Project information

South Devon Railway Heritage Centre

Creation of a living museum to display the history and development of rail transport and its impact on local communities to compliment the existing heritage railway. This will provide an important educational resource as well as being a major tourist attraction contributing to the local economy.

September 2013 - May 2016

Charity information: South Devon Railway Trust

South Devon Railway Trust logo
  • Need


    We have a large collection of railway locomotives, carriages, goods wagons, a large collection of small exhibits and a large paper archive. Many of the items are stored out of use either under cover away from public access or exposed to the elements with varying degrees of public accessibility. Storage space for rolling stock is shared with operational steam locomotives producing a dirty atmosphere and the majority of the paper archive is stored in conditions which are susceptible to damp.


    The project will provide a new purpose built carriage display building with an associated workshop facility and enable the original 1872 goods shed to be restored and sympathetically converted into a museum for wagons, small exhibits and archives. The workshop will also enable increased restoration and conservation work. The centre will incorporate facilities to enhance provision of education and information to as many people as possible and greatly improve public access and interpretation.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To conserve the collection for the benefit of future generations and provide full public access


    » Provide covered accommodation for the most vulnerable items in appropriate environmental conditions
    » Segregate locomotives from the rest of the collection to avoid dirt and dust contamination
    » Provide public access and interpretation for people of all abilities, including viewing restoration activities
    » Train volunteers and staff as stewards to describe the history and purpose of the exhibits

    Success will be the completion of the displays with 90% of the major exhibits accessible with interpretation and a programme of restoration implemented

    Aim 2

    Restoration and sympathetic conversion of the 1872 goods shed for small exhibits & archive museum


    » Remove the current carriage & wagon workshop to the new purpose built facility
    » Paper and photographic archives will be displayed in environmentally controlled conditions with controlled access for research
    » Develop displays illustrating how traffic was handled on the railways in the 19th and 20th centuries
    » Illustrate local history connected with the coming of the railway particularly the wool and cider trade

    Success will be the opening of the new museum with full accreditation and a 100% increase in visitor numbers with more than 90% rating it good or excellent

    Aim 3

    Provide a new workshop for the restoration of both timber bodied and steel framed rolling stock


    » Train volunteers and staff in the trades and skills required for the repair and maintenance of rolling stock from the last century
    » Provide apprenticeship opportunities for young people in conservation and restoration skills

    Success will be the arrest of deterioration of the heritage exhibits, the implementation of a restoration programme and creation of new jobs.

    Aim 4

    Provide an effective education resource for students of all ages


    » Provide lecture facilities for groups of various sizes
    » Provide facilities presentations and tours tailored to the appropriate parts of the national curriculum or FE courses
    » Provide interactive hands on experiences to aid learning and understanding

    Success will be the doubling of the number of schools and further education organisations booking visits

  • Impact


    The project will provide the West Country with a major interactive museum of rail transport and its links with local history. The deterioration of some unique items that are at risk will be reversed. The wider community will benefit from the engagement in volunteer activity and the local economy will benefit from the increase in visitors and jobs. Success will be measured by monitoring the increases in the numbers of items displayed, the increases in volunteers, visitors and local employment


    If we have insufficient funds by the planned start date we will carry out the build in stages over a longer period. Costs may exceed budget when the work is out to tender so we have built in contingency & have scope to use more volunteer help in an extended fit out period. Ground conditions or environmental issues could affect the build so we have commissioned professional surveys for both. To avoid further deterioration of some exhibits before completion we have temporary protection in place


    We will provide major donors with bespoke progress reports at agreed intervals which will continue post completion to show measurement of success. Smaller donors will be offered quarterly newsletters providing updates and details of current activities.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £3,441,200

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £1,670,000 Carriage Display Display building, restoration workshop, public access & interpretation
      £875,000 Museum Restoration of goods shed, fit out as museum and provision of interpretation
      £250,000 Locomotive display Refurbishment of existing building and provision of public access & interpretation
      £325,000 Site works Turntable, trackwork, public walking routes & landscaping
      £321,200 Professional fees Detailed design, structural engineering and project management
  • Background


    Buckfastleigh is a rural town in South Devon close to Ashburton on the edge of Dartmoor National Park and the immediate area has a population of 9,540. Reductions in the traditional rural industries and closures of shops and pubs mean that the local economy is heavily dependent on tourism. The town is adjacent to the A38 trunk road with bus services to Exeter & Plymouth. For 9 months of the year the South Devon Railway provides a rail service to connect with the national network at Totnes


    Local people will benefit from the creation of additional jobs in management and administration of the new centre and its volunteer supporters. The wider community will benefit from additional volunteer opportunities people of all ages. The local economy will benefit from secondary spend and additional employment in supporting facilities such as tourist accommodation. Local schools, colleges and universities will benefit from the provision of additional educational resources.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are already successfully running the South Devon Railway and have increased visitor numbers over the last 5 years. We have already improved the very small museum provision and either own or have on loan a large number of potential exhibits several of which are unique examples of their type. Our annual accounts will show that we have a sound track record of financial management and we are supported by a large number of enthusiastic and reliable volunteers.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Alan Taylor

    Alan has been Chairman of the Trust since 1991. His knowledge and enthusiasm will drive the fundraising and overall delivery

    John Brodribb

    John is Museum Curator. A retired teacher who has an excellent track record of delivering high standards in museum displays and volunteer management

    Denver Woodward

    Denver is a former director of an international civil engineering consultancy who is leading our technical team for detailed design and construction

    John Crownshaw

    John is a former Chief Executive and Financial Director within the Professional Services and Financial Sectors who will handle financial management

GWR Heritage carriages dating from 1894 & 1901

GWR Heritage carriages dating from 1894 & 1901