On the morning of 1st May 1861 two puffing locomotives hauled 17 carriages down to Exmouth to celebrate the opening of the railway line from Exeter. On 1st May 2011 we will have to settle for an eight coach train, an InterCity 125, which is due to call at Lympstone Village at 11.16am – thought to be only the third such train ever to pass through the village. The station will be decorated with bunting, thanks to the Furry Dance, and with extra flowers courtesy of Lympstone Nurseries. Part of the car park will be coned off over the weekend so that Morris dancers and spectators can get close to the platform without any safety risk.
The train will be greeted by Parish Council Chairman Rob Longhurst, accompanied by Lympstone Players – and hopefully many more people – in Victorian costume. First Great Western have said that anyone in costume may ride the train without payment and we are printing a very limited run of souvenir tickets for those who make the effort. A commemorative booklet, largely authored by Lympstone’s Richard Giles, will be available on the train and at Avocet 150 events.
Once the train has departed the Morris dancers will move down to the Swan, where a railway-themed beer festival will by then be open. Great Western Morris will be bringing with them some famous friends from the North – the scary Shropshire Bedlams and the all- girl Martha Roden’s Tuppeny Dish. The Sailing Club will host an exhibition of old photographs of the line from 11.30am until 3.30 pm.
A programme leaflet of all Avocet 150 events has been distributed door-to-door in Lympstone by ALRUG, the Rail Users Group, which is co-ordinating the anniversary celebrations up and down the line. For up to date details see www.avocet150.co.uk.