The frontage of Axminster station as it looks today, after recent restoration work,
photographed on 10th April 2005.

photograph by Peter Richards

Axminster For a while in the 1990s and early 2000s Axminster suffered from this horrible paint scheme. Fortunately someone came to his senses and returned the front of it it to how it should look, as depicted above.

photograph by Chris Osment

Axminster station opened along with the LSWR main line to Exeter Queen Street on 19th July 1860. The building was designed in mock gothic style complete with tall chimneys and multiple steeply pitched gables by LSWR architect Sir William Tite. At the time the station opened it served only a small population of 3000. The track runs roughly north-east to south-west and is level through the station, but there are gradients of 1 in 255 up in the Yeovil direction and 1 in 240 down in the Exeter direction. The entire main line to Exeter was double track by July 1870. There was a goods yard, complete with cattle pens and a goods shed on the eastern Down side of the station. When the line was originally built there was also an engine shed situated near the goods yard entrance to the Down main line. This was used to house a locomotive used for banking trains to Honiton, though the banking requirement ceased when more powerful locomotives became available and the shed was demolished circa 1903.
This admittedly in poor condition but rare and historic picture has recently been discovered at Axminster library. It shows the engine shed, which was demolished around 1903, and the goods yard under construction.

photo via George Reeve of Irwell Press

Axminster Engine Shed
Also in 1903 Axminster became a junction station with the opening of the branch, built under light railway regulations, to Lyme Regis. This branch terminated in a bay platform on the western side of the Up platform and this required the branch to cross the main line on an over-bridge at the Exeter end of the goods yard and descend into the bay platform on a 1 in 80 gradient. There was also a direct goods-only connection from the goods yard to the branch south of the over-bridge, but this was abolished in 1915.
30583 The Lyme Regis bay platform on the north side of the station, with Adams radial 4-4-2T Nº30583 on 4th January 1961.

photograph by John Bradbeer

A single unit "Bubble Car" sits in the bay platform in 1965, ready to depart for Exeter Central. The line to Lyme Regis climbed from here on a 1 in 80 gradient and swung sharply left on a 10 chain radius to cross over the main line before heading south.

photograph by Chris Knowles-Thomas

Through coaches were attached to some branch trains requiring complex shunting moves via an up siding which was not signalled for passenger trains. As a point for engines to take on water both of the main platforms had a water column at their end, and there was also a column for branch services by the buffers on the bay platform. The water for these was drawn from the River Axe and pumped by a stationary steam engine into a large water tank adjacent to the bay platform buffer-stop.

The Down platform was extended at the Yeovil end in 1932, while in the 1938 the exit from the goods yard to the Up main was relayed as a facing connection off the Down main. In 1960 the Lyme Regis branch was reduced to "One Engine in Steam" working" and all its signalling was removed. The branch closed completely on 29th November 1965 and the station closed to goods traffic on 18th April 1966. The signal box at the Exeter end of the Down platform closed on 5th March 1967 and the main line was rationalised to single track by the Western Region on 11th June 1967. Thereafter only the former Down platform was used - the footbridge was demolished and the old Up platform was disused. All this changed, however, with the reinstatement of the Up platform in December 2009.
Axminster Engine Shed This view shows the former down platform and the overgrown Lyme Regis bay.

photograph by Glen Woods

The former separate staff room, now in use as the station buffet.

photograph by Glen Woods

Axminster Engine Shed
About half a mile to the east lay Axminster Gates level crossing, where a ground-level hut housed a local ground-frame. After closure of the station signal-box this ground-frame was upgraded to block-post status for a short period, before being down-graded again on 11th June 1967. It was closed completely on 16th December 1973, when the gates were replaced by full length lifting barriers worked from a new control-point in the station building and monitored by CCTV. The hut survived for a number of years as a shelter for those occasions when a hand-signalman has to be in attendance for engineering work. It is, however, no longer extant.
Axminster Engine Shed The former Axminster Gates, where the road from Axminster to Membury crosses the railway, has been renamed Axminster Crossing and is situated north-east of Axminster Station. The view shows the former Ground frame box before its demise.

photograph by Glen Woods

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This page was last updated 19 January 2012

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