The station, which is the busiest in Devon, opened on May 1st 1844 as the terminus of the Bristol and Exeter Railway. The guests from London for the gala opening arrived at 12.30 on schedule after a five hour journey from Paddington at an average speed of 39 miles an hour including stops. The station was located at some distance from the city centre, because the council had refused permission for the line to cross its boundary. However, the council must have changed its mind about the benefits of train travel since it gave permission for the London and South Western Railway to run to Exeter Queen Street (now Exeter Central) in 1860, and a connection between it and St Davids was opened in 1862. Since the line had been extended westwards to Plymouth between 1846 and 1849, and the Exeter and Crediton Railway, which had opened in 1851, had been extended to Barnstaple in 1854 and on to Bideford in 1855, a major extension of St Davids was needed to cope with the increased traffic. The work, which was completed in 1864, increased the number of platforms from one to four. It had a superb front, which was retained when the station was completely rebuilt between 1911 and 1912 in its present form.
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