Work in Progress - DRA volunteer activity

This page showcases the activities of the DRA's volunteers. It relies heavily on the contributions of volunteers, especially team leaders. Carriage and Wagon reports are by David Bell unless otherwise stated. Thank you to all our contributors.

Note that there is also coverage of the restoration of brakevan LDS55625 on its dedicated page.

Our content management system's mechanism for limiting file size resulted in the unplanned loss of reports between sometime in 2015 and April 2018, including vital information on David Bell's 79th birthday cake. We now periodically remove reports into archive pages, as follows:

Archive page 5 2021
Archive page 4 2020
Archive page 3 Sept 2019 to Dec 2019
Archive page 2 Dec 2018 to Sept 2019
Archive page 1 Apr 2018 to Nov 2018, plus a jumble of earlier, departmental volunteer reports.

Okehampton Model Railway (part 1)

Photographer Ron KirbybrDate taken 11032024

Photographer: Ron Kirby
Date taken: 11/03/2024

A group of Dartmoor Railway Association volunteers has formed a model railway team and is building an OO gauge layout of Okehampton Station and the surrounding area. The layout will consist of Okehampton Station circa 1965, the military sidings, the camp bridge, Meldon Viaduct and Fatherford Viaduct. It will also have a large fictitious station and sidings at the rear for storage of trains, coaches and trucks.

Simon Arnold helped with a generous donation of an OO gauge model railway of Okehampton station. This included all the layout boards with track etc. Since the donation we have extended the layout boards to 5.5 metres x 2.5 metres and are now in the process of planning the layout to include the above scenes. This will be a long process but an enjoyable one. As soon as possible we will make the railway available to the public to watch and get involved with the construction.

If anyone has any OO gauge model railway locomotives, coaches, buildings or tracks they would like to donate please contact Ron Kirby by email on

Railway Studies and Modellers Show December 9th 2023

The Railway Studies Library at Newton Abbot Library hosted another Railway Studies and Modellers Show on December 9th. As in 2022 DRA had a display table. Geoff Horner, Dave Clegg and John Coxon ably represented the association, having a successful day with decent takings from book sales and other items, and lots of interest from visitors. Much praise was received for Okehampton Station and its carefully curated Southern Railway appearance. The numerous questions about when a service to Meldon might start were fielded with some caution.

Community Rail Day at Meldon Viaduct September 29th 2023

Thanks to Sue Baxter for the following report on the day's activity, and the accompanying photographs.

Photographer Sue BaxterbrDate taken 29092023

Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 29/09/2023

"A really good day. Weather kind, everyone ready to work. Tree seedlings cleared from the track and the platform and the shelter further spruced up.
Horticultural tips shared over the trackbed. While watching out for cyclists passing on the Granite Way there were experiences shared on electric cars!

At lunchtime we strolled across the viaduct and mused on the future. how quickly trains might be coming towards us from Cornwall.
Cakes and biscuits were going down well, and we were going to have a relaxed clear up.

Then the messages started coming. Not all trains running, problems even the day before a strike. So a bit of a scramble but everything left tidy. Our NR friends needing to make connections caught the train at Tiverton Parkway.

15 DRA and NR volunteers went home well stretched, dry and with lovely memories of Meldon heading into autumn in the sunshine."

Photographer Sue BaxterbrDate taken 29092023

Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 29/09/2023

Photographer Sue BaxterbrDate taken 29092023

Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 29/09/2023

Geoff Horner subsequently described Meldon Viaduct as one of the best kept disused platforms on the NR network!

Community Rail Day at Meldon Viaduct July 5th 2023

The combined NR and DRA workgroupbrPhotographer Network RailbrDate taken 05072023

The combined NR and DRA workgroup
Photographer: Network Rail
Date taken: 05/07/2023

A crack team of nine of DRA's regular volunteers joined forces with a slightly smaller but considerably more youthful visiting party from Network Rail. The object was to tidy Meldon Viaduct station, now NR's property of course, and which has undergone several years of neglect. The rain mostly held off, and the group made rapid progress removing vegetation growth, and starting to renovate the platform shelter. There was time before close of play to repaint the platform edge, so the station is now ready to receive trains ..

The NR team, for whom the day represented a significant departure from their usual work, enjoyed the day and left looking forward to the next session.

An interesting cooperative session. Grateful thanks are due to the DRA volunteers, rolling back the years. Also to Sue Baxter for the excellent refreshments, some of which were courtesy of the Bulleid Buffet.

The team at work on Meldon Viaduct stationbrPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 05072023

The team at work on Meldon Viaduct station
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 05/07/2023

Plenty still to do, but the worst of the overgrowth has been removed.brPhotographer Jon KelseybrDate taken 05072023

Plenty still to do, but the worst of the overgrowth has been removed.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 05/07/2023

Looking towards the viaduct, and Plymouth beyond.brPhotographer Network RailbrDate taken 05072023

Looking towards the viaduct, and Plymouth beyond.
Photographer: Network Rail
Date taken: 05/07/2023

The back of the Meldon Viaduct platform shelter in primerbrPhotographer Network RailbrDate taken 05072023

The back of the Meldon Viaduct platform shelter in primer
Photographer: Network Rail
Date taken: 05/07/2023

Barbecue June 28th 2023

Volunteer activity, if not exactly work. At the end of the usual Wednesday station maintenance session (which included work painting the interior of the signal box) Andrew Turner ran yet another excellent barbecue, ably assisted by Sam Self. There was a good turnout of the regular volunteers and their partners (along with at least one irregular) enjoying a convivial couple of hours on platform 2.

Meldon Feb 1st 2023

A brief word from Geoff Horner, who reports 'Taking of a fine day a small team of four volunteers attended Meldon yard and carried out repairs to some of the protective window boarding to our carriages that had suffered wind damage.'

Okehampton Station latest

Thanks to Tom Baxter for the following notes.

Up Side/Platform 3 - Main Building:

Buffet and all Toilets now in operation at designated hours - see services page for buffet details.

DRA managed Heritage area:

Heritage Ticket Office. Yet to be fitted out - likely by mid November.

Booking Hall. Yet to be fitted out - same as HTO timescale. Now open during buffet hours and in use as another entrance to station. Actually most direct link from bus stops.

Dartmoor National Park information centre - displays etc. Now operational - open during buffet hours.

DRA Shop - Fitted out and operational. Details on shop page. Not open Wednesdays for time being as some final jobs are being completed.

Heritage Waiting Room. Yet to be fitted out - again likely by mid November.

Down Side/Platform 2 Building:

Museum Room 1. Operational, open when DRA present, so same as shop, but also likely to be open Wednesdays when station team is present.

Museum Room 2. Currently being cleared of stores, then will require some TLC before re-opening as part of Museum. Likely to be early 2023, hopefully before Easter.

Room 2 (Staff Room). DRA refreshment service now finished so temporary counter etc. and catering area has been demolished. Room has had a quick repaint and now on way to becoming new stores, light duty workshop with emphasis on 'light', and staff area.

Room 1 (Former shop). Still some residual book stock to move out. Museum stuff from MR2 being stored. Plus other items, some of which may go to Meldon, others to Up side. May become Museum Room 3 at some point in the future.

Office and Flat area on up Side not yet fitted out. Flat is officially designated as a storage area. So maybe an area we can use for archive storage. It wasn't re-decorated as it was outside the scope of the GWR Contractors brief, so DRA has agreed to do that as a quick fix 'magnolia job', before we fill it with stuff.

Meldon July 27th and Aug 3rd 2022

LMS brakevan 731411 with a temporary replacement roof covering, following storm damage to the original.brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 03082022

LMS brakevan 731411 with a temporary replacement roof covering, following storm damage to the original.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 03/08/2022

The fine weather of Wednesday 27 July and 3 August saw a group of volunteers gather at Meldon to undertake some care and maintenance work on our rolling stock there. This included a number of general maintenance tasks on the two carriages and a replacement roof covering to the LMS goods brake van. This has been well battened down and will (we hope!) now withstand the Dartmoor weather.


Meldon, May 18th 2022

The task of moving the Carriage and Wagon tools and equipment is now completed, the final task being the transfer of items previously stored in Lab11 into the former permanent way shed. Last Wednesday, 11 May, was, in a typical Dartmoor way, rained off. However yesterday, 18 May, turned out to be bright but a bit on the breezy side. A reduced group of three of the regular volunteers started on the task of clearing away the vegetation, mostly young trees and bushes that had already started growing again around our rolling stock. This will give clear access and a safe working area for future planned maintenance.


Meldon activity April 6th, 13th and 20th

The work of transferring the DRA tools and equipment from the C&W shed in to the former PW shed continued on the 6th and 13th April C&W days and is now complete except for a few last odds and ends. For those who may be wondering why we have been doing this there are two main reasons. Firstly the quarry owners, Aggregate Industries, have offered and DRA have accepted a licence agreement covering the northern sidings of the former DRCIC yard along with the small loco shed and the former Permanent Way storage shed. This places DRA's access to the quarry site on a formal basis and provides us with a secure workshop close by our rolling stock. The second reason is that the ownership of the former DRCIC Carriage & Wagon shed is at present under discussion between AI and RMS LocoTec with the question as to whether or not the shed will be left on site at Meldon unresolved.

On April 20th work at Meldon was put on hold as all available volunteers were needed at Okehampton station where the work of refurbishing the interiors of the main Platform 3 buildings is about to start. We were asked by GWR if we would assist in clearing out the former buffet as well as making sure that any DRA assets still left on Platform 3 were secured ready to be taken to safe storage in a garage made available to us by one of our local members.


Meldon March 30th 2022

Proof that the sun still shines at MeldonbrPhotographer David BellbrDate taken 30032022

Proof that the sun still shines at Meldon
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 30/03/2022

A surprisingly large group turned out, to continue the work of transferring all DRA's tools and equipment from the Carriage and Wagon workshop to the former Permanent Way workshop next door.

Meldon March 16th 2022

Geoff Horner reports that a largish working party assembled at Meldon to board up the broken windows with plywood. This should be more weatherproof than the previous tarpaulin cover, and hopefully of little interest to vandals other than a clean target for even more pointless graffiti.

Team work LMS brake van 731411, Lab 11 aka BSK RDB 975046 and Mk2a FK S13436brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 16032022

Team work! LMS brake van 731411, Lab 11 (aka BSK RDB 975046) and Mk2a FK S13436
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 16/03/2022

The FKbrPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 16032022

The FK
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 16/03/2022

The interior of Lab 11brPhotographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 16032022

The interior of Lab 11
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 16/03/2022

Meldon visit Feb 23rd 2022

A mixed group of four C&W/SMT volunteers went to the Meldon quarry yard on Wednesday to see how our rolling stock had fared during the recent storm Eunice. The only 'casualty' was the LMS brake van (731411) where the roof covering membrane had been torn loose and was caught up over the protruding stove chimney and hanging down to the ground. We were able to cut this free and trim the membrane back around the chimney so no further damage should be caused.

We were also able to attend to one of the door drop windows to the FK carriage (S13436) which had dropped down, by raising it as far as it would go, inserting a length of timber batten as a wedge and covering over the remaining small gap at the top to prevent any further weather ingress. There was no sign of any further damage.

Photographer Geoff HornerbrDate taken 23022022

Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 23/02/2022


[That roofing material has come adrift pretty comprehensively. We haven't renewed it in our ownership, and we're just wondering if it is (was) original. If so, it's 80 years old and has survived all sorts of destructive weather, which says a lot for Eunice's ferocity. JK]