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British Industrial History

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Pentewan Railway

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The Pentewan Railway was a British narrow gauge railway in Cornwall. It was built as a horse-drawn tramway carrying china clay from St Austell to the harbour at Pentewan. The line was a 2.5 feet gauge and 4 miles in length. It temporarily closed 1923

In 1874 the line was rebuilt by engineer John Barraclough Fell and converted to locomotive working. The line ran from a clay store in St Austell town, and followed the course of the St Austell River. It serviced a number of small Mica works and other industries along the line, including the St Austell gas works, for which it provided coal.

Coal was also taken to the mica kilns, as well as to the end of the line in St Austell, and an unloading point near London Apprentice for transport to the nearby Polgooth tin mines. Baltic timber was also taken from Pentewan to St Austell for making barrels.

Although the line never officially operated a passenger service, it once took a Sunday school group and brass band to Pentewan. The line's only coach was reserved for its owners, the Hawkins family. There are also second-hand accounts of men who "hitched a ride" by sitting on the loaded wagons.

For the duration of its existence as a locomotive worked line, there was only one driver and fireman, a father and son team. The fireman, J. H. Drew, together with his father, wrote a detailed account of life working on the Pentewan railway. The writings were edited by Dr Michael Lewis, and published by Twelveheads Press in 1986 as a book entitled "Rail & Sail to Pentewan".

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Encyclopedia of British Railway Companies by Christopher Awdry. Published 1990
  • [1] Wikipedia