Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway

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The Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway opened in 1869 as a broad gauge (7 ft 0.25 in) railway and links the port of Fowey in Cornwall with the main line at Lostwithiel. Its main traffic has always been china clay.

An independent company began negotiations with the Cornwall Railway in 1861 with an aim to build a branch line from that railway at Lostwithiel to deep water at Fowey. The route would run alongside the River Fowey and so would have gentle gradients and few engineering problems apart from some bridges across small tributary rivers, and new quays at Carne Point, just outside Fowey.

An Act of Parliament was obtained on 30 June 1862 and the line was opened on 1 June 1869. There were close links with the Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway; some directors and officers served both companies, and offices were in a shared building at Par. The opening of a rival route from Par by the Cornwall Minerals Railway on 1 June 1874 led to a price war. The Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway suspended traffic from 1 January 1880. The line was leased to the Cornwall Railway for use as storage sidings but traffic never resumed, despite several attempts to attract new business.

By way of an Act of Parliament on 27 June 1892 the company was dissolved and the line transferred to the Cornwall Minerals Railway. The line was reconstructed to standard gauge, the jetties at Carne Point rebuilt, and a short connection made to link the two railways, finally bringing the line from Lostwithiel to a station at Fowey. The line reopened on 16 September 1895. It now carried both goods and passenger traffic, and a small halt was opened at Golant.

The passenger service from Lostwithiel to Fowey was withdrawn on 4 January 1965, and the line now carries only goods traffic to Carne Point. The line from Par to Fowey closed on 1 July 1968, and the Lostwithiel and Fowey now carries the only rail traffic to Fowey.


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