Unlike its hilltop neighbour Morchard Bishop, Lapford’s location clinging to the
side of the Yeo valley, protected it from vicissitude. The arrival first of the turnpike
around 1830, and of the railway 25 years later, did not so much spell the doom of
the village as place it firmly on the map. Population remained stable, at around
680, in the hundred years between 1871 and 1971, with some 6,400 railway tickets
being issued in 1928. The opening of the Ambrosia milk products factory that same
year provided a significant boost to the village economy, offering employment to
large numbers of local women and two-way freight opportunities for the railway: raw
milk inbound and finished product outbound.
An intriguing feature of the old station was the positioning of the “down” platform
on an isolated island reached by a stairway from the south parapet of the road bridge.
If traffic on the A377 isn’t heavy, it’s worth inspecting both the river and railway
bridges. The bridge over the Yeo features a commemorative plaque installed in 1830
by the Turnpike trustees. The bridge over the railway has a single concrete (rather
than granite) capstone, mounted above newer brickwork and indicating the point at
which weary passengers from Exeter and Waterloo reached the top of the staircase
and stepped out into the main road.
Only Lapford’s “up” platform survives today. Limited parking is available in the station forecourt, though by closing the gate that leads from the main road to the station, the owners of the station house are apparently doing their best to discourage public car parking. A footpath to the right just beyond the river bridge leads up to the village. Lapford church has one of the finest rood screens in the West Country, dating from the early 16th Century. A SPAR shop and petrol station is located 250 yards from the railway on the main road to Exeter. The village pub is open from 12 every day. There is a helpful website -www.lapford.com .
Representing users of the Barnstaple to Exeter rail line