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Various classes of engines were used to haul the "Atlantic Coast Express" including the ‘Merchant Navy’ and slightly smaller engines of the "West Country" class at 67ft 4in in length and 23 tons lighter than the ‘MNs’ at a total weight of 129 tons.  

Reproduced here is a Southern Railways advertisement from a local newspaper printed in 1945 announcing the arrival of new "West Country" engines.  The engine tenders held 5 tons of coal and carried 4,500 gallons of water

Torrington 15th June 1963 - 41210

Torrington 12th September 1965 - 80043 M

1928 time table

Bude 24th May 1961 - 82011

The heydays of travel on the “Atlantic Coast Express” were in the 1930’s and again in the immediate post war  years and into the early 1950’s.  Passenger travel by train peaked in 1957, from then on the motor car took over as the most popular holiday transport.  During the early 1960’s the route south of Exeter became known as the "Withered Arm" due to the fact that investment was concentrated on electrifying  the lines around the suburbs of London, there seemed little point in financial commitment to a rail system for the far west that was now facing intense competition from the motor car and road hauliers, thus the system west of Exeter was literally left to wither away


Bude 24th May 1961 - 30729 M

The last “Atlantic Coast Express” left Padstow at 11am on the 5th September 1964, this famous train that had for so long linked London with the invigorating holiday environment of North Cornwall’s Atlantic Coast ceased to exist.  Lines south of Okehampton were closed some two years later and the era of steam and rail travel in much of rural Devon and Cornwall came to an end.

Copyright  © 1999-2021 Edward Gregory  - All photographs/images/graphics/maps/logos copyright to their relevant owners.