Bodmin and Wenford Railway

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The Bodmin and Wenford railway is the only standard gauge steam line situated in Cornwall. The main station at Bodmin General was originally the end of a Great Western Railway branch line, built in 1887, from Bodmin Road on the main line between Plymouth and Penzance. A year later it became a junction when the line was extended to Boscarne Junction to meet with the Wadebridge to Wenfordbridge line of the Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway, originally opened in 1834.

The preserved line is the section between Bodmin Road (now called Bodmin Parkway), Bodmin General and Boscarne Junction. This, I believe, makes it the only preserved standard gauge line in England that is formed with two branches. Both line are steeply graded with many sections of 1 in 40 with the only level section being the Bodmin General station area. The steep gradients make the lines small tank engines work hard on every journey and some sharp curves mean that larger engines are unable to be used.

British Railways closed the line to passengers in 1967 and to freight in 1983. The preservationists were soon making plans and the first Open Day was held in 1986, with services between Bodmin General and Bodmin Parkway starting in 1989 although for the first eight months passengers were not allowed to get out of the train at Parkway due to work being needed on the track layout and platform. The other branch to Boscarne Junction was reopened in 1996 and the aim is to extend from Boscarne Junction to Wadebridge in due course.

The day of my trip saw GWR '5700' class 0-6-0PT No. 4612 in action with both branches being served by two services during the day. The service first took the nearly three mile long branch to Boscarne Junction before returning to Bodmin General. After a short wait while the engine was filled with water we then took the slightly longer route to Bodmin Parkway via Colesloggett Halt which was built in 1992 and links to a footpath to Cardinham Woods. On both journeys the real work of getting the train up a steep gradient is on the second half of the trip returning to Bodmin General.

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