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Lappa Valley to celebrate 50th with biggest gala weekend ever hosted

16 May 2024 | News

One of Cornwall’s most loved attractions will be celebrating its 50th birthday in style, with one of the biggest gala weekends its ever hosted.

Lappa Valley near St Newlyn East was opened by Eric Booth in June 1974, and quickly became a firm family favourite. On the 14th, 15th and 16th June the attraction will be inviting visitors to celebrate with an extra-special gala event, the likes of which have never been seen before.

Based around his love of trains, Eric built Lappa Valley it around a 15 inch gauge railway set along part of the closed GWR Newquay to Chacewater Branchline, in the old boggy mine workings of East Wheal Rose Mine. Under new ownership since 2014, award-winning Lappa Valley now boasts three railways and thirteen steam, diesel, petrol and battery locomotives, along with a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities over a 35 acre site.

Ben Harding, Operations Manager at Lappa Valley said: “As one of Cornwall’s oldest and most loved tourist attractions, we’re really looking forward to celebrating 50 years of helping families creating memories.

“Lappa’s history is so interesting and diverse, from its historical mining and railway background to the way the business has developed to welcoming over 100,000 visitors a year today. We are looking forward to sharing memories from the last 50 years and beyond.”

The special weekend gala will see visiting miniature traction engines and visiting steam locomotives working on the 7 ¼ inch gauge Lakeside Railway.

Meanwhile, services on the main railway will be shared by the pool of steam and diesel locomotives including Lappa Valley’s first ever engine “Zebedee” which will be making its first public appearance in steam following its 3 year rebuild.

Zebedee, Lappa Valley’s flagship engine which will be making a return

“We’ll be running double-headed trains, parallel running where two trains effectively race alongside each other on our double section of track; plus your chance to be a passenger on ‘The Cornishman’ non-stop service which travels straight through the station at East Wheal Rose once a day.

“It’s a very rare we see all of our available locomotives running at the same time, and with services such as these so this is going to be a really special occasion.” Ben added.

There will also be memories and an exhibition with artefacts from Lappa’s history on display, as well as the opportunity to buy the latest guidebook which reflects not only on the railway’s history, but the most recent developments too. Standard admission prices apply for this very special event, with discounted

Eric’s Lappa legacy lives on

Lappa Valley’s current owners Keith and Sara Southwell purchased Lappa Valley from the Booth family in 2014, and have continued to invest and evolve the attraction to ensure it delights families.

“We knew Lappa Valley was a special place the moment we first visited. However, we were blown away by the love people have for our little corner of Cornwall.” said Keith.

“We have regular customers who have been visiting us over generations. Parents who came here as children are now bringing their little ones, and we love playing a part in helping families make memories together.”

A significant amount of investment has been put into the attraction over the last ten years, with numerous new facilities and activities including a new indoor soft play, and this year the introduction of a brand-new diesel locomotive and set of carriages.

“Even though Lappa has grown and evolved over the last 50 years, we’ve been very careful to ensure it retains its charm and reflecting Eric’s original intentions. We are confident he would be pleased with how his vision has grown and brings so many smiles to the faces of young and old alike.

“We really look forward to celebrating with you on the 14th – 16th June.”

Read more about the weekend here

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