Launceston Steam Railway

The Launceston Steam Railway is narrow gauge railway operating from the town of Launceston in Cornwall. The railway is built on the trackbed of the North Cornwall Railway to the gauge of and runs for 2½ miles to Newmills, where there is a farm park.


Standard Gauge Railway

The first railway to reach Launceston was the Launceston and South Devon Railway, opened in 1865 from Launceston to Plymouth, and later absorbed into the Great Western Railway. In 1886 the London and South Western Railway opened its railway from Halwill Junction, extended to Padstow in stages in the 1890s, and later part of the Southern Railway. The two Launceston stations were side by side: the Great Western closed in 1962 and the Southern in 1966.

Narrow Gauge Revival

In 1965, trainee teacher Nigel Bowman rescued the steam locomotive "Lilian" from the Penrhyn Slate Quarry in North Wales, and restored her to working order at his home in Surrey. He then set about looking for a site to build a railway for Lilian to run on, and settled on Launceston in 1971, after considering a stretch of trackbed from Guildford to Horsham and the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway. Purchase of the trackbed took several years, and the first ½ mile of track opened on Boxing Day 1983. The railway was extended progressively, the latest opening to Newmills in 1995 bringing the line to its current 2½ mile length.

The Route

The LSR starts at a new station just west of the original LSWR station, which is now an industrial estate. Launceston station is the main station on the railway, and the sheds and engineering facilities are located here. The line runs from the station through a cutting, passing under a road bridge and aqueduct carrying a mill leat, before crossing the River Kensey on a 2 arch viaduct. The line is now on an embankment and crosses a bridge over a farm track before arriving at Hunt's Crossing, where it is planned to lay a passing loop. After Hunt's Crossing the line crosses two farm crossings and then reaches Canna Park which was the temporary terminus before the extension to Newmills. From Canna Park there is a fairly short run to Newmills, the current terminus. Adjacent to the Newmills station is the Newmills Farm Park.


All public train services are operated by the steam locomotives, whilst the internal combustion locomotives are used for maintenance work.
Number Name Builder Type Works Number Built Origin Notes
Lilian Hunslet 0-4-0 ST 317 1883 Penrhyn Quarry
Covertcoat Hunslet 0-4-0 ST 679 1898 Dinorwic Quarry Cab and tender added at Launceston
Velinheli Hunslet 0-4-0 ST 409 1886 Dinorwic Quarry Privately owned by James Evans, ex. Inny Valley Railway
Dorothea Hunslet 0-4-0 ST 763 1901 Dorothea slate quarry Currently being rebuilt by Kay Bowman, ran in Winter 2001 using Covertcoat's boiler
Sybil W.G. Bagnall 0-4-0 ST 1760 1906 Dinorwic Quarry Privately owned by James Evans, was stored at Launceston for several years but now dismantled at a private site
38 English Electric 2w-2-2-2wRE 761 1930 Post Office Railway On display in the museum
Motor Rail 4wDM 5646 1933 Grove Heath, Ripley, Surrey
N. Bowman 4wBER 1986 Inspection trolley
Launceston SR 4wDER 2004 Inspection trolley
89 Perseverance C. Parmenter 4wVBT 2004 Constructed on a Hudson chassis

Rolling Stock

The railway has four passenger carriages, all built on site and based on those built for the Manx Electric Railway, Torrington and Marland Railway and the Plynlimon and Hafan Tramway. There are also several ex. RNAD box vans, slate wagons and tipping wagons.

Future Plans

It is a long term plan to extend the railway a further 2 miles to the village of Egloskerry, and it is also planned to construct a replica of the Gyro monorail developed by Louis Brennan.

External links

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