Passengers travelling to/from Okehampton can now enjoy a range of newly opened facilities which make the station worthy of a visit in itself!
The station cafe – known as the Bulleid Buffet – is now open, as well as a Dartmoor National Park information centre, Dartmoor Railway Association shop and museum. Toilets at the station are now also open.
The final elements to be opened soon include the heritage waiting room, booking office and booking hall.
The Dartmoor National Park information centre is aimed to welcome visitors and day trippers arriving by train, encouraging them to explore Okehampton and the National Park on foot, cycle or by using public transport. It includes a large topographical map of the National Park. The centre will be unstaffed.
It has been designed by Dartmoor National Park Authority staff working with Okehampton based Far Post Design Ltd. It has been funded by grants from GWR’s Community Rail Major Project Fund and the Community Rail Development Fund, a joint initiative of the Department for Transport and the Community Rail Network. The grant funding has been organised by the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership.
The main station building dates from the early 1930s and when opened, these rooms were the WH Smith bookstall. Roller shutters over the door and a window on to the platform, once a serving counter, have been restored thanks to funding from GWR and the Railway Heritage Trust.
Parquet flooring in the buffet and elsewhere in the building has also been restored thanks to the same funding.
Also opened on 24 September were the Bulleid Buffet and the station’s toilets.
As Okehampton is an unstaffed station, the toilets are being managed by the Bulleid Buffet with the help of GWR.
Looking ahead to the opening of the Information Centre, Pamela Woods, Dartmoor National Park Authority Chair said: “At Dartmoor National Park we have been delighted to see how the introduction of a new [and the only] rail link to Dartmoor has opened up the National Park to new visitors, especially those who don’t have access to a car.
“National Parks were created as ‘A Peoples Charter for those who love to enjoy the open air and get out into the countryside’. Opening this route in our 70th year of being designated a National Park, encourages people to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of Dartmoor in a more sustainable way.
“The new visitor centre in the refurbished station buildings provides visitors arriving by train with information about the special qualities of the National Park, before they go off and explore it.”
Bulleid Buffet owner Leanne Knight said: “We cannot wait to finally serve you in house and offer a sit down and takeaway food menu as well as indoor and outdoor seating!
“The Buffet will reflect the history of the station and aim to provide much needed fuel to walkers and cyclists as well as train passengers!”
Matt Barnes from Great Western Railway said “The reopening the Dartmoor Line in November 2021 has put Okehampton and Dartmoor back on the railway map and so it is great to be able to celebrate this historic relationship.”
Following its reopening after 49 years on 20 November last year, Okehampton now has hourly trains seven days a week to and from Exeter through most of the day. Passenger numbers to date are more than twice the pre-opening projections.