Launceston Steam Railway

Launceston Steam Railway

The Old Gasworks, St. Thomas Road, Launceston,
PL15 8DA
Tel: (01566) 775665
Email: enquiries@launcestonsr.co.uk
Web: www.launcestonsr.co.uk

 

Five mile round trip along the old North Cornwall Railway

The Launceston Steam Railway links the historic town with the hamlet of Newmills. Travelling through glorious countryside your train is hauled by veteran locomotives built in Victoria's reign. You can ride in open or enclosed carriages depending on the weather; whatever you choose, you are assured of a marvellous view. A seat in the front of the train is as good as being on the footplate.

Tickets are valid for unlimited travel on the date of issue, so you can break your journey for a riverside picnic or explore the footpaths around Newmills.

Launceston Station is the place to wander around the Railway Workshops and the Transport Museum, or browse in the much acclaimed Gift Shop with it's well-stocked Bookshop.

A wide choice of refreshments are available at the Railway Buffet, including of course cream teas!

Visitors have a choice of walks all starting from the Railway Station. A short stroll takes in the ruins of the ancient Priory and includes the medieval Priors bridge over the River Kensey (don't forget to feed the ducks). A longer and very interesting walk is the "Launceston Town Trail". Pick up a leaflet at the Station and set off to discover the unique hill-top town.

After all this, remember, you can return for another ride at no extra cost. Wet or dry Launceston and it's Steam Railway makes a great day out.

Newmills station is the end of the line, and the train will be here for about 10 minutes while the locomotive runs round the train. From the station there are a choice of footpaths (ask for a leaflet.), including a hilly walk which leads to Tregadillett with its renowned pub or on a more level route which leads to Hidden Valley.

Next to the station at Newmills is the riverside farm park with indoor and outdoor games for children. The park is not owned by the railway company so there is a small charge - but we heartily recommend a visit.

History

In 1965, Nigel Bowman purchased the locomotive Lilian from the Penrhyn Slate Quarry in North Wales. Although on a teacher training course, he set up a workshop and foundry at his parents' home where Lilian was re-built. In 1968, Lilian returned to steam and was occasionally used on a short length of track owned by a friend. With a locomotive, Nigel Bowman started looking for somewhere to run Lilian on his own railway. He decided to abandon his career in teaching to build a railway to run Lilian on. However, with land prices in Surrey rocketing, and unsympathetic planners, it was decided to look elsewhere. By 1971, after looking at various sites, Nigel had identified Launceston as a possibility. With former school friend Jim Stone, an approach was made to Launceston Council, with proposals to lay a narrow gauge railway. This was supported from the outset by the council, and the task of purchasing the trackbed started. Much of the twelve years between the initial idea and opening was taken up by legal wrangles for odd parcels of land which had become the target of property speculators. For example, the site of the current Launceston Station was destined to become a housing development, however, the property boom quietened by the mid 1970's, allowing the purchase of the land. The first half mile of track which opened on Boxing Day 1983. Since then progressive extensions have been made, the latest to Newmills opening in 1995.

The car park at Launceston is the site of the LSWR station, while the station is the site of a rail served gas works. The cafe and booking office were built in 1919 for the first Ideal Home Exhibition, and were erected as a 3-bedroom bungalow in Surrey. The canopy is from Tavistock North, and was erected in 1987. The workshop and museum buildings were originally used by the Launceston Gas Company. In the winter of 1985/6, the level of the station area was raised in a scheme to prevent the adjacent road collapsing into the railway cutting.

Away from Launceston the railway was gradually extended along the Kensey Valley: to Hunts Crossing and then Canna Park in the 1980's, with the final half mile of track to Newmills opening in 1995.

With a train every 40 minutes or so, many passengers choose to enjoy a walk in the valley, and return on a later service. The guard will stop the train, on request, at Deer Park or Hunts Crossing.

Location

Just north of Launceston town centre on the A388 down the hill from Launceston Castle.

Opening Times

10.30am - 4.30pm
Daily (Except Saturdays)
Easter to end of October
Santa specials in December

Admission Charged

Launceston       Launceston Castle       Lawrence House Museum       Hidden Valley Discovery Park

New Mills Farm Park       Trethorne Leisure Park       Cornwall's Railways       Antique Chairs Museum