Heritage
Learn more about the history of Lappa Valley

About Lappa Valley

The Railway still runs live steam on one of the oldest railway track beds in Cornwall, which in the past would have taken mining ore to the port at Newquay and was also utilised during the war for movement of heavy freight.

Lappa Valley is home to the largest remaining Cornish engine house in the country, and its accompanying 120ft chimney stack, an imposing land mark which can be seen for miles. This historical mine was also the site of the largest mining disaster in in Cornwall’s history; sadly in 1846 a flash flood claimed the lives of 39 local men resulting in the closure of the mine. The railway continued to operate until the rail cuts closed the line in 1963. Read more about the East Wheel Rose Engine House and the Disaster that took place in 1846.

Ten years later Eric Booth bought a section of the old railway line and the story of Lappa Valley Steam Railway began. Through hard work and determination Eric built the new railway to realise his vision of a place where children and adults could enjoy the steam train experience and play in safety and learn about nature from their surroundings.

This dream has now been taken on by train enthusiasts Keith and Sara Southwell, who have made some exciting new developments including adding a new steam train aptly named Ruby ’ a little gem to celebrate 40 years’, joining Muffin and Zebedee steaming through the valley.

Keith and Sara are keen to retain the charm and heritage of the site set whilst improving and maintaining the peace and tranquillity and uniqueness of this magical place.

Lappa Valley Steam Railway continues to offer a fantastic day of adventure and discovery for the whole family.

Great Western Railway

In 1896 the Cornwall Minerals Railway was taken over by the Great Western Railway. The GWR saw an opportunity to boost its passenger trade in Cornwall, in competition with the London and South Western Railway, by linking the increasingly popular holiday resorts of Newquay, Perranporth and St. Agnes.

The East Wheal Rose branch was upgraded to carry passenger trains and became part of a new route beginning at Chacewater on the main line to London. The completed passenger line was opened to the public in 1905 and greatly improved the mobility of local people who could now get to the market town of Truro by train.

During the Second World War the line was upgraded to mainline standard for use as a diversionary route in case the line between Truro and St Austell was blocked by an enemy air raid. If you look carefully at the bridge at Metha half way along our steam railway, you will see that it was widened in order to allow wartime traffic, including tanks on flat wagons, to pass through.

From the 1930s until the late 1950s this branchline to the coastal resorts was very busy, particularly with summer holiday-makers. However, by the early 1960s road transport was becoming increasingly competitive and the government called for a review of the nationalised network. Dr. Beeching's report recommended that, among many other lines he considered to be uneconomic, the branch from Newquay to Chacewater should close.

On 4th February 1963 the last standard gauge train ran along the branch line and the track and railway bridges were quickly removed.

Ten years later, in 1973, Eric Booth bought our section of the old railway line and the story of Lappa Valley Steam Railway began.

Minerals Railway 

 

The Lappa Valley Railway runs on one of the oldest railway track beds in Cornwall. In 1843 J. T. Treffry, a pioneer of Cornish railways, suggested building a tramway between Par and the growing port of Newquay, with a branch to East Wheal Rose mine which was then entering its most prosperous period.

It took Treffry six years to overcome local opposition to his scheme and modifications to the route were needed. The tramway was eventually built from Newquay to St. Dennis, with a branch to East Wheal Rose. The first cargo of ore from East Wheal Rose, weighing thirty tons, was carried in horse-drawn tubs to Newquay harbour on 26th February 1849.

In 1874, following an Act of Parliament, Treffry's network of tramways, including the East Wheal Rose branch, was taken over by the Cornwall Minerals Railway and horses were replaced by steam locomotives.