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History of the Bodmin & Wenford Railway

The Bodmin & Wenford Railway is the former Great Western Railway’s branch line between Bodmin Road (today’s Bodmin Parkway railway station) and Bodmin General railway station in Bodmin, Cornwall. The line was put out of operation in 1983 but it soon reopened as a heritage railway and has been operating as such ever since.

Early History

The Bodmin line has been approved by the Act of Parliament in 1882. Construction started two years later and in 1887, the line officially opened and connected Bodmin Road and Bodmin, covering a distance of 3,5 miles. One year later, additional 3 miles of the line were built, connecting Bodmin to Boscarne Junction which in turn provided a link to the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway (Wadebridge-Wenfordbridge). The latter was built in the 1830s and was one the very first railways to operate steam locomotives not only in Britain but in the entire planet.

In the late 1840s, the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway was acquired by the London & South Western Railway (LSWR) which in turn merged with the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSC), and the South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR) to form the Southern Railway in 1923. After nationalisation and formation of the British Railways (BR) in 1948, the newly founded railway company became the Southern Region of BR, while the Great Western Railway and its stations were taken over by the BR Western Region.

Closure and Efforts for Revival

Passenger traffic services on the line were withdrawn in the 1960s but the freight trains continued to operate until the late 1970s. In 1978, the line Bodmin Road - Wadebridge closed. The china clay trains continued to haul to Wenfordbridge until 1983. With the closure of the latter, the entire Bodmin line was closed completely. Soon, however, the newly formed Bodmin Railway Preservation Society began to campaign for its revival as a heritage railway.

Reopening as the Bodmin & Wenford Railway

In 1986, the former branch line between Bodmin Road and Bodmin General opened as the Bodmin & Wenford Railway which will soon celebrate its 30th anniversary. Three years later, it was granted the Light Railway Order and in 1990, passenger services between Bodmin Road (now Bodmin Parkway) and Bodmin General were restored. Later, the line was also expanded to the Boscarne Junction.