Historic journey marks Plymouth rail line's reopening
RAIL passengers rolled back the clock when they stepped aboard a train to mark the reopening of a branch line.
Aubrey Hawke and Bernard Mills were among those on the last train to use the old branch line between Plymouth, Tavistock and Launceston 50 years ago.
And on Sunday the pair were on the first train to run from Marsh Mills to Plym Bridge since then.
Fifty years ago Mr Hawke was the last passenger to board the line, which was severed by Dr Beeching's axe and closed earlier than planned because of winter snow.
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Bernard Mills, a photographer and founder-member of the Plym Valley Railway, was also on the last train 50 years ago and on the first train.
Plym Valley Railway enthusiasts have been restoring part of the line, and on Sunday, to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure, they opened a half-mile extension, allowing trains back to Plym Bridge platform.
It is the first time in the preservation era that the railway has operated over its full 1.5-mile length with a station at each end.
Passengers will now be able to join or leave the railway from each station.
The reopening special left Marsh Mills station at noon, carrying railway members and invited guests. From 2pm the public were able to take the journey.
Among the passengers on Sunday were Gary Streeter, the MP for South West Devon, the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Mike Wright, Pauline Kadoche, the Plympton Stannator, and Plympton St Mary councillor Patrick Nicholls.
Bernard Mills, the railway's founder-member, unveiled the new station name board to officially open the station.
Mrs Kadoche said later: "It was a marvellous moment to be part of it, and worth all the effort.
"It's part of our heritage and it's something that should be remembered and celebrated."
Paul Fox, a Plym Valley Railway director, said about 500 passengers made the journey on Sunday.
"All the children loved it too." He said the next phase of work would see reconstruction of the Marsh Mills station and development of an interactive museum.
Last year the 44-year-old Royal Oak, a class 50 diesel-electric locomotive, was restored and brought back into use on the line.
It took nearly 20 months and 2,500 hours of work to restore the locomotive, owned by Dave Cunningham.
The railway will open to visitors on certain Sundays from 11am, starting from Easter Sunday.