Cornwall Tramways and Railways

Cornwall Mineral Railways and Tramways

A series of separate mineral tramways and railways grew up in Cornwall to transport ore from the mines to the coast.

In Redruth in 1784 the Scot, WilliamMurdoch, built a small steam powered model, which was the first vehicle to run under steam powerl. The Cornish engineer, Richard Trevithick, built a steam road carriage in 1801, and ran it in Camborne. He went on to develop steam for railway use, at Penydarren in South Wales in 1803. Still horses pulled some of the trains for many years after steam was applied to rail power.

1809-c1860: Poldice Tramway. The earliest above-ground railway in Cornwall itself was the horse-drawn mineral Poldice Tramway from to Portreath, on the coast, to the great Gwennap copper mines.

1826-1915: Redruth and Chacewater Railway. The Redruth and Chacewater Railway serviced the mines of Gwennap and Redruth It worked with horses until 1854, when two tank engines, Miner and Smelter.

1829-1918: Pentewan Railway. Christopher Hawkins built the Pentewan Railway to carry China Clay. It worked by horse-power until 1874, and ran from just outside St. Austell to the port of Pentewan, four miles away.

1834-1983: Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway. Local landowner Sir William Molesworth built the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway in 1834, to carry sea sand needed to sweeten inland farmland, from Wadebridge to the moors. Today the Bodmin & Wenford Railway operates steam and diesel passenger and freight trains

1837- : The Hayle Railway ran eastwards to Redruth, and from Redruth Junction north to Portreath and south to Tresavean, again built to profit from the mining industry’s need to transport ore for shipping. The Hayle & Portreath Railway used steam locomotion from the start.

1844- : The Liskeard and Caradon Railway was built to supplement the work of the Liskeard and Looe Union Canal of 1828, carrying ore and granite from the Caradon area towards Looe. The Liskeard and Caradon Railway eventually ran down to the sea.

1847- : Par Railway. By 1847 J T Treffry had built a canal from Par to Ponts Mill, and a tramroad, the Par Railway, from Ponts Mill to Molinnis near Bugle. This was extended alongside the canal down to Par in 1855.

1849- : Newquay Railway. Treffry opened the Newquay Railway track from Newquay Harbour to St Dennis with a branch to the East Wheal Rose lead mine. In 1873 these were to form part of the Cornwall Minerals Railway.

1852- : The West Cornwall Railway. To extend the Hayle Railway westward, the West Cornwall Railway ran from Penzance to Redruth and a little later to Truro.

1859- : The Cornwall Railway. The building of Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash in 1859 meant rail travel and transport could link Penzance and Plymouth.

1862 East Cornwall Railway.

1863 Fowey – Lostwithiel.

1869 Newquay & Cornwall Junction Railway

1874 Cornwall Minerals Railway