Launceston Steam Railway

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Coordinates: 50°38′28″N 4°21′54″W / 50.641°N 4.365°W / 50.641; -4.365

Launceston Steam Railway
Steam Engine at Newmills - - 1193294.jpg
Locale Launceston, Cornwall, UK
Terminus Launceston
Commercial operations
Name North Cornwall Railway
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Owned by The Spice Settlement Trust Co. Ltd
Operated by The Spice Settlement Trust Co. Ltd
Stations 4
Length 2 12 miles (4 km)
Preserved gauge 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mm)
Commercial history
Opened 21 July 1892
Closed 30 January 1967
Preservation history
1965 Steam locomotive Lilian rescued
1983 Launceston Steam Railway opened
1995 Extension to Newmills opened

The Launceston Steam Railway is a 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mm) narrow gauge railway operating from the town of Launceston in Cornwall. The railway is built on the trackbed of the North Cornwall Railway to 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mm) narrow gauge and runs for 2 12 miles (4 km) to Newmills, where there is a farm park.


Standard gauge railway[edit]

The first railway to reach Launceston was the Launceston and South Devon Railway, opened in 1865 from Launceston to Plymouth, and later absorbed into the Great Western Railway. In 1886 the London and South Western Railway opened its railway from Halwill Junction, extended to Padstow in stages in the 1890s, and later part of the Southern Railway. The two Launceston stations were side by side: the Great Western closed in 1962 and the Southern in 1966.

Narrow gauge revival[edit]

In 1965, trainee teacher Nigel Bowman rescued the steam locomotive "Lilian" from the Penrhyn Slate Quarry in North Wales, and restored her to working order at his home in Surrey. He then set about looking for a site to build a railway for Lilian to run on, and settled on Launceston in 1971, after considering a stretch of trackbed from Guildford to Horsham and the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway. Purchase of the trackbed took several years, and the first 12 mile (0.8 km) of track opened on Boxing Day 1983. The railway was extended progressively, the latest opening to Newmills in 1995 bringing the line to its current 2 12-mile (4 km) length.

Launceston Steam Railway
North Cornwall Railway to Halwill Junction
Mill leat
River Kensey
Farm Crossing
Hunt's Crossing
Farm Crossing
Canna Park
North Cornwall Railway to Padstow


The LSR starts at a new station just west of the original LSWR station, which is now an industrial estate. Launceston station is the main station on the railway, and the sheds and engineering facilities are located here. The line runs from the station through a cutting, passing under a road bridge and aqueduct carrying a mill leat, before crossing the River Kensey on a two-arch viaduct. The line is now on an embankment and crosses a bridge over a farm track before arriving at Hunt's Crossing, where it is planned to lay a passing loop. After Hunt's Crossing the line crosses two farm crossings and then reaches Canna Park which was the temporary terminus before the extension to Newmills. From Canna Park there is a fairly short run to Newmills, the terminus. Adjacent to the Newmills station is the Newmills Farm Park.


All public train services are operated by the steam locomotives, whilst the internal combustion locomotives are used for maintenance work.

Steam locomotives[edit]

Number Name Builder Type Works Number Built Origin Notes
Lilian Hunslet 0-4-0 ST 317 1883 Penrhyn Quarry New boiler fitted in 1993 and tender added in 2008
Covertcoat Hunslet 0-4-0 ST 679 1898 Dinorwic Quarry Cab and tender added at Launceston
Velinheli Hunslet 0-4-0 ST 409 1886 Dinorwic Quarry Privately owned by James Evans, ex. Inny Valley Railway.
Dorothea Hunslet 0-4-0 ST 763 1901 Dorothea slate quarry Restored over 22 years by Kay Bowman, first steamed in November 2011 and entered passenger service in 2012.
89 Perseverance C. Parmenter 2w-2VBT[1]
2004 Constructed on a Hudson chassis

Internal Combustion and Battery Electric[edit]

Number Name Builder Type Works Number Built Origin Notes
38 English Electric 2w-2-2-2wRE 761 1930 Post Office Railway On display in the museum
42 English Electric 2w-2-2-2wRE 1930 Post Office Railway To be rebuilt as railcar power bogie
Motor Rail 4wDM 5646 1933 Grove Heath, Ripley, Surrey
N. Bowman 4wBER 1986 Inspection trolley
Launceston SR 4wDER 2004 Inspection trolley

Visiting locomotives[edit]

Number Name Builder Year Visited Location Notes
Lilla Hunslet 1998 Ffestiniog Railway
Pearl 2 A. Civil 2001 Golden Valley Light Railway
Dame Ann Exmoor Steam Railway 2004 Wales West, Alabama
19 Sharp Stewart 2009 Beeches Light Railway
Gertrude Andrew Barclay 2009 Exmoor Transport
Lyd Boston Lodge 2010 Ffestiniog Railway
Roanoke Engineering 2010 & 2011 Private Vertical boilered tram locomotive

Rolling stock[edit]

The railway has four passenger carriages, all built on site and based on those built for the Manx Electric Railway, Torrington and Marland Railway and the Plynlimon and Hafan Tramway. There are also several ex. RNAD box vans, slate wagons and tipping wagons.


It is a long term plan to extend the railway a further two miles (3.2 km) to the village of Egloskerry, incorporating a new cycle trail, and it is also planned to construct a replica of the Gyro monorail developed by Louis Brennan.


  1. ^ Industrial Railway Society (2012). Industrial Locomotives (16EL). Industrial Railway Society. ISBN 978 1 901556 78 0. 

External links[edit]