North Devon Coast

National Landscape

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Ilfracombe Station

Ilfracombe Station was the terminus of the Barnstaple to Ilfracombe Railway. In it’s heyday, it boasted two platforms, numerous sidings, a goods yard, engine shed and large turntable. All this activity was controlled by a 50 lever signal box located on the approach to the station complex. At it’s height, in the middle of the last Century, the station received over 24 trains and 10,000 people a day, destined for the popular seaside resort of Ilfracombe.

The 1:36 gradient up the “Slade bank” began as soon as trains left the station, making it the hardest standing start for locomotives in the country. Frequently, trains required additional motive power to ‘pilot’ (locomotives pulling at the front) or ‘bank’ (locomotives pushing from the rear) to help them up this steep incline that stretched for three miles to Mortehoe Station.The station closed in 1970 and in 1975 the new factory complex of Pall Ilfracombe was built on the site.You can find out more about the Barnstaple to Ilfracombe Railway by visiting Ilfracombe Museum .

The former railway line and parts of the station site now form part of the Cairn Local Nature Reserve and National Cycle Route to Barnstaple.   The Tarka Trail is a fantastic way to explore the areas scenery and wildlife, and to travel back in time along the old railway.