The building of railways in South Devon was first under discussion in the late 1830's and early 1840's. A number of routes were examined. One route that was examined ran from Exeter, along the coast, through Torquay and the Dart estuary, crossing the South Hams to Plymouth. The route that was chosen and the route that runs today, goes through Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Totnes, South Brent and ending at Plymouth. Torquay is now on a branch line from Newton Abbot, which was engineered by Brunel as part of the then South Devon Railway......
The first section of the Torquay line was opened in 1848, which ran to Torre station. It was another 11 years before the railway was extended from Torre to Paignton and a further five years before the line was completed to Kingswear, passing through Churston. The line finally opened to traffic on 16th August 1864, under the South Devon Railway management. At this time there was a branch line to Brixham from Churston station. In 1876 the South Devon Railway was absorbed into the Great Western Railway.
The Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway that is in operation today, is running due to the efforts of the Dart Valley Railway PLC over the past 30 years. It is a commercial company with a board of directors, enthusiast shareholders and the dedicated staff who run and maintain this heritage railway. The company was founded in the 1960's to acquire and run the Totnes to Buckfastleigh branch railway, which had been closed for some years.
It opened under the Dart Valley Railway control in 1969. Within a few years the Paignton to Kingswear line was threatened with closure by British Railways. It was then that the Dart Valley Railway acquired this section of line as well and started train services in 1973. The Paignton to Kingswear line is fully up to main line standards and is able to carry the largest and heaviest locomotives in Britain.
Since the 1980's tourist trends have changed dramatically. Due to this the Dart Valley Railway felt that the Totnes to Buckfastleigh line would be better operated independently by an enthusiast group. Today this line runs as the South Devon Railway, leaving Dart Valley Railway to concentrate on the Paignton to Kingswear line.
In 1999 the Dart Valley Railway had the opportunity to acquire 'The Red Cruisers'; we already owned Dart Pleasure Craft so it was a natural progression to buy 'The Red Cruisers'. The boats were then known as River Link.
In 2010 the two companies merged to form the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company.