. The line was constructed and opened as far as King Tor on 26 September 1823 and the remaining section to Princetown in Decmener1826. The terminus here was situated behind the present Devils Elbow Inn. The railway was horse drawn and carried passengers and large quantities of granite from the moor.

The Great Western Railway had considered the construction of a branch line from the Tavistock Railway to Princetown providing that land owners readily came forward and that the Government undertook to construct the first three miles from Princetown using convicted labour, but this scheme was abandoned when the Plymouth and Dartmoor Railway Company offered their railway from Yelverton to Princetown in return for shares in a new company which became the Princetown Railway Company.

The new line received Royal Assent on 13 August 1878 and was financed by the GWR. It was constructed to standard gauge and ran from a point just south of Roborough Tunnel, on the Tavistock Branch, a distance of 10 miles 23 chains to a new terminus on the western edge of Princetown with one intermediate station at Dousland. The single line was built almost entirely on the course of the P&D Railway and was opened on the 11 August 1883. The Great Western worked the railway and branch trains ran through to Horrabridge (over mixed gauge) until a new passenger station was constructed at the junction at Yelverton and opened on 1 st May 1885, after which branch trains terminated here.

The Princetown Railway remained independent until the 1 st January 1922 when it was absorbed by the GWR. Halts were later opened at Burrator, 14 February 1924; King Tor, 2 nd April 1928 and Ingra Tor, 2 March 1936.


The following description applies to the weekday timetable of 1948.

Locomotives for the branch were provided from Laira shed and sub-shedded at Princetown, where the water supply enabled them to be kept for up to eight weeks between boiler washouts. In normal circumstances locos always faced Princetown, thus keeping the firebox crown covered on the steep gradients.

There were two drivers and two fireman at Princetown which provided the necessary crews for each shift

Backtrack 1987 Volume 1 Part 2: Summer 1987
The Princetown branch. R.C. Riley. 69-71.
Col. illus. 44XX 4410 on branch train at Yelverton, Dousland, Burrator & Sheeps Tor (mixed train), Ingra Tor (no train).

The Princetown and Launceston branches of the Great Western Railway. J. B. Baron Collins, 473-9.
Includes notes on the Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway opened in 1823.

Signal Box Diagrams of the Great Western & Southern Railways Volume 12: GWR Lines in South Devon
GA Pryer
Paperback 54 pages (February 1998)
Publisher: G.A.Pryer ISBN: 0953246019