Lympstone Commando

Located upon the branch line to Exmouth, 7¼-miles from Exeter Central, Lympstone Commando is not a station for regular passenger use. To the west of the station is the scenic vista of the Exe Estuary; to the east, its raison d’etre: the Royal Marines' Commando Training Centre, Lympstone. A training centre for marines in this part of Devon had been under consideration since at least 1939. In July of that year, it was reported that the Navy had turned down a possible site for a barracks and accommodation for 900 marines at Littleham, Exmouth, and had instead approached landowners at Exton, which had the advantage of being nearer to the River Exe than the former (ref: The Western Morning News and Daily Gazette, Devon, 22nd July 1939). In the following month, it was officially announced that the Admiralty had decided to proceed with establishing a Royal Marines camp on the Nutwell Estate, Exton (ref: The Western Morning News and Daily Gazette, Devon, 5th August 1939), this of which evolved into today’s Lympstone Commando Training Centre.

Lympstone Commando station came into use with ceremony on 3rd May 1976 (ref: The Railway Magazine, July 1976). The first train to arrive at the station was the 10:24 departure from Exeter St David’s, which wore a commemorative headboard, and the occasion followed the opening of the then new Exmouth station the previous day (ref: RCTS The Railway Observer, July 1976). Onboard the train were senior railway, civic, and military guests, and a Royal Marines band upon the platform played "Twentieth Century Express" as the service arrived at the station (ref: The Railway Magazine, July 1976).

From the outset, the station comprised a concrete platform, positioned on the eastern side of the line, upon which was a single waiting shelter of steel and glass construction (ref: Branch Line News No. 297, Branch Line Society, 12th May 1976). At the time of opening, a notice was on display at Exeter St David’s stating that only persons that had business at the Commando Training Centre were permitted to alight at Lympstone Commando — the station did, however, appear in the public timetable (ref: Branch Line News No. 302, Branch Line Society, 21st July 1976). Troop train charter services, using top-and-tailed locomotive-hauled carriages, ran to and from Lympstone Commando a couple of times a year thereafter, until approximately the year 2000.

In October 2020, the platform at Lympstone Commando was lengthened to accommodate three-vehicle diesel multiple unit formations (ref: The Railway Magazine, November 2020). This increased the platform’s length from 210-feet (64-metres) to 280-feet (85-metres).

November 2009

Engineering works are evident in this northward view, which shows Class 66 No. 66093 at one end of a top-and-tailed ballast train, entering the platform of Lympstone Commando. The barbed wire in the right background is that of the Commando Training Centre, whilst behind the trees on the left is the Exe estuary. © David Glasspool Collection