Helston Railway Preservation Company
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|The Helston Railway|
|Original gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Length||1 mi (1.6 km)|
|Preserved gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|2010||HR granted Light Railway Order|
|2012||HR relocates (upwards) into 'a nearby' Prospidnick|
|The Helston Railway|
The Helston Railway is a heritage railway in Cornwall which aims to rebuild and preserve as much as possible of the former 8¾ GWR Helston branch line between Nancegollen and Water-Ma-Trout on the outskirts of Helston. It is operated by the Helston Railway Preservation Company using members of the Helston Railway Preservation Society.
The original concept to re-open the branch was back in 1994 when Mart Hew from Helston and officials from British Rail, surveyed the line with the idea of a feasibility study. It was decided that due to the amount of work needed and the possible revenue that could be generated, it was not worth the effort and the project was dropped. In 2002 the Helston Railway Preservation Society was formed with about 12 members and on 28 April 2005, 40 years after the line was dismantled, work began clearing the overgrown vegetation.
The line was reopened for passengers in December 2011 for the Trevarno Gardens Winter Wonderland. As of September 2012 just under 1 mile (1.6 km) of track had been relaid and is being used for public passenger rides from Prospidnick via Trevarno almost to Truthall Halt.
The line is being rebuilt by volunteers and is funded by proceeds from passenger rides, donations and membership subscriptions, and by members who buy shares in the Helston Railway Company Ltd. Funds are also generated by the railway shop and a buffet. The Preservation Society gained Charity status in March 2012.
The line has five rail vehicles on site: a two-car Park Royal (BR Class 103) DMU, two Ruston & Hornsby 165DS 0-4-0 diesel shunters and a BR 20 ton standard brake van. All of these vehicles are owned by members of the Helston Railway Diesel Group (HRDG) and the Helston Railway is actively restoring some of these vehicles.
Park Royal Class 103
HRDG's first purchase was a British Rail Class 103 DMU, one of only two left in preservation and the only one in a near-working condition. It has been protected by painting, but is not currently under restoration. When purchased from the West Somerset Railway, it was little more than a shell. It is currently in British Rail (BR) green livery. The individual cars are Driving Motor Brake Second (DMBS) 50143 and Driving Motor Lavatory Composite (DTCL) 56169. On 12 October 2008, one of the engines was started for the first time.
Ruston locomotive 327974
One of two Ruston shunter locomotives owned by the HRDG is number 327974. It has been restored, and has had a livery repaint into BR Blue. The locomotive is not currently in use, as a new selector fork is required. The new fork has been cast, and is at February 2013 awaiting machining. It is hoped that the repairs will be complete in time for the 2013 season.
Ruston locomotive 395305
The second of the Ruston 165DS 0-4-0 locomotives is build number 395305. It is in use as at February 2013, however it is due to be replaced by the other shunter, as soon as it becomes available, so that a new radiator can be installed. It is currently painted in BR Black livery.
BR 20-ton standard brake van
HRDG's newest purchase is a BR 20-Ton Standard Brake van, B954673. It had been in a very poor state and has undergone major restoration works which were completed in November 2011; it is in brown. The van was put into use as soon as it was completed and is now carrying passengers on the line.
On 25–26 July 2010, steam returned to Helston for the first time since 1962, during celebration of the completion of the latest station platform on the line and the newest since Truthall Platform in 1905.
The Mayor of Helston officiated at the grand opening of Trevarno Station, on 26 July 2010, with Judy in attendance. Although Judy was in steam and operating on the railway, she was unable to carry passengers, as the company were not authorised to operate passenger trains at the time.
The Helston Railway is accessed by the public at Trevarno Farm near Prospidnick where there is a new car park which opened in late 2012. The trip in the brake van, using one of the Rushton shunters, runs almost to Truthall which is just under 1 mile along the completed track, and then returns to Prospidnick.
Along the line
- Nancegollen – New site proposed, as old (original site) is now redeveloped.
- Trevarno Farm – New operational base and public car park
- It is proposed that a new station will be constructed at Trevarno Farm which will be opened in 2015
- Prospidnick Halt – This is only a temporary platform and is current terminus of the Helston Railway, Though this halt may close when the proposed Trevarno Farm, (whom located just a little north of the halt), opens in 2015.
- Trevarno station – Now disused – This is one third of the way along the line and was until 21 October 2012 the main operational base of the Railway, and where passengers started their journeys.
- Truthall Halt
- Platform cleared and under both reconstruction and restoration to its former glory (and GWR style appearance, respectively).
- Helston (Water-Ma-Trout)
- It is intended that the preserved line will eventually be restored "via across the 4 arch Cober Viaduct" and right onto the outskirts of Helston (where a new and "temporary-replacement" station maybe proposed as the former Helston site itself now sadly lies within private land and redevelopment), however this may take some many years.
Current status of the Helston Rly
As of February 2014:
- The re-laid permanent way is now 1½ mile long, of which all but 175 yards is usable, with the rest awaiting the completion of the restoration of Truthall Halt and track-relaying.
- Discussions are taking place regarding the possibility of obtaining a steam locomotive from private owners.
- Plans to rebuild and restore Truthall Halt are well advanced with planning permission granted, parts of the original platform have since been cleared and uncovered. Restoration of the halt is likely to be completed by "mid-spring" 2014.
- The Trevarno Estate was sold on 22 October 2012, having been purchased by a buyer who is going to use the estate as a private house. The Railway now operates from a new temporary platform 540 yards up the line at Prospidnick. The railway has also constructed a new public car park 200 metres from the platform.
- The platform at Trevarno is now disused but the sidings (now known as Tregadjack sidings) remain and will be used for storage of stock and some maintenance operations.
- It is hoped that restoration will continue south within a few years to Water-Ma-Trout just near Helston; this would also include restoring the old Cober Viaduct.