Project partners, funders and former railway staff gathered at Okehampton Station in December to mark the completion of the station heritage restoration project, part of the overall Dartmoor Line reopening work.
Over the last 18 months, much work has been done to restore and enhance the railway heritage of the station, while also ensuring that it meets modern requirements and standards.
Okehampton forms part of the Dartmoor Line, which reopened in November 2021. As of August 2022, around 120,000 journeys have been completed along the newly reopened line.
At the ceremony on Wednesday 21 December, former train driver and County Councillor Richard Westlake cut the ribbon to open the heritage display in the old booking office. Richard started his career as a steam locomotive fireman at Okehampton in 1964 and his father, Arthur, was the last member of British Rail staff employed at the station, retiring in 1982.
The restoration of the station was a joint effort with Network Rail transforming the fabric of the station and the station canopy while GWR led the main internal works on the building.
The Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, working closely with the Dartmoor Railway Association and Dartmoor National Park, led the work on the signage and fitting out most of the rooms in the main building.
Funding for the new signage (intended to reflect what was at the station in 1959 when it was still in its heyday) and fitting out of the rooms was obtained from GWR’s Community Rail Major Project Fund, the Railway Heritage Trust and the Community Rail Development Fund.
Richard Burningham, Manager of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, said “I am so proud of what our joint collaborative effort has achieved at Okehampton. I’m especially proud and pleased that the public are using the trains in such numbers.
“Thanks particularly to GWR for allowing all of the heritage work to take place and thanks to the funders for making it possible. All of this builds on the bedrock of what Roy Gibbs, Devon County Council and others achieved in the 1990s. I know people were worried at the very beginning of the reopening project that all the heritage would be swept away and, as can now be seen, quite the opposite has happened. In a small way, the old Southern lives again!”
Ian Mundy, Dartmoor Line Reopening Project Manager for GWR said: “It is hard to believe that it is already a year since we and our partners reopened the Dartmoor Line, ahead of time and under budget – and this event today marks the completion of this project.
“With the building now fully restored to its former glory, the success of the project is testament to the hard work of so many who campaigned for the line’s reinstatement and those who worked day and night to deliver the project £10m under budget.
“The continued demand shows just how important good rail connections are for the community, and the economies, they serve.”