Brownqueen Tunnel

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Brownqueen Tunnel
Other name(s) Brown Queen Tunnel
Location Cornwall, England
Coordinates North Portal:
50°26′06″N 4°40′51″W / 50.434958°N 4.680927°W / 50.434958; -4.680927 (Brownqueen Tunnel north portal)
South Portal:
50°26′03″N 4°40′51″W / 50.43422°N 4.680884°W / 50.43422; -4.680884 (Brownqueen Tunnel south portal)
Status Active
Opened 4 May 1859 (1859-05-04)
Operator Cornish Main Line
Character Through-rail passenger and freight.
No. of tracks 2 single track
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) (standard gauge)

Brownqueen Tunnel, also called Brown Queen Tunnel, is a railway tunnel on the Cornish Main Line between Lostwithiel and Bodmin Parkway stations in Cornwall, England.


Brownqueen Tunnel is 264 feet (80 m) long and situated just above the River Fowey, about a 25.75 miles (41.44 km) train ride east of Truro in the county of Cornwall.[1] This tunnel is in the same area as "Brownqueen Wood" which is a small forested area of about 6.08 hectares (15.0 acres).[2]

South of the tunnel, trains pass Restormel Castle, one of the four chief Norman castles of Cornwall.[3] To the north of the tunnel is the historic Glynn House and Bodmin Parkway station.[1][4]


The tunnel opened on 4 May 1859, when the Cornwall Railway opened between Plymouth and Truro, and is still in use today.[1]

This is one of five tunnels on the Cornwall Railway, all of which are lined with masonry and topped by brickwork at the crown of the arch.[1] This tunnel passes through 216 feet (66 m) of hard greenstone which the builders were able to drill and blast through using nine tons of powder (because dynamite had not yet been invented).[1]

Suicide of Silvanus Trevail[edit]

On 7 November 1903, the architect Silvanus Trevail committed suicide in the toilet of a train in the tunnel. Trevail caught the 11.40 up train from Truro, having purchased a third class ticket, a peculiar event as he typically travelled first class. At Par railway station he was witnessed leaving his seat and going to the toilet. As the train entered the Brownqueen tunnel, Trevail shot himself; when the train stopped at Bodmin Road, a porter was called, and Trevail’s body was found lying across the toilet.[5][6]


The name "Brownqueen", which applies to both the tunnel and the forest around it, is a modern corruption of the old Cornish term "Brow Gwyn", meaning "white mound".[7] It is also spelled "brownquin", and can be translated as "white hill".[8]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Cornwall—History of the Company", Railway Times, Volume 22, pp. 561-562 (March 14, 1859).
  2. ^ "Brownqueen Wood", Woodland Trust. Accessed June 3, 2016.
  3. ^ Way, Robert. Famous British trains: a chronicle of the daily work of the named expresses, p. 150 (Nicholson and Watson limited, 1936).
  4. ^ Views of tunnel with map of environs, Cornwall Railway Society
  5. ^ Silvanus Trevail Newsletter 2002
  6. ^ Perry, Ronald and Harradence, Hazel. Silvanus Trevail: Cornish Architect and Entrepreneur (Francis Boutle Publishers, 2008).
  7. ^ A Handbook for Travellers in Cornwall, p. 47 (11th edition, John Murray, 1906).
  8. ^ A Glossary of Cornish Names, Ancient and Modern, Local, Family, Personal, &c: 20,000 Celtic and Other Names, Now Or Formerly in Use in Cornwall, p. 17 (Williams & Nargate, 1871).