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Updated:  25 January 2012 

Devonport Albert Road Station is located between Plymouth and Keyham Stations on the Great Western Railway main line.  It is adjacent to Exmouth Road, Devonport.

The Station was built by the Cornwall Railway and opened on Wednesday May 4th 1859.  It was at that time the only station between Plymouth and Saltash.

Devonport Station was provided with a goods shed from the very beginning.  This was located on the Down side between the Station and Albert Road Tunnel.

The line through Devonport Station as far as Keyham Viaduct East Signal Box was doubled and opened in October 1899.  The original signal box was replaced with a new one (see below).

In 1890 the Station Master at Devonport (GWR) Station was Mr James Parsons.  He lived at number 4 Keppel Terrace, Keppel Street, Morice Town.  [1]

Extract of a map showing the location of railway stations in Devonport
The Great Western Railway's Devonport Station
is shown at the top of the map, in relation to the Southern railway's Albert Road Halt to its left and their main Devonport Station at the bottom.

At the start of the last century some major redevelopment work was undertaken at Devonport Station.  It started in 1902 with the construction of a new goods depot at Valletort Road.  This was erected by Mr A N Coles of Plymouth.  This replaced the old shed at the Penzance end of the Station, which was not only cramped but inconvenient for the rail traffic to access.

The new shed was some distance from the Station and to reach it two lines had to be laid from the Plymouth end of Devonport Station and carried through a cutting in Valletort Road and under an iron bridge.  The site of the shed was some 60 feet deep and had to be filled with some 50,000 cubic yards of rubble to make it level.   More convenient approach roads were made to the depot and the whole project was viewed as a vast improvement that served the needs of the Mercantile Association of the Town.  The cost of the work was about 20,000, exclusive of permanent way.

So pleased with the work were the Great Western Railway, that in 1904 they placed the contract for the improvement of the Station with Mr Coles, also.  At the time, the only way to access the Up platform for London was by walking along the Down platform and across the footbridge.  For the benefit of the people of Morice Town and Keyham, a path some 700 feet long was cut into the embankment from Albert Road to the Up side.  It was continued to Havelock Terrace at the Stoke end of the Station for the benefit of the residents of that area.

The Great Western Railway's Devonport Albert Road Station, Plymouht, looking from the Keyham end in March 1956. Earlier in 1904 the footbridge at the Penzance end was removed and  replaced with a temporary one.  That one was replaced by a new footbridge at the Plymouth end and was taken down on Saturday December 31st 1904.   The new bridge was constructed of steel, except for the stairs and roof.   Additional flights of stairs were in the process of being installed to link the station paths with the platforms.

Both platforms were extended by 150 feet and that for Down trains widened by 10 feet.  This increased the platform accommodation from 16,000 to 20,000 square feet.  The widening of the Down platform meant that the old offices had to be demolished and new ones erected further back.  This enabled the larger waiting-rooms, booking office, parcels office and cloakrooms to be built.

The Great Western Railway's Devonport Albert Road Station, Plymouth, looking from the Keyham end in March 1956.
  R M Casserley.

However, the Up side was not treated the same way - the original buildings were retained.  The old lavatory was transformed into the booking office while the old store at the other end of the block became the lavatory.  The old wooden verandas, which only extended the length of the buildings on each platform, and were very narrow, were replaced with much longer and broader ones, supported by steel cantilevers, and covered with glass and iron.

New sidings were put in to lead to the horse and carriage landings, near the old goods shed.  Milk traffic was also dealt with here.   These sidings were known as the Up Sidings even though they were located on the Down side because they were accessible only from the Up track.

Altogether the work at Devonport Station cost around 10,000 and the painting and finishing was expected to be completed in January 1905.   The contractor's foreman of works for the project was Mr J Bonney.

Local milk traffic had ceased to be handled by the railway by the end of the Second World War and the Up Sidings were removed in 1957.

Devonport Station was renamed Devonport Albert Road Station after nationalisation to avoid confusion with the Southern one at King's Road.  It first appeared in the timetables as such with the commencement of the winter service in September 1952.

Devonport Station is still open but bears no resemblance to the description given above.  The buildings were demolished many years ago.

The goods depot at Valletort Road was closed from Monday April 15th 1957 and the site was then used by the Civil Engineering Department.  The track into the depot, and what remained of the track inside it, were removed in September 1970.


There were apparently Up and Down signals at Devonport Station from the time of its opening but the first signal box was not provided until Friday November 9th 1877.  It had 20 levers.  This was extended to 29 levers at the end of 1892 when a new goods shed was erected at the eastern end of the Down platform.

When the line was doubled in October 1899, a completely new signal box was opened.  It still had 29 levers but 9 of them were unused.

Although the signal box was renamed Devonport Albert Road to coincide with the revised station name, the nameplate remained as Devonport Station Signal Box until it was closed on Saturday November 26th 1960 upon the opening of the Plymouth Multiple Aspect Signalling Scheme.


[1]  White, William, "Plymouth 1890: History and Directory", Hindsight Publications, King's Lynn, Norfolk, 1989.

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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