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British Industrial History

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West Cornwall Railway

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Aug 1935. GWR Centenary.
December 1957.

The West Cornwall Railway was a railway company in Cornwall. It ran from a junction with the Truro-Falmouth line of the Cornwall Railway, in the parish of Carredras near Truro, to Penzance.

Powers to purchase the Hayle Railway were obtained and, because that line was of the standard gauge, the Act authorised the West Cornwall to be on the same gauge so that the engines and rolling stock of the Hayle line might be used. It was, however, provided that should any other railway be made in Cornwall the Railway Commissioners could order the West Cornwall to adopt the broad gauge or to lay down an additional rail to suit the broad-gauge system. When through-communication from Plymouth was established the latter alternative was adopted.

1844 The company was formed to operate the existing Hayle Railway between the towns of Hayle and Redruth and extend the railway to Penzance and Truro.

1855 The last portion of the line to Penzance was opened on July 16th, 1855, four years before the Cornwall Railway reached Truro.[1]

NB. There were ten of the well-known Brunel-built wooden viaducts between Truro and Penzance. They have now (1924) disappeared, having been replaced by stone structures.

1866 The West Cornwall Railway was leased to the Great Western Railway, Bristol and Exeter Railway and South Devon Railway which resulted in direct services to London from Penzance for the first time after the broad gauge had been added to the existing standard gauge tracks.

1876 Following the amalgamations of 1876 the Great Western Railway was the sole leasor until the nationalisation of British Railways on 1 January 1948. The broad gauge was disused after 20 May 1892.

  • 1837 Hayle Railway opened to Pool for goods traffic, also branches to Portreath, Roskear, and North Crofty
  • 1838 Main line competed to Redruth, also branch to Tresavean
  • 1843 Passenger services introduced on main line
  • 1846 West Cornwall Railway replaces Hayle Railway
  • 1852 West Cornwall Railway opened from Truro Road to Penzance, also Hayle Wharves branch
  • 1855 Line extended to Truro Newham
  • 1859 Cornwall Railway opened to new joint station at Truro
  • 1865 Railway leased jointly to the Great Western Railway, Bristol and Exeter Railway, and South Devon Railway
  • 1866 Broad gauge laid along the main line
  • 1877 St Ives branch opened, the last new broad gauge passenger line
  • 1887 Helston Railway opened from Gwinear Road
  • 1892 Broad gauge abandoned, St Ives line converted to standard gauge
  • 1936 Portreath and Tresavean branches closed
  • 1947 West Cornwall Railway Company nationalised into British Railways
  • 1948 North Crofty branch closed
  • 1962 Helston branch closed
  • 1963 Roskear branch closed
  • 1972 Newham branch closed
  • 1983 Hayle Wharves branch closed

See Also


Sources of Information

[1] Wikipedia

  1. The Engineer 1924/10/17