History of Helston Branch

The Helston Railway Company was formed in 1879 to construct a line of eight miles 67 chains to Gwinear Road on the Great Western Railway. The company stated in their prospectus that:" The shortest and cheapest route has been selected, as well as the one likely to secure the greatest traffic".They proposed that Helston would be the terminus with a view to extending the railway to The Lizard, with tourist traffic increasing - particularly in the Falmouth area. Considerable market research had been undertaken, asthe prospectus stated: Helston is the centre of an important and productive Agricultural District with Passenger , Good, Mineral and Fish traffic being expected'.

Construction work started on 22nd March 1882 with the approval of the Great Western Railway who agreed to give the Helston Railway seven years' free use of their Gwinear Road site. They also agreed to supply locomotives and rolling stock and to maintain the permanent way. Constructional problems occurred during 1884 but the line was given Board of Trade approval on 6th May 1887, commencing operations on Monday 9nd May.

Helston was only seen as a "temporary" terminus of the line. The Directors had been told on the opening day that if they " could see there way clear to find a further £100,000 then they should have a railway line open to the Lizard two years from today!

The Great Western Railway purchased the line on 1st July 1898 with the full support of the Directors. Further expenditure was avoided, although a Light Railway Order had been obtained for the extension to the Lizard, because of the success of the Great Western Railway bus service to The Lizard - introduced on 17th August 1903 - and the proposed extension to The Lizard was never built.

The Branch remained open to Passenger Traffic until Saturday 3rd November 1962 but continued with freight traffic for two further years. The track plan was designed as a through Station but certain adjustments were made during Helston's railway lifetime.

The original diagram showed a direct link from the centre line into the Engine Shed which was removed in 1920. Perhaps more interesting was the 'back' siding used for stone traffic which connected with the loading dock siding. This was removed during the mid 1930's and restored until well into British Railways era, possibly around 1954. In considering operating Helston as a Model Railway and particular entertaining the Exhibition visitor I decided the model would not include this siding but the layout would still be authentic, supported by the various operating information in my possession.