A steam engine made its way down the Tarka Trail on Saturday for the first time in more than 50 years.

John Puddy, of the SS Freshspring Society, made the trip from Bideford railway station to Torrington railway station and back again on his miniature steam-powered traction engine.

He set off at 10.30am with Bideford mayor Doug Bushby, carrying gifts of SS Freshspring beer for the waiting crowd at Torrington.

The sun shone on the two hour journey - the first time a steam-powered vehicle has made the trip since 1965.

The engine makes it back to Bideford station. Picture: Graham HobbsThe engine makes it back to Bideford station. Picture: Graham Hobbs

Once they reached the Puffing Billy, they were greeted by Torrington Mayor Di Davey, who received the gift of the Freshspring beer.

In return, Torrington gifted a vase made by Dartington Crystal, which Mr Bushby and Mr Puddy then took back to Bideford station for the volunteers there.

The event was organised by Tarka Valley Railway and Steamship Freshspring Society.

The engine makes it back to Bideford station. Picture: Graham HobbsThe engine makes it back to Bideford station. Picture: Graham Hobbs

Rod Garner, of the Tarka Valley Railway, said: “It is hoped that this event increases interest in, and determination to, recreate a heritage railway link between Bideford and Torrington.

“Both Bideford and Torrington railway groups are working to bring this to reality.

“It is essential that the rich heritage attractions of the area become a significant factor in local tourism

John Puddy receives a gift from Torrington before he returns to Bideford. Picture: Graham HobbsJohn Puddy receives a gift from Torrington before he returns to Bideford. Picture: Graham Hobbs

The occasion also marked the laying of the first new panel of track in the Tarka Valley Railway’s expansion along the Trail towards Bideford.

All three supporting organisations are seeking volunteers help to bring plans to fruition.

Its next job will be to install a pedestrian level crossing and then three further panels of track.

The Freshspring beer reaches Torrington. Picture: Graham HobbsThe Freshspring beer reaches Torrington. Picture: Graham Hobbs

The Freshspring beer reaches Torrington. Picture: Graham HobbsThe Freshspring beer reaches Torrington. Picture: Graham Hobbs

The engine reaches Torrington. Picture: Graham HobbsThe engine reaches Torrington. Picture: Graham Hobbs

John Puddy loads the engine up with Freshspring steam beer at Bideford. Picture: Graham HobbsJohn Puddy loads the engine up with Freshspring steam beer at Bideford. Picture: Graham Hobbs

John Puddy gets ready to set off as film crews watch. Picture: Graham HobbsJohn Puddy gets ready to set off as film crews watch. Picture: Graham Hobbs

Bideford and Torrington mayors, Doug Bushby and Di Davey, with the volunteers and public at Torrington Station. Picture: Graham HobbsBideford and Torrington mayors, Doug Bushby and Di Davey, with the volunteers and public at Torrington Station. Picture: Graham Hobbs

John Puddy and Bideford mayor Doug Bushby load Freshspring beer onto the engine to take to Torrington. Picture: Graham HobbsJohn Puddy and Bideford mayor Doug Bushby load Freshspring beer onto the engine to take to Torrington. Picture: Graham Hobbs