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British Industrial History

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Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway

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January 1955.

The Newquay and Cornwall junction Railway was a broad gauge (7 ft 0.25 in) railway intended to link the Cornwall Railway with the horse-worked Newquay Railway. It opened a short section to Nanpean in 1869, the remainder being built by the Cornwall Minerals Railway who took over the company in 1874. Its main traffic has always been china clay.

Late in 1861 the promoters of the Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway proposed to also construct a line from the Cornwall Railway west of St Austell to St Dennis, where it would connect with the horse-drawn Newquay Railway. While the plans were being laid for this new line, which would provide a route for the china clay produced in the district to reach the harbours on the coast, the Cornwall Railway opened a station at Burngullow to tap into this traffic.

An Act of Parliament for the Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway was obtained on 14 July 1864 but construction proved more difficult than expected due to the hardness of the ground, and funds were not forthcoming to enable the whole line to be built. The 3.5 miles from Burngullow to Nanpean was opened to goods traffic on 1 July 1869, it being built to the same broad gauge as the Cornwall Railway. The offices for the company were at Par and shared with the Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway.

In 1872 it was agreed to lease the line to the newly formed Cornwall Minerals Railway which would complete the connection to the Newquay Railway. It would also convert both this and the Par Tramway for steam engines, and connect these together and with quays at Fowey. The lease took effect from 1 June 1874 but the company never received everything that it had been promised and took legal action against the Cornwall Minerals Railway. The Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway directors stopped meeting in 1885.

The Great Western Railway took over the operation of the Cornwall Minerals Railway from 1 October 1877 and was amalgamated with this company on 1 July 1896. In the meantime, the line had been converted to standard gauge along with all the other lines west of Exeter over the weekend of 21 May 1892, finally enabling through trains from Burngullow to St Dennis railway station.

The railway has only ever carried goods traffic. The line no longer extends to St Dennis, but the original line still carries china clay trains on their way to Fowey.

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