Perranwell Viaduct – Goonhavern Halt – Shepherds Station
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This page shows the history of Perranwell Viaduct to Goonhavern Halt to Shepherds Station over the years.
So ended the last run over the line originally constructed in two sections. The first section of about eight miles to Perranporth, was opened on July 6, 1903. The contractor was Arthur Carkeek, who was knighted in 1916. Hundreds of men, without mechanical aids, cut their way through high mounds of stone and rubble, shovelled thousands of tons of rocks into gullies to make embankments, built some thirty bridges and the fine five arch viaduct near Goonbell.
The 10-mile second section from Perranporth to Newquay was completed on January 2, 1905, well behind schedule, as it had been hoped the line would be in use for holidaymakers in the summer of 1904, but the engineers had met considerable difficulty. It was opened on 14th August 1905. At Goonhavern, sand instead of stone was found, and there were many falls.
Ripping up of Newquay line
The final blow came when on 2nd January 1964 when there was a short item in the ‘West Briton’. The final episode in the 60 year history of the Chacewater – Newquay line was begun yesterday, when a start was made on the removal of the rails. A train drawing five trucks went from Chacewater to Shepherds, and this will continue once a week until the rails are removed back to Chacewater.
Shepherds Halt – the true story of Shepherds Station
Recent research into the history of Shepherds Station has unearthed a hitherto unknown and quite interesting story. What most books would lead you to believe is mostly true, but there are sinister undertones involving the War Office, and the British and American Militaries.
Shepherds was a sizeable station, one of only three on the branch (Chacewater – Newquay line), built on traditional lines with a weighbridge, passing loop, separate “up” and “down” platforms and a stationmaster.
The Passenger Service
In the early days of the branch line, passengers were conveyed between Newquay and Chacewater by Steam Railcars but these were not popular and were soon replaced by steam locomotives hauling conventional carriages. To start with, the service was planned to meet the anticipated travelling requirements of potential passengers and in 1905 six trains operated each way between Chacewater and Newquay with one extra train on Saturdays only and no trains on Sundays. lt appears that the running of trains on a Sunday was never contemplated, probably because of the strong Methodist following in the area.
Travel to Truro by train was now cheaper than going via Par and quicker, all be it still by a roundabout route. For example, the ordinary return fare from Newquay to Truro was 2s 6d as opposed to 6s 8d via Par. As traffic increased so the service became more frequent and was eight trains in each direction in 1927 and twelve in 1938 but dropped back to eleven in 1958. From 1962, diesels took over all services. Passenger traffic was light but constant during the winter months and usually heavy during the summer. Beach Halt at Perranporth, opened in July 1931, was the last halt to be built on the line and was popular with those wanting a day out on Perranporth Beach. For those wanting a Railside holiday, there was a camping coach in a siding at Shepherds which was generally well booked.
By the 1960s growth in the ownership and use of cars had significantly reduced the number of passengers travelling by public transport. The Government was looking to reduce subsidies and set in motion a review of railway operations. The so-called “Beeching Plan” was the outcome and proposed the closure of many branch lines where annual expenditure exceeded income. The Chacewater to Newquay branch came into this category despite the fact that, even in winter, it was reckoned that 600 passengers made return journeys daily, and that the line carried a total in excess of 250,000 annually. The economics of operation were considered to be the key factor and receipts only covered about two-thirds of the annual expenditure of £38,000 Economies were made, one being to make Mr. Badcock, the stationmaster at Shepherds, redundant and pass control to the stationmaster at Perranporth, but income never quite matched expenditure. The line always remained “rural” and, in winter, it was part of the guard‘s duty to set up and light the oil lamps at the halts before it became dark and then, on the last train of the day, to switch them off and put them on board the train.
Excerpts from the book on St Newlyn East & Surrounding area.