The news that we receive concerning abandoned railways is published first in our quarterly magazine, so that our members benefit first. However, after each publication, a selection of main news stories is then published here. Prior to 1st June 2020, we used to publish news on this website first; see below for the links. The first bulk publication of news cascaded from our magazine will appear here in October, after members have received their copies of the Autumn edition.
The extent to which old railways remain in the news may come as a surprise, but we think this reflects a national sense that past governments went overboard with railway closures. Nowadays, national government, local government and local communities are all interested in undoing the damage, whether by re-opening lost lines, or putting them to constructive new use. However, as observed elsewhere on this site, railway re-opening proposals face the difficulty that Victorian engineering standards fall far short of their modern counterparts, e.g. in the slopes permitted on the sides of embankments and cuttings. Even proposals for rail trails face the difficulty that most former railway land is now privately owned.
Due to the pandemic, little development is taking place on rail trails currently, hence the paucity of stories below.
Bennerley Viaduct, Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire. The restoration of Bennerley Viaduct on the Notts/Derbs border was suspended on 24th March, just as the coronavirus lockdown was introduced. However, Bill Tomson, who oversees this project on behalf of the charity Railway Paths Ltd., has informed the club that the contractors re-started their work on Monday 18th May. The intention is to develop the viaduct as an aerial walkway across the Erewash Valley, linking the canal towpaths on either side to create new walking opportunities in the area. (Bill Tomson)
Newquay to Perranporth, Cornwall. The former Newquay to Chacewater railway between Newquay and Perranporth is due for a new lease of life as a rail trail thanks to a Cornwall Council project to create four new walking and cycling routes under the name ‘The Saints Trails’. Outline details and a high quality map can be found at the first link below. Surprisingly, most of the funding will come from Highways England. (Peter Murnaghan) Update: According to Cornwall Council’s website (see second link below), work on the Newquay Perrranporth trail started in January 2020 in the Goonhavern area. The route was due to be completed by March 2021, but obviously this date will be missed by several months due to the pandemic. (Jeff Vinter)
- Newquay-Perranporth Map: www.cornwall.gov.uk/media/39572748/10-intro-route.pdf
- Saints Trails Latest News: www.cornwall.gov.uk/transport-and-streets/sustainable-transport/active-travel-walking-and-cycling/saints-trails/latest-news/
Weymouth to Portland, Dorset. Work continues in Rodwell, Weymouth, at the Buxton Road overbridge (grid reference SY 675779) on eponymous The Rodwell Trail, which re-uses the northern part of the former joint LSWR and GWR branch line from Melcombe Regis to Easton. The work, which should be finished in June, is an ‘inspection on steroids’, in which any faults are being remedied by the local council’s contractors. (Tim Chant)
Moretonhampstead, Devon. Further to our report in January this year, it transpires that the local resident who informed our walk leader that the town’s old station was to be re-developed, with the historic railway remains being lost … was right about the development but wrong about the rest. Historic England reports that the goods shed (to be converted for residential use) and platform (which may be ‘lost’ or buried) both fall within the developer’s plans, but the engine shed is outside the development area and will survive because it is listed. HE also tells us that the line of the platform will be retained in the development, while back in January we reported that the developer was sympathetic to creating access to the new Wray Valley Way directly from the station area; currently, walkers and cyclists wishing to follow this railway path south to Lustleigh and Bovey Tracey must take a long diversion via the town centre. (Brian George and Jeff Vinter)