South Devon Railway engine houses

South Devon Railway Engine Houses

South Devon Railway engine houses

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The South Devon Railway engine houses were built in Devon, England, to power the atmospheric trains on the South Devon Railway between Exeter St Davids and Plymouth Millbay railway stations. They contained boilers that provided the power to pumps that created the vacuum to move the trains. Three of them still stand largely intact alongside the line.



The South Devon Railway was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel who proposed to move the trains by atmospheric power. Brunel and other engineers travelled to Dalkey in Ireland in 1843 to view such a system undergoing tests on the Dublin and Kingstown Railway. There, Brunel's engineer of locomotives for the GWR, Daniel Gooch, calculated that conventional locomotives could work the proposed line at lower cost, but Brunel's concerns about the heavy grades led him to try the system regardless. Double track lines were favoured at that time even for lightly worked lines as this reduced the chances of a collision between trains, but the atmospheric system precludes the possibility of two trains travelling in opposite directions on the same section of track.

The pipes were...
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