REALLY SideTracked – Mortehoe
Flanders and Swann Slow Train event No 5
A geocaching meet-up between 12.30pm and 3pm on Saturday, 23rd March, in the Fortescue Arms near the site of the old station at Mortehoe in Devon.
This is the next in a series of SideTracked events based on the song Slow Train by Flanders and Swann. Written in 1963, the song laments the closure of many stations and railway lines under the Beeching cuts of that era. After a spoken introduction, the song starts with both Swann and Michael Flanders singing "No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe, on the Slow Train..."
Mortehoe & Woolacombe station looking north in 1943.
(Copyright photo from John Alsop collection.)
Mortehoe & Woolacombe was opened by the London & South Western Railway in 1874 on the line from Barnstaple to Ilfracombe, and served the villages of Mortehoe and Woolacombe. It was closed to passengers in October 1970 when the branch closed.
After closure the station remained derelict for many years until the mid 1980's when it was partially restored and opened as the 'Once upon a time' children's theme park. The station building was considerably altered and extended including a new narrow gauge engine shed for the park. Four redundant British Railways Mark 1 coaches were craned into position between the platforms, and a number of ex-BR 4-wheel vans (mostly 12-ton 'Vanwide' type) were located around the grounds. The former rolling stock was used to contain a number of displays and attractions. Although opened independently, the attraction was latterly owned by the operators of nearby Watermouth Castle. In 2004, the attraction was put up for sale at an asking price of £800,000 and it closed at the end of the 2005 season.
From Disused Stations
The event will allow like-minded cachers to meet up to chat, discover and swap trackables, and view the site of the old station. The pub swill be open, and hopefully there will be an area reserved for us. The pub does food - if you wish to eat please state this in your "will attend" log along with how many, so that I can give them an idea of numbers.
Related web pages:
(Background images - Donald Swann and Michael Flanders in concert, 1966; disused track near Dunstable Town station in 2006, copyright Nigel Cox, CC-by-SA)