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Cornwall 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 26 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.

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.

East Wheal Rose Engine House

In 1846 over 1,200 men, women and children were employed in the mine at East Wheal Rose. In those days the valley would have been filled with the sounds of ore being broken up, wagons rolling in and out, steam engines hissing and whistling, and the general hubbub of so many people at work. In an age before television, this scene was the wonder of the neighbourhood and a favourite place for Sunday excursions.

East Wheal Rose Mining Disaster

On the morning of 9th July 1846, it was bright and sunny but at midday heavy clouds formed in the north-west and then gathered directly over East Wheal Rose. A tremendous thunderstorm began, lasting more than an hour and a half. Torrential rain fell on the mine and surrounding hills but, strangely there was no rain at all three miles away.

Becoming a Family Attraction

In 1974, just over ten years after the railway closed, 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. His passion for this project was to create a place for children to play safely and learn about nature from their surroundings.

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