Cornish Steam Trains
My name is Juan and I have had a deep fascination with steam trains ever since I was a little boy when my father bought me a model steam train set when I was about nine.
Although I now live in Delaware, US I have relatives in England and I wanted to build my own website dedicated to steam trains and in particular my focus will be on Cornish trains and steam engines that were used many years ago to power the tin, copper and iron mines in in the South West of England and also in later years used to transport people and goods in and out of this beautiful county. When I’m not reading books about trains I like to play some steam train simulations and train games – by now you have probably guessed I’m a complete train nut.
There are a few steam trains still working in Cornwall and today are major tourist attractions. Luckily, I have been on them all and would recommend every one of them if you are into nostalgic travel or are interested in trains.
UK Travel tips
Since i started this website I have had quite a emails asking me if I can recommend hotels, car hire companies, etc. Folks Rail fans who fly in from the Stated might be interested to know which services I use while I’m travelling around in the UK.
Airports – I always fly in to London Gatwick or Heathrow Airports. For me they have the best inter-connecting links and there are plenty of US airlines who operate to these airports. I fly in from JFK airport, New York.
Car Hire – I like to use a car rental company that is located close to Gatwick Airport. Easirent have good prices and they will pick you up from the airport to the office which is important to me, you can book at their website:
Hotels – I try to book into a Hilton Hotel as us Americans like our home comforts, thankfully there is a Hilton at Gatwick Airport:
Cornwall Train Lines I have Visited
Bodmin & Wenford Railway – VISIT WEBSITE
One of my favourite lines, so firstly a little background information and history. The main Cornwall railroad route was open for business in the late 1850s and in later years formed was was called the Great Western Railway. There was a station on Bodmin Road that was completed in 1887 after Westminster passed and authorised the rail road to be built in 1882.
As with many other rail lines this particular route was taken over and expanded upon throughout the years and is widely regarded as the first lines to use steam locomotives in the UK and the world. In the early 1920s the line was once again changed and integrated into what was then called The Southern Railway and steam engines were still being used right up until the 1960s.
Today, the line is visited by thousands of visitors every year and is supported by volunteers who work the line for more than 200 days out of 365. Please support this railway if you can – staff do not get paid and it is truly a remarkable experience should you ever holiday in Cornwall.
Lappa Railway – VISIT WEBSITE
I find the link between mining and steam fascinating. Not just the engines where they were used years ago to help extract ore but the steam trains used to freight large cargo through hilly and unforgiving terrain must have been a sight to see and I would imagine very dangerous for workers who risked their lives in the day.
The Lappa Railway is a living example of a steam train that used to cargo ore to the big towns and ports in the south of England. It also has a wonderful engine house and you will probably notice the 100ft plus tower before you see anything else.
Running on one of the oldest tracks in Cornwall the line was orchestrated by railroad pioneer J. T. Treffry who, despite some strong protests from local residents built the line over a six year period. Finally, the end stations of Newquay and St. Denis was separated by rail track that also included the East Wheal Rose.
The line runs two miniature trains and you can go on as many times as you like but please give way to new passengers. The admission fee includes everything apart from the electric rides and they welcome dogs too.
Launceston Steam Railway – VISIT WEBSITE
I first travelled this line in 2013 and it is a fantastic journey that connects the picturesque town of Launceston to Newmills. The line is only about 2.5 miles in length but the scenery, views and whole experience makes this steam train line a must see. The track was previously used on the North Cornwall Railway and the trains used today are Victorian, narrowed gauged and consist of both open and closed carriages.
Originally built in the mid-1860s the line was called Launceston and South Devon Railway and used Brunels wide gauge of 7 foot and ¼ inch. Like many other lines of this ilk, it closed in the 1960s only for a man called Nigel Bowman to start his dream of owning a steam railway line to slowly resurrect this line and bring steam engines back to life.
Throughout the years the line was extended more and more. This was made difficult because the railway ran through premium land that was too expensive to initially purchase but finally, when land prices fell the line was suitable for its first maiden engine run – this was in 1983 and the last part of the track to Newmills being completed in the mid-1990s.
The line is closed during the winter months, this is when stock is repaired and track is maintained. So please plan ahead if you are thinking of visiting. Prices are reasonable with the family ticket offering very good value for money.