The new line leaving the main line near this station and rejoining the existing line at Sandplace. Keith and myself left by train at 06.35 in the morning, arriving at 08.05 just as the sun was rising at Menheniot. This train was a London train, first stop from Penzance was Camborne,then Redruth, Truro, St Austell, Lostwithiel and all stations to Saltash. we walked the proposed route to Sandplace, then returning by foot via Causeland, St Keyne, Coombe Junction to Liskeard Station. which was a few miles indeed.
Many thanks to Roy Hart for these.
As is well known, the Hayle wharves branch resulted from the construction of the West Cornwall Railway's high level line through Hayle. The descent was steep and a catch point and sand drag (historically, the first, it is thought) had to be provided.
At the foot of the descent was a logistical nightmare: a railway line which split in two (either to wharves or left to Penpol) as it crossed the A30 road, coinciding with a road junction and a swingbridge.
The wharf branch was worked by wooden train staff and descending trains as they reached the crossing, met the junction on the left side for Penpol sidings. These were a fan of three sidings serving Hayle gasworks (the site is Philps' pasty emporium today!). A horse-worked spur led along Penpol Terrace, beneath the viaduct, to the site of Harvey & Co engineers.
After passing over the level crossing and the swing bridge over Copperhouse Creek, the train passed a ground frame opating a catchpoint and a level crossing gate, protecting the wharf road and railway when the bridge was open.
Ahead lay the extensive wharf sidings. To the right, the old Hayle railway trackbed survives. It was relaid in 1917 to serve the explosive works at Upton Towans. This line closed about 1920, but the track was still there in the 1930s.
The operation of the swingbridge must have been great fun. Here's how it worked:
First, representatives of the gas and water utilities had to be present, to disconnect their pipes on the bridge. Permanent way had to disconnect the rails. A porter at the ground frame. The bridge operator in the pump house (this was a red-brick structure on the seaward side of the bridge. It contained the hydraulic pump which moved the bridge). No doubt various inspectors would be around as well.
First, the signalman would reverse the points leading to Penpol, thus diverting potential runaways to the gasworks (!). Attached to this lever was a key, which could only be withdrawn when the lever was reversed. This was handed to the man at the ground frame, who used it to release his levers to open the catch point and lock the gate across the road. Now the North end of the bridge was protected. At the GF, the reversing of the catch point lever released another key, which was handed to the man in the pump house, who inserted it into the lock to free the bridge mechanism. The bridge was then swung.
Then all of this was done in reverse!
I have found no record of when the bridge last moved. Possibly around the time of world war two.
The branch was worked by panniers and prairiesfrom PZ.
In 1964, the box was replaced by a ground frame and the gates by barriers. Later still, even the barriers went.
As the branch officially closed w.e.f. 4th February 1963 the entry regarding movements and recovery work on the branch on Sunday 3rd February 1963 is possibly a record of the last time a train ran during the life of the branch. The next trains were scrapping trains a year later, and these were operated from the Chacewater end. They only ran as far as Shepherds. Read Cyril Hitchens article on the end of the branch contained in the Chacewater - Newquay section of this website.