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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Launceston Steam Railway

In a nutshell

Gauge:        1’11½”

Length:      2½ miles

Opened:     1983


Launceston Steam Railway,
St. Thomas Road,
PL15 8DA


Tel:        01566 775665  


Date of visit:     9 June 2015

Key Facts

  • The base for the railway is at the former LWSR Launceston Station
  • A railway serving Launceston was originally constructed in 1865 for the Launceston and South Devon Railway connecting Launceston to Plymouth. 
  • Nigel Bowman bought a Hunslet locomotive, 'Lilian' from the Penrhyn Slate Quarry in North Wales and, after rebuilding her, bought the stretch of line from Launceston station to have somewhere to run her.
  • The first ½ mile of track opened in 1983..
  • The car park is on the site of the original LSWR station, while the station for the Launceston Steam Railway is on the site of a gas works served by the railway. The railway's workshop and museum are housed in the former gas works' buildings.
  • The railway now possesses four Hunslet steam locomotives, a vertical boilered loco and three petrol/diesel powered locos.
  • The line's four coaches are based on those from a variety of locations, including the Isle of Man and the Plynlimon and Hafan Tramway.
  • A ticket entitles you to ride on trains as often as you wish during the day
  • Trains run every half hour.
  • There is a shop, bookshop, gift shop, cafe and museum at the station in Launceston.
  • At the other end of the line there is a farm park for youngsters and their parents.


My Impressions

My first impression of the railway was gained after parking the car and walking from the car park (on the site of the original standard gauge station) under the road bridge.........

......  to the well established station buildings of the the railway.

The LSR station is built on the site of a gas works and some of the original buildings are now used to house a small museum, in which there is an eclectic range of  exhibits from road vehicles, such as an Austin Seven, to a printing press.

After browsing the book shop, buying a ticket and indulging in some light refreshment in the cafe (a discount on the cream tea on production of a valid train ticket), I spent a while watching some train movements.

Trains run every hour on the hour and so there is regular activity to keep observers such as myself interested.

The loco which was rostered for that day's services was the line's original Penrhyn Quarry Hunslet, Lilian. Whilst I was there she was taken out three times, with three different drivers, including the owners;  Kay and Nigel Bowman.

After rewatering .......

..... our loco joined the front of the train ......

..... to await the off.

The carriage stock is delightfully quirky. The three coaches in our train ranged from a replica of the carriage that once ran on the Torrington & Marland 3' gauge railway in Devon, .......

...... a coach modelled on one from the Plynlimon & Hafan Tramway .......

 ..... to one based on a Manx Electric Railway trailer car.

Eventually, I boarded a train and awaited the guard's whistle.

After passing beneath the road bridge and aqueduct which once served the corn mill in the town .......

...... we took to open country alongside the River Kensey.

After a pleasant fifteen minute journey, we arrived at the terminus at the other end of the line, Newmills.

The loco ran round the train .......

..... and prepared for the return journey.

There is a farm park and picnic site at Newmills and as most of the children and parents on the Down train paid a visit to it, there were fewer passengers on the return journey.

We steamed into Launceston .........

.... coasting to a halt at the platform.

There was plenty to keep me interested at the station for an afternoon and I could have travelled up and down the line as many times as I wanted with my Day Rover ticket. I would like to return when the railway has a gala event, and see more of their locos in steam ..... but for the meantime, I was very pleased (or should that be chuffed) with my visit to the Launceston Steam Railway.


[In preparation] 

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