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Steam Against The Gradient:
South Devon Banks (Part One)
Running time: 77 mins approx


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This DVD is part of the finest collection of steam locomotives working over the gradients between Newton Abbot and Plymouth that has ever been taken. It is 100% action and is full of powerful soundtracks and stunning views of the engines hard at work. (Most material has been taken from our 'Mainline' series but some previously unseen footage is included and some sequences run for longer.)

In this all action DVD, we feature steam’s return to the South Devon Banks. After a break of 21 years, 1985 saw the first departure of a steam hauled train from Plymouth. This was part of the GW 150 celebrations and featured 7819 Hinton Manor and 4930 Hagley Hall double heading a train to Bristol. With video taken from the train, we see all the action as the ex GW pair slog over the tortuous gradients between Plymouth and Dainton. We also continue the journey on to Exeter and see the wonderful semaphore signals that still remained at the time at Newton Abbot (they were all removed the following year). After journeying along the sea wall, witnessed by thousands of people, we arrive at Exeter St Davids station where the large Exeter West Signal Box was still in situ.

It was another 10 years before steam was again to be seen on the line, at the end of April 1995, when Standard Class 4 4-6-0 75014 double headed a train with 70000 Britannia. The action was dramatic as the pair tolled up the 1 in 42 gradient of Hemerdon Bank.

Later that year, 7802 Bradley Manor double headed with 70000 Britannia. The climb to Dainton tunnel was one of the most stunning spectacles we have ever recorded. Locations are Stoneycombe and Dainton. The return working was undertaken with the help of Class 47 47519 following the failure of the Manor. With Britannia piloting the diesel, the pair blitzed Hemerdon and Dainton banks in dramatic style. Both climbs are featured.

1996 saw the unique pairing of 7802 Bradley Manor and 5029 Nunney Castle. The journey to and from Plymouth took place over two weeks. The locations featured are Stoneycombe, Dainton, Hemerdon, Hemerdon summit and Cornwood viaduct.

In March 1996, a truly remarkable event took place when 7802 Bradley Manor worked a train from Totnes back to Worcester. With a load of nine carriages plus a dead Class 47 on the rear of the train, the Manor managed to lift the load over Dainton summit. The action at the mouth of the tunnel as 7802 slogged up the last quarter mile, at walking pace, is very dramatic.

Another unique combination, never to be repeated, was the pairing of Collet Mogul 7325 and 6024 King Edward I. On the outward run on 9th November 1996, it was getting dark and raining by the time the train appeared out of Stoneycombe Woods and slogged the last few hundred yards to Dainton tunnel.

On the return working three weeks later, we join the footplate crew on board the King for a once in a lifetime journey. With 6024 having steaming problems by the start of Hemerdon bank, we see the fireman and traction inspector struggling with the fire and steam pressure which never got much above 140lb psi all the way to Dainton summit. It was later said that, without the help of 7325, the train would not have made it. There are also lineside shots on Hemerdon bank and from the hillside above Combe Fishacre.

King Edward I 5th April 1997.
7325 Collet Mogul & 2968 Stanier Mogul double heading 8th November 1997.
6024 King Edward I 9th May 30th & May 1998.

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