People are being urged to join a charity’s bid to reinstate the Ilfracombe railway.

The Combe Rail group now has registered charity status and is accepting membership subscriptions.

The group wants to set up a community and heritage railway on the track bed of the former Barnstaple-Ilfracombe railway.

The Ilfracombe branch line closed in 1970, but the charity believes getting it back would be a great boost for local tourism.

The line, which is now part of the Tarka Trail, opened in 1874 and in its heyday brought thousands of tourists to Ilfracombe.

Richard Heacock, from the charity, said people joining the group would show the authorities and funding bodies that the project enjoyed popular local support.

“Members will be entitled to attend and vote at the AGM, and funds are initially required for scoping and environmental studies and planning applications,” he said.

“North Devon is currently witnessing something of a heritage railway revival, with similar schemes already in operation at Torrington, Bideford and Instow – and the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway is set to extend its line substantially in the next few years.

“That’s got to be good for the area.”

Anyone who wishes to support the project or get involved can go to www.combe-rail.org.uk/membership