The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway (L&B) opened as an independent railway in May 1898. It was a single track narrow gauge railway just over 19 miles (30 km) long running through the rugged and picturesque area bordering Exmoor in North Devon, England. Although opened after the 1896 Light Railways Act came into force, it was authorised and constructed prior to that act. Therefore, as with all other railways, it was authorised under its own Act of Parliament and built to higher (and more costly) standards than similar railways of the time. In the UK it was notable as being the only narrow gauge line to use main-line standard signalling.
For a short period the line earned a modest return for shareholders, but for most of its life the L&B made a loss. In 1923 the L&B was taken over by the Southern Railway, and eventually closed in September 1935.
The L&B used only coal-fired steam motive power. In 1896, the Hunslet Engine Company submitted two designs (a 2-4-2T and a 4-4-0T), but eventually an order was placed for three 2-6-2Ts from Manning Wardle & Co of Leeds. The locos were named after local rivers: Yeo, Exe, and Taw. As the railway company soon realised that three locos would not be sufficient, the three Manning Wardles were supplemented by 2-4-2T, Lyn, built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, USA. Baldwin was selected as they could deliver the loco — based largely on standard components — more quickly than domestic suppliers, who had a backlog of orders, caused by a national engineering dispute over the 8 hour working day which had resulted in a lock-out by employers between July 1897 and January 1898. One of the most bitter and protracted labour disputes of the 1890's. Consequently a specification was issued to Baldwins and an acceptable tender figure of £1,375.00 for the construction was issued and accepted in April 1898. Design work began on 5th May 1898 and the final drawing is dated 25th May 1898 — a most impressive output indeed. The locomotive was built and first steamed at the BLW works in July 1898.
In 1923 the L&B was absorbed into the Southern Railway, and began an upgrade programme. All stock was repainted in Southern Maunsell livery, and track and buildings were improved. A fifth locomotive, LEW was purchased in 1925, built to an improved design based on the original Manning Wardles.
The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway ran its last train on the 29th September, 1935 and in November, LYN, along with YEO, EXE, and TAW were sadly reduced to scrap at Pilton yard. LEW survived the blowtorches, and was used to dismantle the track, before being shipped to South America and an uncertain fate. LYN was bought by J. Cashmore Ltd for £50 and broken-up almost immediately after the auction on site; only her nameplates, headlamp and water gauge-glass protector surviving the scrapman.