Instow steam locomotive returns home thanks to anonymous donor

The nameplate for the 'Instow' steam locomotive has returned to its spiritual home. Picture: Rob Dar

The nameplate for the 'Instow' steam locomotive has returned to its spiritual home. Picture: Rob Dark - Credit: Archant

Volunteers at a North Devon railway centre volunteers have been overwhelmed by a generous donation.

Bideford Railway Heritage Centre has received a nameplate once carried by West Country Class steam locomotive Instow.

The Heritage Centre runs its railway visitor displays at Bideford Railway Station and also the Signal Box at Instow.

Update: All is not as it seems, please see below!

Rob Dark, the Instow signal box co-ordinator, said “The locomotive Instow was the last in a class of 111 West Country and Battle of Britain class locomotives built between 1945 and 1951.


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“It went into service on the 1 April 1951. Unlike the early members of the class such as Bideford, which had naming ceremonies in the town that they were named after, Instow received its name quietly after being built at the Southern Railways Brighton Works.

“After a relatively short service life it was withdrawn exactly 13 years later on April 1, 1964.”

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Volunteers at Bideford Railway Heritage Centre CIC are delighted and would like to thank the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous but is looking forward to having it on display for visitors to enjoy.

Instow Signal Box has guarded the road crossing at Instow since 1872 and was built by the London and South Western Railway. The passenger service through Instow ceased in October 1965.

Following the establishment of the Tarka Trail by Devon County Council, what is now BRHC worked with DCC to restore the Bideford Station site and create the Railway Heritage Centre.

More details can be found at www.bidefordrailway.co.uk .

UPDATE: The eagle-eyed may have spotted this was in fact an April Fool, kindly submitted to us by Rob Dark. The history is all true and you can indeed visit the Instow Signal Box and Bideford Railway Station to view the heritage displays, but sadly the Instow nameplate will not be among them as there were only 110 West Country and Battle of Britain class locos, not 111.

Rob said: “I recently made a replica Instow locomotive nameplate which is fictitious as there never was a locomotive named Instow although all the local towns on the Southern railway network were including Bideford, Barnstaple, Ilfracombe, Bude and villages Appledore, Westward Ho!, Clovelly and Hartland but not Instow.”

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